Oh my brain...


The brain can only focus on one thing at one time.

I have so much happening today, it took a toll on my concentration.

There came a moment when my staff was telling to look into several things one after another that I had to stop her and asked her to please say it to me one at a time. 

My brain just can't take it today. 

pearlie

What is it with being "open-minded"?


I found this hilarious quote in one of my journal app today. 

I know being open-minded means having "a willingness to listen to or accept different ideas or opinions" but I must say I don't like the word. 

I'm all for being a good listener but being all opened up for anything?

I guess that is what Stephen A. Kallis, Jr. is trying to say—you still need to have your own opinion and worldview and you can have your own stand in the matter. 

What do you think would be a better word instead?

pearlie

We all procrastinate, don't we?


I have posted this video back in 2016 but I still talk about it and recommend it to others when the topic comes up. 

Are we born procrastinators?

I don't want to be one but I find myself procrastinating all the time. It's a refusal to just get to work and complete the stuff that I need to do. 

Why do we procrastinate?

Someone says it's a craving to do something else because we have an aversion to the very thing that we are to do. 

Is that so?

But there are things that I love doing that I procrastinate a lot on. Like writing. I love to put my thoughts into this blog but I keep procrastinating on it. But when I get started, I really enjoy doing it. 

So why do I procrastinate?

I suppose like what Tim Urban in the video says, the Self-Gratification Monkey prefers to play and do other more fun and useless stuff leaving the Rational Decision Maker with no handle on the situation but wait till the monkey gives up so he can get to work. 

I need to keep the monkey on reins and at bay.

I need to be rational and stop procrastinating especially when there are no deadlines. 

pearlie

I don't read the news


Yes, you heard me right. I don't read the news. I always forget to. 

And I would feel guilty and left out and stupid when people talk about the big headlines. 

Until I read Chapter 99 of The Art of Thinking Clearly. Anyway, this will be the final post on that book, for now. But it will still be a book I will refer to every now and then. It is indeed very useful to train myself into thinking more clearly. 

Ok back to Chapter 99, on the News Illusion. 

Dobelli says, "We are incredibly well informed, yet we know incredibly little. Why? Because two centuries ago, we invented a toxic form of knowledge called 'news'. News is to the mind what sugar is to the body: appetizing, easy to digest—and highly destructive in the long run."

Really? 

But isn't news suppose to keep us in the loop, inform us about current issues and what matters?

I am still not sure about this.

But Dobelli brings out three points:

1. Our brains react disproportionately to different types of information. It is attracted to the sensational, shocking and scandalous. It filters out the subtle, complex, abstract, and profound. Think about it, would we rather read The Star or The Edge?

2. News is irrelevant. It is difficult to remember what we read and much of the time we can still get by not knowing. 

3. And as a result, news is a waste of time. He took the example of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. He said, "Out of sheer thirst for recognition, terrorists murdered two hundred people. Let’s say a billion people devoted an hour of their time to following the aftermath: They viewed the minute-by-minute updates and listened to the inane chatter of a few “experts” and “commentators.” This is a very realistic “guesstimate” since India has more than a billion inhabitants. Thus our conservative calculation: One billion people multiplied by an hour’s distraction equals one billion hours of work stoppage. If we convert this, we learn that news consumption wasted around two thousand lives—ten times more than the attack. A sarcastic but accurate observation."

I still want to be in the know, but I won't worry too much now about missing out on current issues. I will still do what I do now—scanning headlines in Google News. I only read a couple that I find interesting. 

And the rest I will go read up when I hear people around me talking about it. 

What do you think?

pearlie

Beware! Our sense of alertness isn't as good we think it is


Before you read on, watch the video. You may have seen it before but watch it still and you might be surprised. 

I was reading the chapter on the Illusion of Attention in Rolf Dobelli's The Art of Thinking Clearly and I am being warned. 

I admit that when I drive, I'm always distracted. I am always listening to music, looking at my phone and all. 

When all things are running as clockwork, where all vehicles are doing what they are expected to do, all will be fine.

But when something unexpected happens, and they do, I will not be able to react in time. 

There are no buts. Consider myself warned. 

pearlie

I am thankful


Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! 
His faithful love endures forever. 
Has the LORD redeemed you? 
Then speak out! 
Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.
Psalm 107:1-2 (NLT)

I'm only so thankful to the LORD for what he has done in all my life, even the little thing today which is a big thing to me. 

Thank you Abba. 

pearlie

How to manually sort rows in a pivot table

When I need to figure out how to get my Excel working the way I want it to, I'd Google but today I YouTubed.

I wanted to manually sort rows in a pivot table. 

I checked Help in Microsoft.com. 

No help there. 

It's frustrating when all they do is describe what you can see for yourself when you click this or that, but not explain how to do it. 

I finally found it in this YouTube vid. And there is not only one way to sort pivot rows but three. And the third one is just brilliant. 

Will be tough for me to explain it in words. Just watch it here:


pearlie

Have you heard of the Streisand Effect?


I was watching a TV show and was reminded of the Streisand effect.

Have you heard of it?

It's when you try to hide something but as a result you made it more visible, which not only the exact opposite of what you want, but you've made it even worse. 

This is attributed to Barbra Streisand when in 2003, she wanted to suppress photographs of her residence in Malibu, California but inadvertently she drew more public attention to it. 

For example, have you noticed that when a book or movie is banned, you then have to read it, you have to watch it. 

What happened in the TV show I watched though was interesting. 

There is this book the king wanted to destroy because it will completely wreck his reputaton.

So did he just ban it?

Yes but he did much more. 

He banned all books in that genre. He got them all burned at the stake. 

Because of that, no one knew any better. The actual book he wanted to ban just disappeared into oblivion.

If only we have that power though. 

pearlie

Jesus taking the highest honor, the highest place


I was worship leading in church today when I used this song, Jesus Shall Take the Highest Honor. 

We sing it oh-so-easily, but do we take Jesus and put Him as the highest in our priority, in our lives?

More often not, it's ourselves we find there, in the highest place. 

pearlie

I started a learning journal


I started a learning journal and have been recording what I learnt for the day every day for the past week.

I got this idea when I attended Deloitte's seminar on the latest HR trends. 

Among the things I picked up was that we need at least 100 days of learning in a year to remain relevant. 

With that, I wanted to learn something every day and I thought it'd be a good idea to start a journal to record what I learn on a daily basis. 

I downloaded Diarium, a journaling app and I have been doing it for a week now. Some days were hard whilst other days I have loads to write about. 

Since I kept it a point not to miss even a single day, some days are quite forced, but I would still write something, however irrelevant or trivial that learning item is. 

And it's a good thing because by the end of the day, if I have nothing to write about, I had better go do something useful before the day is out. 

pearlie

Steve Jobs called it "the bozo explosion"

I posted last week about a book that I began reading and it is an absolutely excellent read thus far.

The Art of Thinking Clearly
by Rolf Dobeli

I got my colleague to also get a copy (as of today it is still selling at $1.99) and we have been talking and discussing about what we read and what had intrigued and even amused us. 

Rolf Dobelli is a witty fella and we were both caught laughing so loud in the office today, when we exchanged notes and talked about his expressions and explanation. 

Especially his section on Social Comparison Bias, which he explains is "the tendency to withhold assistance to people who might outdo you, even if you look like a fool in the long run."

And he quoted Guy Kawasaki who "says: 'A-players hire people even better than themselves. It’s clear, though, that B-players hire C-players so they can feel superior to them, and C-players hire D-players. If you start hiring B-players, expect what Steve [Jobs] called ‘the bozo explosion’ to happen in your organization.' In other words, start hiring B-players and you end up with Z-players. Recommendation: Hire people who are better than you, otherwise you soon preside over a pack of underdogs."

This really had both of us in fits of laughter today. It's so funny but sadly it's so true. 

And I really like it when he ends the section with, "Admittedly, in the short term, the preponderance of stars can endanger your status, but in the long run, you can only profit from their contributions. Others will overtake you at some stage anyway. Until then, you should get in the up-and-comers’ good books—and learn from them."

Go get the book already. It's definitely worth a read. 

pearlie

How much do you read, if at all?

I was having a meeting with my boss today to discuss about the learning culture in an organization and the discussion went into the subject of reading.


I posted about the dismal statistics on reading in Malaysia back in year 2016, and upon checking out more recent research, it has not gone any better. 

And this article even say we rank eighth from bottom global literacy list. 

We buy books, but we don't seem to be reading them. 

This 2017 report from WorldAtlas does not even have us in the list when the top 4 countries that read the most are in Asia: India (10.42 hours per week!), Thailand (9.24), China (8.00) and Philippines (7.36).

10.42 hours a week is about 1 hour and a half a day, which in fact is quite doable. 

So let's max it out and assume we take on average 5 hours to read a book and that would be 2 books in a week, about 100 books in a year.

Ok, maybe that is too ambitious for us. 

What if we do a book a month? And that would come up (or down) to 1.25 hours a week. 

Nope, we still won't make it to the list.

And everyone says reading is a good thing, but nobody here seem to believe in it. 

pearlie

Upper beam not straight lower beam slants


I was having a meeting with my colleague when she uttered this saying 上梁不正下梁歪 (shàng liáng bù zhèng xià liáng wāi in Mandarin and soeng6 loeng4 bat1 zing3 haa6 loeng4 waai1 in Cantonese.)

It means if the upper (上) beam (梁) is not (不) straight (正), the lower (下) beam (梁) will slant (歪)

And if you notice, the word for slant 歪 is made up of two words, not straight 不正, one on top of the other. 

Such is the beauty of the Chinese language. 

And it's poetic too. 

I found it interesting that is has a 4+3 meter. I tried to find out the implication of its unevenness but couldn't find anything yet. 

What I notice is that Chinese sayings usually have matching meters, i.e. 3+3, 4+4 or 5+5.

But in some sayings, the second portion has one less. And I feel it denotes the negativity and incompleteness of what it wants to convey. 

What do you think?

Like in this case, if the upper beam is not straight, if the top is not set right, whatever that is the bottom will not be stable and may fall. 

What other such uneven metrics of Chinese sayings come to mind?

pearlie

Wonderful Things of the World #11: Chicken 65


I was having lunch with a colleague and I ordered Chicken 65.

But we were wondering why it is called that. 

Apparently the dish originated from Buhari Hotel, Chennai, India but nobody knows exactly why it's named Chicken 65. 

Some say it's because it was created in year 1965. Some say it's because it contains 65 chili peppers. Some say it's made from 65-day old chickens. Others say the dish has 65 pieces of chicken. And yet others say it was the 65th item in the menu of the restaurant. 

Whatever the story, it's absolutely yummy. 

It's like spicy popcorn chicken without the batter, without the frying. 

pearlie

Why do you eat what you eat?

Sadly, this cartoon from theAwkwardYeti.com pretty much sums up my eating behaviour lately. 


We were taught and told that we eat to live, that we need to eat to get the energy to pursue our daily living. 

That's logical, but that does not seem to tell the whole story, does it?

So I went googling for some insights and found this book.

Hedonic Eating, How the Pleasure of Food Affects Our Brains and Behavior
by Nicole M. Avena, ed.

It was published in 2015 where the author editor compiled and reviewed literature from various writers on the topic of hedonic eating. 

Hedonic eating? 

She says that hedonic eating is a relatively new term derived from the concept of  hedonism, which by definition is the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life. Hedonic eating is a form of eating in which one eats for pleasure rather than for energy needs. The desire to eat solely to reproduce the pleasurable feelings associated with particular foods activates the reward circuits of the brain. 

With that I can confirm that I am a Hedonic Eater. 

pearlie

Victoria's Secret Bombshell Wild Flower


My hubby bought me a bottle of Victoria's Secret Bombshell two years ago during Valentine's Day and I loved it. (Though he has been secretly using most of it himself! LOL)

It is almost empty now and so he bought me another bottle for my birthday and I just opened it today. 

Victoria's Secret Bombshell Wild Flower has the same scent but it's a bit sweeter and stronger. 

Loving it!

pearlie

I am on my way to becoming a gamer


My son has a second unit of Nintendo Switch but it doesn't work. Someone had accidentally dumped the unit into the washing machine. It was then given to my son.

We brought the unit to Low Yat twice, and they weren't able to find out what was wrong. During the second time, they even told us there is nothing wrong with the unit. 

But how can it be when it doesn't work?!

So my son continued to dabble with it and he finally found out that it was the micro-sd card slot that was faulty. 

We brought it back to Low Yat to see if they can fix it but we were told to return an hour later when the technician is back. 

So we went to a cafe for coffee, and this mommy as she would always do, googled for the cost of repair. I didn't get any indication of repair cost but what I found was that Shopee sells the micro-sd card part for only RM7.08.


After an hour's wait, we dutifully went back to the shop. They quoted us a sum of RM140 to repair it.

What?

We told them we will think about it but what we did instead was to go hunting for the required screwdrivers. We found some but we weren't too sure if they were the right ones. We bought them anyway, and then I logged into shopee.com and ordered the micro-sd card slot. 

It arrived yesterday. 

My son fixed it. 

And it only cost us RM10.88 inclusive of shipping, not counting the cost of the screwdrivers since that would be considered as fixed cost. 

We saved a whopping RM129.

And mommy now has a new toy. 

pearlie

Swing Kids ★★★★★

I keep a movies-to-watch list and high on it is Kang Hyeong Cheol's Swing Kids.

It is a movie about prisoners of war in Geoje Prison during the 1951 Korean War.

I am not a fan of war movies but I'd watch anything with music and dance. I finally got to watch it. I really like it, though I did find it a tad too long.

Here's a trailer, which I found quite compelling. 


If you asked me how I find it, I would agree with this reviewer who said, "By the end, fancifully snappy dance numbers vie with grisly bullet ballet for top setpiece honors: Kang stages both with aplomb, leaving audiences caught between crying and cheering."

The final show dance was so well done I was tingling with goosebumps with the addictive beat and music and movements. 

But the ecstacy did not last. 

What I really love about the movie is the mixture of drama and wit, music and dance, but it also comes with propaganda and demagoguery, cruelty and violence, racism and discrimination, war and death. 

And one of my favorite is the rain scene where the protagonist was watching his two comrades at two sides of the prison camp "talking" to each other with dance moves, subtitles provided. 

It was bitter sweet but oh-so-amusing. 

I couldn't find that scene in YouTube, but you should check this one out. This I could watch over and over again. 


pearlie