Thursday, June 30, 2005

Touched By An Angel

This entry is especially dedicated to a dear friend, G.K. You know who you are (I’ve preserved your anonymity and yet, made it so obvious that this one’s for you…). A dear friend who’s going through a bad patch right now. It contains everything that I want to tell you. Hopefully, you won’t dismiss it too quickly with a “Whatever”… [You know why? Cos it’s bloody dawn, I can see clouds visibly in the sky already and I still care enough to write this for you.]—shakes fists violently into your face and glares at you with bloodshot eyes. Nah…I am actually giving you my sweetest, most reassuring smile, complete with a halo above my head. ;-)

Have anyone of you been betrayed by friends? Gotten stabbed in the back? Lost hope in the goodness of Man? Perhaps on a lesser scale, you feel forgotten by the buddies you have spent time comforting in their darkest hour of need, only to find that they have moved on happier and have left you stranded in the middle of life’s road, biting the dust? Anger, bitterness and most of all, disappointment will consume your entire being, eating away at your soul, till you become Darth Vader II (now, give me your best shot at constricted breathing—Arh…). Sometimes, we are lucky. We meet new angels and move on too. But there are others who are not as fortunate. They have sunk too deeply into their quagmire of despair, isolating themselves from others, till it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy that “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me. I am going to eat some worms. Yum Yum..”

Lighthearted jokes aside, there will be certain occasions in our lives whereby we feel very spent, having expended great amounts of energy into showing care and concern for others, lending them a listening ear, giving them a shoulder to cry on and trying to help them solve their problems. Sometimes, we become their best friends in life, but often, they move on a happier new phase in their lives, and FORGET about us. And where does it leave us? Nowhere. How do we feel? Used and discarded. Cursed ingrates, they are! Humans are all mean, self-centred beings. Everyone has a motive; you are just a means to help them achieve their ends. Sounds familiar, G.K.?

Actually, I am not denying that this phenomenon exists in real life. Often, humans are governed by their ugly, ‘Me First’ Attitude. Many a times, it’s all about ME, Me, and me. ‘Look at me, listen to me, help me!’ and when they have finally gotten all the attention and aid they seek, they skipped away from their more self-sacrificial counterparts. Happy and fulfilled. And then, the long-suffering people they have unloaded all the problems to, are left stinking alone, feeling like they are the world’s greatest emotional rubbish dump centre.

The problem with this is that, we ALL have a choice as to whether we want to be our friend’s support in their times of need. If the answer is a noble ‘YES’, then, we have to possess an altruistic attitude when we extend our help. And by that, I mean, Expect NOTHING in return. No gratitude, no reciprocal kindness, NO NOTHING. All done in the true spirit of volunteerism. You have to exhibit the magnanimity to give and receive nothing in return. If not, run away from them fast. Heck with their problems, it's really not your problem anyway.

It would be our own undoing to expect even the barest hint of gratitude from the people we assist. With that, the help becomes conditional. That serves as the root of our misery. Especially when we feel ‘it’s a thankless job’. We start to view humans as self-gratifying creatures, awful, practical and unkind.

When you view the world in such bleak colours, there is no way you will ever be happy. You may ask, “I help people when they need me, but who’s going to help me? NO ONE.” My dear G.K., have you ever sought help then? Your distress call? Internalised? Then only God can hear.

Ask and it shall be given unto you, seek and you shall find. So, just as others come to you for help, you shall have to approach others for their support. Or else, who will know?

In life, people are constantly on the move. People enter and exit our lives during the different phases of our journey. We too will waltz in and out of the lives of many others we meet. Make a grand entrance and exit gracefully. Sometimes, even I feel sad that the parting is pre-mature and mourn for the ‘loss’ of some dear faces. Sometimes, I forget to thank them. But, they will always be in the recesses of my memory…and be fondly remembered.

So, dear G.K., see yourself as a lovely angel, who has done a great service to some people. Even if it’s a thankless job, possess the generosity in spirit to give them the benefit of the doubt. They move on, but angels too, move on.

And where in thou art is your angel? Is there really no one out there? Cold, heartless world? No siree, she’s somewhere out there. But she may be a little late, cos, she’s mending her wings.

~(I hope you feel better now. I always want my friends to be happy. Life’s too short to indulge in misery.)~

P/S No trivia for this post. Nothing about it is trivial. =)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Problem Solving!


Woo hoo! I have just finished reading Dan Brown's 'Digital Fortress'! It was not as impressive as 'The Da Vinci Code', but boy, I feel so smug right now. Why?
Because I cracked the kill-code to abort the worm before the climax of the story. Yea, I am not making any sense. Simply put, I solved the puzzle before it was revealed. And it was a scientific problem at that. Proves that my 18 years of hard sciences training didn't go to waste despite my switch to social sciences in varsity.

The code I 'cracked':
Prime Difference Between Elements Responsible For Hiroshima and Nagasaki

A running log of my train of thoughts:
1. Atomic bombs are used.
2. Uranium is the element responsible for making the atomic bomb.
3. Difference? Hm...Uranium has two primary isotopes. U235 and U238....
4. Minus 235 from 238. Answer is 3.
5. 3 is a prime number. Ok, that single digit may well be the kill-code to abort worm virus.

Idiotically, I got the answer because I was plain lucky. Uranium is not the only element that can be used as a fuel for atomic bombs (plutonium can be used too). Nevertheless, I am really really gloating over my trivial accomplishment. Seems that my bouts of viral fever did not fry much of my grey matter. A consolation indeed!

Something I have learnt: Sometimes, the answer to the most complex questions lies in the fundamental concepts. Sometimes, the deeper we think, the murkier the waters become. Will write a short review for this book soon. Had better sleep for now!

Daily Trivia: The technical difference between atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs, is that they derive their energy from different nuclear processes; one from the fission of uranium, the other from the fusion of hydrogen. (check high school/ secondary textbooks for the concepts of nuclear fusion and fission).

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Grey Skies

Sometimes, you wake up to a bad day. Unfortunately for me, I knew today would be a terrible one since yesterday. One might say it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Cos, you think it will be an awful day tomorrow and therefore, you simply start feeling blue the night before. Naturally, you will go through the day feeling down in the dumps. Perhaps.
Horrible day, it is! And the rainy weather, grey and dreary makes the day even more depressing. Usually, I love rain. I adore the soothing scent the wind carries before the rain. I love the crispness of lush greenness that fills the air after the rain. And I love watching the rain falling softly across the sky from the comfort of my room…I love the stillness of world outside when it rains, a time when the world tends to revolve less quickly.

But not today. I was sitting next to a kid by 10a.m. and was stifling a yawn. I am allergic to this child. I feel sleepy whenever I teach him. Next, I had to endure two grueling hours of torture inflicted by the worst bully in my neighbourhood. Nothing I say can coax him into learning. He sits around, drinking his chilled water, threatening to pour some on me. When he attempts to write an essay, it turns out to be only cheap sleaze cracked at my expense. Sometimes, I spaced out, and relieve myself from the annoying reality. Sometimes, I just wonder why am I there, subjecting myself to this sort of treatment. Maybe now I can empathize with people in abusive relationships. They either don’t give up, or have become immune to their pathetic lives and sort of live with it. Weird. I always thought I am someone who does not succumb to fate. Or take things lying down. Weird. Maybe I just needed something to pass time. Or maybe I believe there’s good in him, from the fact he’s blessed with really good parents. Yea…right.
So, in all, I ended my unpleasant day at 9 p.m. And since I had caught a cold, my nose has lost its sensation from the entire day of sniffling. Perfect.

The thing about bad days:
1. You will survive them.
2. Somehow, they will come to a close.
3. It could be worse. =)
4. Tomorrow’s only a day away. (Annie's Song)
5. You can sleep it all off tonight.

Unfortunately, the blue-ness of the day has yet to wear itself off. But it’s already the wee hours of Saturday. Shucks. (So, yes, Annhell, I do have my raincloud-follows-me-everywhere days…Zzzzzz)

Daily Trivia:
Charlie Brown (Hanging his head low):
This is my depressed stance. When you're depressed, it makes a lot of difference how you stand. The worst thing you can do is straighten up and hold your head high because then you'll start to feel better. If you're going to get any joy out of being depressed, you've got to stand like this."

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Have been rather lazy with updating my blog entries recently. It can be rather tiring to pen down thoughts after they have already come and gone. Which is why I think moblogs will definitely be something really BIG in the near future. In fact, evidence of the rising prominence of moblogging could be dated back to July 5,2003, when a few dozen mobile bloggers -- Web publishers who post photos, video and text to the Web from cell phones and other mobile devices -- gathered in Tokyo for the First International Moblogging Conference. Adam Greenfield, one of the conference organizers, coined the term "moblogging" in November 2002. The event was particularly resonant for futurist Howard Rheingold, who predicted in his book "Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution" that advances in technology would soon give everyone the tools they need to publish independent reports of news events as they are happening directly to the Web and other platforms. According to Rheingold's prediction, moblogging "is one of the leading indicators to watch as the shape of the new mediasphere becomes visible".
Alright, enough of new media related stuff. The statement below is so touching that I had to share it with the rest of you:

"Someday when the pages of the book of my life are over, I know you are one of the most colourful chapters I ever had. If it'll be opened again, I'll start with the moment I knew you."

I do not know the original source of these rather cinematic two-liners. However, you would have to agree albeit tragic, it’s beautifully written.

Daily Trivia: The young of a swan is called a cygnet; that of shark is called a cub!

Monday, June 20, 2005

For my daddy dearest-Happy Father's Day

Fathers’ Day has always been the poor cousin of Mothers’ Day. We all love our mums for selflessly lugging us around for nine months. Despite the fact that we contributed to her scores of permanent stretch marks, saggy skin and varicose veins, she would continue to make countless sacrifices for our sake. Dad? Hm…he merely contributed his sperm and determined our gender. =) Ok, alright. Give the man more credit, ok? He’s the one who brings home the bacon, keeps Mum happy (so that she can transfer some of the happiness to us) and is the pillar of our modern nucleated families. In some families, he’s the disciplinarian and the sagacious teacher of his children too.

My dad? He is someone I regard with much ambivalence. And there are certain things we will never see eye to eye on (pun unintended). Yet, as I grow older and wiser, and kinder, I have learnt to overlook the bad and focus on the good. The good side of dear daddy: He’s tall, dark and handsome; he’s a responsible dad and loving husband; he’s a great family chef; he’s a reliable chauffeur, he’s a handy fix-it-all man; he’s a wonderful household help (aka maid). He doesn’t nag, dispenses cash and does my artwork for me in secondary school (my mum did her part in primary school and when things needed to look more professional in high school, it was dad’s turn to provide his kind assistance). Right now as I am penning down these words, he’s hard at work cleaning the blinds in my room. Am I lucky or what?

Very often, we may disagree with our parents. However, deep down, we know we truly love one another. So, certain days exist to remind us to take a step back and see them for who they are—the people who silently love us unconditionally and toil to let us have it good in life.

Love you lots Mom and Dad, and yea, you too, Aileen. (I know you will see this, so just in case your mildly autistic sister forgets to tell them and dies before her time, kindly let them see this, okie?) =)

Daily Trivia: The celebration of Father's Day was inspired by the success of Mother's Day (which was observed for the first time in 1914). Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, was listening to a Mother's Day sermon in church in 1909 and decided that fathers deserved a similar day of recognition. Her father, a Civil War veteran, raised Sonora and her five siblings after their mother died in childbirth. She circulated a petition suggesting the third Sunday in June (the month in which her father was born) and urging people to wear a rose on that day in honor of their fathers. The first Father's Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910. It was not until 1966, under President Lyndon B. Johnson, that it was proclaimed a national holiday and observance of this on the third Sunday in June was made a law in 1972.

My dad likes Jap food, especially the sushi selection at Fiesta. After the dinner, we took some corny pictures. My sister and I had a whale of a time making funny faces and giggling ourselves silly.
Here are some pictures:

Funny Face Standing Hair

The Horror Twins

Smiling Sisters

Sugar and Spice

Friday, June 17, 2005

PCK--The Musical

Attended PCK the Musical on Friday evening. The music was rather well-written, the acting and choreography was recommendable, but what’s with the 40th birthday bash theme? Government propaganda, har? I know this year is Singapore’s 40th anniversary of independence and nation building, but why does Gurmit Singh have to blast us constantly with that message? Even the blocks of ‘flats’ on the stage carries the block numbers 65, 8, 9, 40. Any Singaporean can tell you how it’s related to our National Day…but whoa, it seems like the strand of patriotism running within the musical is overdone. And there was this segment on Civil Defence that stood out like a sore thumb from the rest of the scenes. How does it fit into the story???

In my opinion, it was Tan Kheng Hua who stole the limelight for the evening. Her portrayal as the neurotic, pretentious snob in the Phua family was executed to perfection and she looks darn hot in all her costumes and dance segments.
The highlight of the evening was the dinner I had and the drinks that followed. Ended with a lovely discovery of chocs and all I can say is that “It’s B-E-A-U-TIFUL!”

Daily Trivia: It was during NDP 95 when fireworks were computerised and synchronised with the music for the first time.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Artistic Tuesdays

I think Tuesdays have become Art and Craft Day for me. Out of the four sessions per month at the hospital, three sessions will comprise of craft work for the children. The last session of the month will be playtime with toys and games!! Seriously, I think it should be planned the other way around. Can you imagine boys colouring, cutting and pasting? Most of them would rather play with cars and the Play Station. Good grief!!
Luckily for us, three sweet and conscientious gals were around to ‘support’ our team today. And so, we did a Lady Bug. Having really not much to do, I also did my own lady bug. Well,well…not very professional and it could pass off as a child’s work.
There is this little gal called Yen Shuen. She spelt her name out when I enquired about it and she is one of the most intelligent children I have ever met. She reminded me how as children, we often would exercise our creativity in viewing the world. A time when the world was our playground and we were still too young to lose our sense of imagination. Where the possibilities are limitless and we are not bounded by worldly constraints. When we were still blissfully ignorant of the jungle out there and still unjaded by the harsh reality that awaits us. She coloured her lady bug yellow (yes, there are colourful bugs out there aplenty) and cut out heart shapes polka dots to stick on its body. Inspired, I did my version of a love bug.

Ivys' Bug

I chatted with an Indonesian girl and really liked her necklace (personalized name plate) so much I requested to take a picture of it. She was delighted and gladly took it off for a photograph. Children are the most lovely and unpretentious people! Unfortunately, she custom made it in Indonesia and I would not be able to get one with my name on it. =( Well, too bad. (My awful sister actually suggested I patronize a pet shop to have one made). Hmph!

Suryana's Necklace

After the craft session, we went back to the office to disinfect some toys. Two boys were playing some games on the Play Station and there is a super charismatic boy called Firdaus with a very cool hairstyle. Commented I like it very much and he immediately started telling me all his experiences with sporting that controversial hairstyle in school. Almost had his ‘rooster head’ decapitated by the discipline master. Heehee. Anyway, guys, try this out! Apparently, L’Oreal has a gel that can hold your hair up and maintain it all day. I will check it out and give ya the details. He’s a good sport and posed for a picture. Two in fact!

Firdaus' funny face

Corny Look Side View

All day, I am in contact with kids who possess such sunny disposition despite their illnesses. In them I see strength and optimism, hope and sunshine! From them, I learnt the power of positive thinking. Cheers, dear precious children of God!

Daily Trivia: The electric chair was invented by a dentist. (Yea, confirmed my suspicion about evil dentists.) =P

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

In pursuit of the "Big Fish"

Was browsing in HMV with a friend when we chanced upon the movie “Big Fish”. It was a movie that I wanted to catch but forgot about… Apparently, it was recommended to be a really nice movie, something that I would definitely enjoy. Sigh…By some lucky twist of fate, I was reading my sister’s blog when I chanced upon her watching “Big Fish” on Sunday on DVD. Wow!!! Ok, my first reaction was like “Wow! She has the DVD.” But the initial happiness was replaced by a pang of mild sadness. Why do I get to know more about my sister’s life and activity through her blog? Sigh…Looks like I haven’t been communicating with her that much. Samuel, you home wrecker! (shakes fists into the air and howls heavenward to the blue corn moon). I immediately got down to calling her in the office and asking if she has it in some nook and cranny of our house. Alright, I confess. I actually ventured bravely into her room and tried to look around for it first. But, I am not a natural snooper and her room’s like @#$%^&. Wading through all the junk on the floor is already one great obstacle course. Not to mention the risk of catching some mutated strand of virus that lurks among the germ-filled ‘battlefield’ is enough to put me off. I walked out defeated after two minutes. =(
She told me that I had been oblivious to the presence of the DVD, which had been lying around our house for soooooo long. Told me to watch anything from the pile Samuel had loaned us, cos she’s gonna return this to him today. Yikes!!! In my panic, I decided to hold her dear Amos hostage and threatened to cut off his stumpy legs if she doesn’t bring it home for me today. Heehee…
Well, the need for some introduction here:
The little boy in the Red Indian costume is called Amos Peppermint. He is one of my sister’s favorite. (Though she claims she doesn’t practice favoritism among her toys). He came into our family exposing his butt and penis. None of us dared to touch him and eventually, my mum took pity on him and sewed him a pair of yellow shorts. His fortune changed for the better and he went on to become one of the hottest babies we’ve ever got! The snowman is my trusty companion, Jerry Maguire. He’s also the best candidate to kidnap and threaten me with. Often, he’s in jeopardy of getting his pointed orange nose cut off in our sisterly brawls. =P
Thought of writing a recommendation for a book tonight, but decided against it. My ramblings would take me late into the wee hours of the morning. Decided to save it for another day, when I am less occupied.

Amos Peppermint

Jerry with his cookies sticker

Daily Trivia: Thomas Edison held more than 1,300 U.S. and foreign patents. His first major invention was the quadruplex telegraph. Unlike other telegraphs at the time, it could send four messages at the same time over one wire.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Shopping--Part 1

I was just thinking to myself that I haven’t been an avid partaker in the Great Singapore Sale. Not yet. I think I have a love-hate relationship with sales. Well, if some things are going for 50% off their normal retail price, it would be rational to just make a beeline for that little black dress (LBD) that I have been lusting after for the longest time. Yea, right. Reality is sometimes harsh. Some bugger has already beaten me to it and it’s no longer available in my size. What a bummer! Who is the puny @#$%^& little elf who can squeeze into it other than me? Gone? You sure? (Curse under breath…and promise to rip the dress off the lady who bought it. If I ever spot her around that is. Just keep my eyes alert for any suspicious-looking human dumpling =p). So, if you see, you like, you buy! If the price is right. If not, wipe the image of the item from the recesses of your memory forever. Don’t think about it already, ok? We are not always that lucky to be able to gain first-hand news of a sale and swoop in on our coveted on sale items at the fastest possible time. Just Buy It! –the shopping paradigm that echoes the dream of every retailer. Yea, and I like my items to be a new piece, not the last (over-tried on item) found in the bottom of bargain bin. Do the math and you will realize that it’s not worth it for a couple dollars worth of savings.

Since I am on the topic of shopping, don’t we just dread to go into some shops? Those stand alone boutiques with infamous pesky sales girls who will hound the daylights out of you? Never mind that the clothes hanging on the mannequins entice you to go in for a second look. The very memory of being harassed to death in the shop is enough to stop you in your tracks.
Here are some experiences of how I handle persistent salesgirls: (Tried and tested methods!)

Scenario 1:
Salesgirl: This top is very popular. It will look nice on you. Comes in three colours. Give it a try, lah.
Me: Hm…not bad. Ok.
Salesgirl: Let me find a bottom for you to match it with.
Me: Er…ok.
(Goes into fitting room).
Salesgirl: (Calls out to me outside the fitting room) How is it, Miss? Come out and let me have a look lah. I help you adjust.
Me: (Mutters under my breath: “What the… I haven’t even pull it over my head yet.”)—ignores her.
Salesgirl: Miss, you ok inside? Come out and let me have a look.
Me: (What do you think? I have died from breathing in my recycled carbon dioxide in this crummy room?) Wait, I am coming out soon.
(Hey! Where’s the mirror? No mirror in the room? What a low-down retail trick. Like it will work on me. Sighs and steps out.)
Salesgirl: Wah, very nice!
Me: Har? I think it’s a bit loose on me.
Salesgirl: Nowadays, the fashion trend is like that. People don’t wear so tight-fit anymore.
Me: (Really? Ok lah, but this one is so loose you can dump rubbish down my back). Not nice. It’s too low cut too.
Salesgirl: You can wear a tube-top inside.
Me: I don’t like it. Never mind, thanks. (Smiles sweetly but answers firmly).
Salesgirl: Why not? Nice lah. We can alter it for you if you like.
Me: No thanks (still gives an apologetic smile)
Another salesgirl joins in the hard-sell situation.
Salesgirl 2: Nice mah. Now got discount some more. Good to buy!
Me: (Sorry gals, you have pushed me over the limit) I am wearing it, I know what looks good and what doesn’t on me. [Gives them both the coldest glare and slams the fitting door shut]

Scenario 2:
Salesgirl: Welcome to XXXX.
Me: Smiles politely at her.
(turns my attention onto a rather nice looking dress)
Salesgirl: Want to try? It will look nice on you.
Me: Ok. (heads for the fitting room)
Salesgirl: There are some new arrivals too. See, they just came in this week.
Me: (Takes a quick glance at where she’s pointing and dismisses it with a nod). No thanks.
In the fitting room…..
Salesgirl: Miss, how is it? I show you some nice pieces too. You try lah, don’t buy never mind one.
(starts throwing them by the dozen over the top into the fitting room cubicle)
Me: (What the…) ARGH.
[Grab all the clothes she has thrown in, opens the door and hand them over to her]
Sorry, I am only interested in this piece I am wearing. You can hang these back while I examine myself in the mirror.
Salesgirl: Oh. Ok, lah. (looks rather stunned)

Daily Trivia: In 1765, the sandwich was invented by John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, who gave the food its name. The Earl used to order roast beef between pieces of toast for a snack while he was at the gaming tables, it allowed him to keep one hand free to play while he ate.

Weekend Frills!

Ok man, it’s the weekends. So, I think instead of boring the readers to death with lengthy reviews and whatnots, it would be swell to write about some light-hearted crappy stuff. Didn’t really do much today. Come to think of it, yea. Nothing constructive. Shucks. Was looking at this picture of Angelina Jolie in a “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” poster. Yummy! Angelina that is. Don’t think she’s a classic beauty, but she does exude her own sultry appeal. I think the Asian version of Angelina would be Christy Chung, best remembered for her Marie France advertisement. Hot too! If I were a guy, they would be the type I would lust after but nope, not marriage material. Son Ye-Jin would be my dream gal…Aww…Maybe cos she defines my style?
And if I were a gal, I could never look like them too, hard as I may try. Even if I were to pump ten shots of collagen into my puckers…I would just look like a goldfish who accidentally kissed a jellyfish. Ew… The moral of the story? Never try to look like anyone. Can you imagine asking the plastic surgeon for Nicole Kidman’s nose, Emmy Rossum’s eyes and Angelina’s lips, only to emerge as a Frankenstein’s bride? Shudder…
God created us beautiful in our own way and gave us the right combination of features on our faces. I am sure Aileen would agree. Right, my single eyelid pretty sis? =)
By the way, imagination overdrive… but has anyone pictured Angelina in the harsh winter with dry, chapped lips that’s peeling all over. Think you can even see the dying skin cells with your naked eye, writhing in pain and gasping for water! House of horrors! Run, people run!

Daily Trivia: International Left-Handers Day falls on 13 August.
List of Famous Left-Handers:
Ronald Reagan (40th U.S. President)
George H.W. Bush (41st U.S. President)
Bill Clinton (42nd U.S. President)
Benjamin Franklin (statesman/publisher/scientist)
Steve Forbes (businessman/publisher)
Lee Hsien Loong (Prime Minister of Singapore)
H. Ross Perot (businessman)
Joan of Arc (French heroine)
Ramses II (Egyptian pharaoh)
Alexander the Great
Julius Caesar (Roman general)
Napoléon Bonaparte (French emperor)
Henry Ford (automobile manufacturer)
David Rockefeller (banker)
Helen Keller (advocate for the blind)
August Piccard, (inventor of stratosphere, bathosphere)
Edwin Buzz Aldrin (astronaut)
David Letterman (host)
Jay Leno (host)
Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise (entertainers)
Bart Simpson (cartoon character-yea, OMIGOD!)
Lewis Carroll (author)
Marshall McLuhan (author-understatement man)
Mark Twain (novelist)
H.G. Wells (don’t tell me you don’t know who these remaining three are!)
Leonardo da Vinci
Ivy Yeo (er, who's this?)

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Book Review: "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell

Here I am trying to write something, while waiting for the caffeine of the coffee I’ve just drunk to kick in. Hopefully, that will be soon, so that I can think more clearly. In the meantime, I am actually torn between reaching out for the book or continuing with this blog entry. Well, I must not succumb to too much temptation in a day. Looks like I am going to engage in some frivolous banter than indulge in the book and end up not doing any work and going to sleep three hours later. That’s the problem with reading fiction. Something that I have kept away from for the longest time. Yet, when a bestseller is dangling in front of me, screaming at me to pick it up, it would be too cruel to reject it. Especially when it’s a free loan, and a good read.

Talking about books, I have just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink—The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” recently. Just as it’s title suggests, it’s a book about rapid cognition. Like, for instance, how you jump to a series of conclusion about a person, a house, a book about two seconds after being in contact with them. Have you ever laid your eyes on a newly introduced acquaintance and disliked them instantly? For no apparent reason? Well, it’s these sorts of split seconds mind processes that he explores in this book. We often call it intuition (gut feeling), but Mr. Gladwell would rather have us convinced that there is rationality at work too. He then goes on to explain that although it’s always good to gather as much information and spend some time in deliberating over all the possible choices, there are circumstances which call for snap judgments and first impressions to help us make the most out of a high stress situations. He calls this "the power of thin slicing"--which says that as human beings we are capable of making sense of situations based on the thinnest slice of experience. Much of this book is filled with examples of how thin-slicing skills are employed to yield better outcomes that those decisions made using careful analysis.
Though I very much agree with him (especially the section describing military warfare tactics), I advise readers to take it with a pinch of salt…The examples he provided to substantiate his arguments are brilliantly well-chosen to convince the readers. The book starts off with a bang, a refreshing read and undoubtedly a page-turner. Unfortunately, it loses steam along the way and somehow degenerates into a naggy old professor, trying to reiterate the same points to a bunch of students who are yawning with disinterest. Still, an insightful book worthy to pick up. The examples are quote worthy too.

Overall Rating: 4/5.

Comments: I suspect his earlier publication entitled “The Tipping Point” may be better than “Blink”. Waiting to lay my hands on it.

Daily Trivia: Despite its hump, a camel has a straight spine.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Till Death Do Us Part

In response to the most dreaded question:

If I died, would you remarry?

I cannot help but want to take this question further. That is because, I truly believe that whenever anyone asks this question, the answer they want to hear is “No!”. However, in their hearts, they will not be persuaded by the ‘model answer’ provided by the other party. (Complicated, difficult to please creatures, aren't we?) Isn’t it a big waste of time then?

The problem is that, when either one of a spouse dies (especially when they are still in their prime), it is a difficult time for the other living party. Especially so when they do love each other. Everyone hopes that their living spouse will mourn for their death, because, mourning for someone is experiencing pain for the loss of a loved one. Mourning for someone is remembering them lovingly. So, we can only hope that our spouses will mourn for our deaths. And in this, we can find comfort that we have mattered to them.

But do we really want them to live the rest of their lives in loneliness (especially if we have yet to have children, and they still have a long journey ahead of them)? I am sure the answer is, “No.” And if people have thought long and hard about this, it really should be a definite “NO!”

Love is never selfish or possessive. We want the person we love to carry on bravely and happily. People need the companionship and support of a spouse. Are we really so mean-spirited and narrow-minded that we will revel in the knowledge that while we have already passed over, our living spouses are leading a life doomed to misery and loneliness? Search your souls and the answer you have been hounding the life out of your partner (pun unintended) IS CRYSTAL CLEAR.

Is it true that if the living spouse remarries, he/ she does not love you dearly?
Answer: If he takes time to mourn for the loss, and eventually, heals…He loves you. (If that bloody fella heaves a sigh of relief and marries his mistress the following week, well, hope he burns in hell, ya?)
Moving on eventually doesn’t mean that he does not love you anymore. You will be kept forever in his loving memory. And it is this wonderful memory of you that will be a part of him, right up to his death. And this is something irreplaceable, something that his new bride can never erase nor take away from you…something that is yours to own. Isn’t that his greatest gift of love to you already?

Daily Trivia:
The Taj Mahal stands on the banks of the river Yamuna in Agra. It was built by the fifth Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in 1631 in memory of his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal, a Muslim Persian princess. She died while accompanying her husband in Burhanpur in a campaign to crush a rebellion after giving birth to their 14th child. As Mumtaz Mahal lay dying, she asked four promises from the emperor: first - that he build the Taj, second - that he should marry again, third - that he be kind to their children, and fourth - that he visit the tomb on her death anniversary. Construction began in 1631 and was completed in 22 years. Twenty thousand people were deployed to work on it.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

25 Questions Men Want to Ask Women

Yep, today I shall provide some of my responses to an article featured on MSN. Though I think they are not exactly really representative of the burning questions most guys would like to ask…but here goes. (Disclaimer: This is solely my side of the coin...)

25 questions men want to ask women
By Ted Kluck
It's time to come clean, gents. Here and now, for all the world to see, I feel compelled to reveal all the questions men have crawling around in their heads — the questions we're desperate to have answered but scared to death to ask our women.

1. Why do you all wish we were more like John Cusack?

Answer: John Cusack? Well, cos, he’s always being cast as the nice, sensitive and very likeable guy in his movies. I like him as Jonathan Trager in “Serendipity”. I am sure his upcoming show, “Must Like Dogs” makes him very appealing to the audience too.

2. Do you or don’t you want us to open the door for you? Just let us know, and we’ll act accordingly.

Answer: Duh, of cos! It’s the least a gentleman should do. It reflects a lot on one’s upbringing. Do it for everyone (man, woman, the elderly and the young please!) A small gesture goes a long way. Brownie points for all who does it. By the way, ladies should help open doors too, especially when your guy has his hands full with your shopping bags.

3. How can you look so cute in pigtails?

Answer: Cos, I am naturally cute…Or could it be your fascination with the Lolita look? =P

4. Why the fascination with Harrison Ford? He’s old enough to be your father, for crying out loud? Seriously.

Answer: Personally, Harrison Ford’s not my type. SEAN CONNERY is the one who is the object of my fantasy. Haha. Why, you guys are also fascinated with mother figures too…On a serious note, that is because they just get better with age. Take comfort in that knowledge that we’ll love you more with each passing day/ year. Check out Sean at this site and you’ll know why he’s my fave: Philanthropic, loving husband and eyes that exude dependability. Need I say more?

5. When you ask "Does this look okay?" do you want honesty or support? We really can do both.

Answer: Depends on your spouse/ partner—think with her in mind. Is she a person who needs assurance more than honesty? In my opinion, a self-assured lady can carry off the most terrible outfits and accessories with grace and charm.

6. How can you complain endlessly about having "so much work to do" and then find the time to go shopping or talk to someone on the phone for two hours?

Answer: That just means one prioritizes those activities over the urgency of work. Tough luck.

7. Do you ever get tired of watching The Sound of Music?

Answer: Yes. (Sometimes, the best movies need to be watched only twice (max), and be remembered fondly for. Ladies, practice more restraint =P ).

8. Why is each anniversary such a big deal to you? I'm not talking about yearly anniversaries, but our first date? Our first kiss? The first time I met your mother?

Answer: Honestly, I don’t know yet… Because you are special and I want to remember everything about us?

9. Do you think I'm better looking than Brad Pitt?

Answer: Yes, you do! Totally! I will choose you over him anytime! What’s the big deal about Brad Pig? Crap. (yea, come and send me hate mails…)

10. How can you always remember those little things, like Great-Great Aunt Emma's birthday or the anniversary of Cousin Susie's dog's death?

Answer: Cos I love them. And I would remember the nitty-gritties about you too.

11. Why do you always ask us questions when you already know the answers?

Answer: I want a second opinion and I try not to be Miss-Know-It-All. Who knows, you may enlighten me!

12. How can you always be up for going shopping?

Answer: Really? That’s so untrue. I rather laze in bed…

13. Chest hair — good or bad?

Answer: Aw…come on, we love you warts and all and you are asking about chest hair? Please…

14. Boxers or briefs? Be honest.

Answer: Boxers for me. Checkered ones... (Answer is definitely not representative of the female population. But boxers are more comfy right? Guys are at their most charming when they are comfortable in their own skin.)

15. Why do you find it endearing when a guy's in love and won't take no for an answer in the movies, but in real life you call it stalking?

Answer: In the movies, the guy who hounds the daylights out of the female lead is inevitably suave, charming and an incredibly good catch. There exists a discrepancy between reel life and real life only because in real life, the ‘stalker’ is usually none of the above (actually, even sadder…like low self-esteem, scarily obsessive and devoid of social skills). If not, we wouldn’t avoid him at all costs (which lead to stalking incidents). We would date him. =)

16. Why is it so easy for you to stop and ask directions?
Answer: Cos I am too lazy to figure it out myself. Plus, it would be easier to appear ‘stupid’ than try so hard and get it wrong. Definitely a more painful ego bruiser. Ouch!

17. How do you innately seem to know what can or can’t go in the dryer?

Answer: Intuition. Or previous painful lessons, incurred at the expense of a shrunk Marc Jacobs top.

18. Why do you always complain about your mothers and then end up talking to them for hours upon hours?

Answer: It is better to talk to them then to be nagged at by them.

19. Why do you always go to the bathroom in groups?

Answer: Cannot relate…sorry. (But, some gals bond in the bathroom by gossiping/ bitching about others.)

20. Facial hair. Good or bad?

Answer: Again…have more confidence will ya? But I like my guy clean shaven.

21. Looks or money?

Answer: Can I have both? It’s like asking you, “Beauty or brains?” Seriously though, none of the above. Just treat us nice and that’ll suffice. Some can be good-looking jerks, others can be miserly millionaires. Not attractive either way.

22. When you ask, “If I died, would you remarry?” What exactly are you looking for?

Answer: Guys, I think you have all been harassed to death by this question (or questions of this crappy nature). Poor things! And gals, please don’t ask such a bloody question to torture your sweethearts. Totally a great waste of energy. Worse if the conversation escalates into a heated, tearful “You don’t love me enough!” argument. Get a life.

23. If I died, would you remarry?

My dear, if I had a choice, I would choose to die before you do, and that would have saved me from the heartache of losing you.
(Stop at this point, if she turns soft and teary and touched. Yea right, like she’ll give up…)
(If she persists—which 99% of the time, she would)
Continue with:
No, never! Never, ever! (Please try to say this convincingly, accompanied by a steady, loving look into her eyes. And God bless your poor soul for lying through your teeth!)

[This section shall be explored in detail in my next blog entry, cos, I do have some personal opinions on it].

24. Does your dad like me? No, seriously.

Answer: He would, eventually. (Cos, time will prove to him that you actually turn out to be the great guy I know you are, and the guy I love can stand the test of time)

25. How do you mange to be so cute, charming, silly, frustrating, beautiful, mysterious, complicated, simple and unbelievably interesting? No, seriously.

Answer: Simple, that’s because you love me for all that I am and in your eyes, I can do no wrong. (And gals, if your guy thinks the above of you, you are very blessed to have found The One).

Daily Trivia: Question: What’s a shart?
Answer: It’s a fart that’s accompanied by a little shit.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Inspiration from the Princess Diaries

Slept a measly two hours today and had to wake up super early to go and do volunteer work. The kid I was trying to play with had an attention deficit problem. I tried getting him to do some craft work but all he wanted to do was to empty out the little crayons from the container and throw them on the floor. As I started picking them up, he furrowed his brow, shook his head and prevented me from doing so by stepping on my fingers. Hey! =( He proceeded to step on my toes too. OUCH! I conjured up a fantasy scene (a la Ally McBeal style) whereby I lift him up by his neck and strangled him till he coughs feebly and faints…At least thought crime is no crime….for now that is.

Had to go for some retail therapy after that session (well, so much for shopping at a campus Co-op—bookshop). Boy, am I in luck! There are some new arrivals and I succumbed to buying this book called “The Fabric of the Cosmos” by Brian Greene. I will put up a review for it after reading it. As for now, I am indulging in another Dan Brown book called “Digital Fortress”. I just had to know how he fares as an author in his other works. Am glad it’s a loan from my sister’s colleague. Will write a review for it too. If this goes on, I think I will be rather screwed up, in terms of not spending more time on my own dissertation. Yikes! Temptations…
Lunch was spent catching up with a friend I have not seen for some time. It was really meaningful and we eventually went on to discuss some rather philosophical stuff. It seems weird for we have never broached that deeply on stuff in our conversations. The clincher came when out of the blue, he blurted out a quotation as remembered from movie “The Princess Diaries”. Wow! I love quotations and so, I spent the night looking up the Internet for the exact phrase. It goes like this,

“The brave may not live forever, but the cautious never live at all.”—Timothy Luce

Absolutely inspiring! Especially at that time when we were in the midst of discussing my lack of courage to venture out in the relationship department. Kinda mentioned that I did not really believe in it as I have seen too many failures. Well, perhaps I should take the cue, throw caution to the wind and really experience something beautiful. Ah…that I shall leave it open to explore some other night. I have rambled on for so long and the night is not getting younger. Go to bed, I must.

Daily Trivia: The skin is the biggest organ in our bodies. Take good care of it!

Monday, June 06, 2005

First blog entry!

After much procrastination, I have finally got down to getting myself a blog account. Since it’s a rather momentous milestone in my mundane life, I need to pick a nice date to remember the day I started blogging. Cheers to 6/6/2005!

Well, what do I want to fill my blog with? Definitely not uneventful ramblings about the days of my life…or it will be the longest and most boring soap opera anyone will ever lay their eyeballs on. But if I fill it with daily musings, now that’s a different story. The world that exists in the head of dear little Ivy is like a wonderland. A fertile ground where flowers bloom and blossom into the most amazing assortment of flora collection, where it’s a meeting of the weird and the beautiful, the demented and the sane.

My reason for blogging? Simply put, I want to pen down those thoughts in my life that I actually expended energy to think about and document them. The physicality of capturing them all down for future references appeals greatly to me. And what’s in it for the readers? Hopefully, you will gain some insight from my entries and if you feel strongly (for or against) any of my opinions, you can email me or post your comments on the tagboard to facilitate the exchange of ideas. And remember those burning questions you may happen to ask when you were an inquisitive child? You can find them as daily trivia in my blog entries. May the sense of wonderment in all of us never die!

Daily Trivia: A hen lays one egg at a time and it takes 26 hours for the hen to make an egg.

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