Thursday, March 26, 2015

My day in relativity

I do not encountered this event or occasion often, especially not for the last five years. When the occasion did come and I was suddenly presented with some numbers, I didn't quite know what to make of it.

Is it substantial? Is it good? I don't know for sure.

As such, it is a good thing that I'm reminded of what I read in Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational back in 2010.


Predictably Irrational
by Dan Ariely

I did not do a review of this book having read it during my "lesser days" in blogging, but right here right now, it would be timely to post what Ariely himself posted in his blog. (I hope it ok for me to reproduce it here though.)

It's a brilliant chapter. It's a brilliant book. And I'm a fan of the Economist magazine. I was subscribing it for more than 10 years since 1991 until I found it really too expensive to continue.

After re-reading the excerpt below, I felt much better in still not having a clearer context of my current situation. And I guess I will never really know for sure if it is good or not since I have nothing to compare it with.

Take a read below and let me know what you think.
The Truth About Relativity
Source: DanAriely.com

Excerpted from Chapter 1

One day while browsing the World Wide Web (obviously for work-not just wasting time), I stumbled on the following ad, on the Web site of a magazine, the Economist.



I read these offers one at a time. The first offer-the Internet subscription for $59 seemed reasonable. The second option-the $125 print subscription-seemed a bit expensive, but still reasonable.

But then I read the third option: a print and Internet subscription for $125. I read it twice before my eye ran back to the previous options. Who would want to buy the print option alone, I wondered, when both the Internet and the print subscriptions were offered for the same price? Now, the print- only option may have been a typographical error, but I suspect that the clever people at the Economist‘s London offices (and they are clever-and quite mischievous in a British sort of way) were actually manipulating me. I am pretty certain that they wanted me to skip the Internet- only option (which they assumed would be my choice, since I was reading the advertisement on the Web) and jump to the more expensive option: Internet and print.

But how could they manipulate me? I suspect it’s because the Economist‘s marketing wizards (and I could just picture them in their school ties and blazers) knew something important about human behavior: humans rarely choose things in absolute terms. We don’t have an internal value meter that tells us how much things are worth. Rather, we focus on the relative advantage of one thing over another, and estimate value accordingly. (For instance, we don’t know how much a six- cylinder car is worth, but we can assume it’s more expensive than the four- cylinder model.)

In the case of the Economist, I may not have known whether the Internet- only subscription at $59 was a better deal than the print- only option at $125. But I certainly knew that the print and-Internet option for $125 was better than the print- only option at $125. In fact, you could reasonably deduce that in the combination package, the Internet subscription is free! “It’s a bloody steal-go for it, governor!” I could almost hear them shout from the riverbanks of the Thames. And I have to admit; if I had been inclined to subscribe I probably would have taken the package deal myself. (Later, when I tested the offer on a large number of participants, the vast majority preferred the Internet- and- print deal.)

So what was going on here? Let me start with a fundamental observation: most people don’t know what they want unless they see it in context. We don’t know what kind of racing bike we want-until we see a champ in the Tour de France ratcheting the gears on a particular model. We don’t know what kind of speaker system we like-until we hear a set of speakers that sounds better than the previous one. We don’t even know what we want to do with our lives-until we find a relative or a friend who is doing just what we think we should be doing. Everything is relative, and that’s the point. Like an airplane pi lot landing in the dark, we want runway lights on either side of us, guiding us to the place where we can touch down our wheels.

In the case of the Economist, the decision between the Internet only and print- only options would take a bit of thinking. Thinking is difficult and sometimes unpleasant. So the Economist’s marketers offered us a no-brainer: relative to the print-only option, the print-and-Internet option looks clearly superior.

pearlie

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A long long long walk

By the end of today, my right wrist and my right pectoral muscle are in much pain. I have had my wrist in pain for a while now but I am not sure why.

My pectoral muscle ache however, is because I carried my bag on my right shoulder during the extremely long walk I had to take in KLIA2 from the entrance to the departure hall this morning and from the arrival hall to the taxi line in the evening. The distance is inhumanely long. I was told it is about 1.5km one way. The people who designed this airport certainly did not think about the welfare of passengers.

Never again will I ever use that airport--unless I really, really, really have to.

pearlie

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I found my hymn for the year

It has so far been quite a challenging year of frustration for me, 2015. And it has just begun. I am however so grateful that God is with me. He is training me and teaching me to walk in his ways.

I heard this song in Spotify today and it brought tears to my eyes. I am so thankful that whatever happens, God is still God and this is still his world. Indeed, this is my Father's world.

This is My Father's World


This is my Father's world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father's world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their maker's praise.
This is my Father's world:
he shines in all that's fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
he speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world.
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
the battle is not done:
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.


I think the third verse above is the original one, but I'm used to this below:

This is my Father's world.
O let me ne'er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!


And I found this other verse that is so beautiful, especially the last two lines.

This is my Father’s world.
I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze
God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world,
a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.


Indeed, whatever my lot, it matters not, my heart is still at home.

pearlie

Monday, March 23, 2015

It's not good for man to be alone

When God said it is not good for man to be alone (Gen 2:18), I wonder if it only applies to companionship for a man in respective to marriage, or can we look at it at a more general scope to cover all human, male and female, and all kinds of relationships.

I thought of this because I realise it is not good for me to be alone. Of course the word alone can mean two different things, or more. For one, it can refer to being lonely even though you are in the midst of a crowd of people, familiar or not. And two, it can simply mean you are alone, there is no one physically beside you.

In my case, I am referring to the second one. It is not good for me to be alone without anyone with me.

I like to think, a lot. Like it a lot and also think a lot. But when I am alone, my thinking tend to turn to brooding and from too much brooding, I get depressed. And that is not good.

The next time I'm feeling a bit down, I must make it a point to spend my time with people around me, lest I fall into a spiral of depression.

pearlie

P/S 26 Mar 2015: I just received this article in my inbox which I think is really relevant and interesting to what I posted here - The Social Epidemic That’s Worse For Health Than Obesity, Smoking Or Alcoholism

Sunday, March 22, 2015

9 Unbiblical Statements That Bible-Loving Christians Believe

The sermon this morning in PBC was by Chris Abner on Acts 4, titled "No Other Name".

As an introduction he shared with us these 9 Unbiblical Statements That Bible-Loving Christians Believe, with the last three below relating to his sermon.

He said he got from a blog, which I believe could be from here.

These NEVER came from the bible; and they are accompanied by my own short comments below.(Check out the blog article if you need to know more.)

1. God helps those who help themselves
In reality, God helps those who are so weak that they can't help themselves.

2. God wants me to be happy
Doesn't this sounds like a license to a hedonistic life?

3. Cleanliness is next to Godliness
Cleanliness is good but not next to godliness and certainly not from Scripture.

4. When you die, God gains another angel
Like the blogger said, humans are humans, angels are angels.

5. God won’t give you more than you can handle
If you can handle life, you won't need God anymore now, would you? It's a reality we cannot handle all of life ourselves. That is why we need God.

6. Bad things happen to good people
No one is good, not one.

7. We are all God's children
We are all God's creation but only those who believe in him are his children.

8. We all worship the same God
If you check out every god of every religion, you will see that they are not the same.

9. We’re all going to the same place when we die
And if you check them out, every religion leads you to very different destinations.

pearlie

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Long Lazy Weekend

I took two days off work to spend time with my son this school holidays and took the time to run some errands as well.

But mostly it is a nice lazy long weekend. I've started watching the gory TV series Bones...


Bones

...and started reading Anita Diamant's The Red Tent.


The Red Tent
by Anita Diamant

The series is, yes, gory but interesting. And the book is just ok. Maybe I haven't got to the interesting parts.

pearlie

Friday, March 20, 2015

Simplistic Worldview?

I was thinking about the different kinds of worldview we have even in a small group like my CG.

In reference to Wikipedia, "a comprehensive worldview is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society's knowledge and point of view. A world view can include natural philosophy; fundamental, existential, and normative postulates; or themes, values, emotions, and ethics."

In Norman Geisler's Worlds Apart, A Handbook on Worldviews, he said a worldview "is the framework through which you see and the basis on which you decide."

I am not sure if worldview is too large a word to describe the differences we have. But it is sure difficult to proceed on with our bible study sometimes because we get stuck discussing different views and thinking.

In Geisler's book he discussed these worldviews:

1. Theism: A World Plus an Infinite God
2. Atheism: A World Without God
3. Pantheism: A World That Is God
4. Panentheism: A World in God
5. Deism: A World on Its Own Made by God
6. Finite Godism: A World with a Finite God
7. Polytheism: A World with More Than One God

Are these all the worldviews we have? The differences in thought in my CG was within one worldview, the first one. Sub-views then? And what do you call a simplistic worldview?

pearlie

Thursday, March 19, 2015

iPad Air 2?

The first iPad I bought was an impulse purchase. I didn't plan to buy one but I was at the mall and passed by an Apple store with people lining up for the then newly launched iPad 2. I thought why not, joined the line and end up with a purchase. I know, it's crazy, what I did. But I loved it.

And when Apple launched the New iPad (or iPad 3) with a retina screen, I upgraded my unit. That was in 2012, and I have been using it until now.

I have been having the urge to upgrade my iPad ever since the launch of the iPad Air, but I keep convincing myself I do not need it. My iPad 3 is still doing its job. But ever since I upgraded it to iOS 8, it has been lagging in its performance. And so, should I now upgrade my unit to the iPad Air 2?

It's a fact that I do not really use the iPad much. I am literally stuck to my iPhone but I can leave my iPad at home unless I need it for church, bible study in CG and Grace Notes practice, where it is handy as a score reader (I have scanned all our music scores and have no need to lug them around every week).

But the lagging performance is getting to me, and the temptation to get the cool and slick iPad Air 2 is getting bigger.

Should I?

pearlie

One Sky All Bright Completely

Cantonese is a very interesting and pictorial language. I blogged once this comic full of Cantonese idiom.

However the idiom that applies to me today is not featured there. It goes yat teen dou gwong sai, which literally means "one sky all bright completely".

It means the problem has been cleared up, things are better and life gets brighter again.

I mentioned I had a long stressful week last. But today, thankfully, it seems like the sky has finally brightened up. And I thank God.

pearlie

Monday, March 16, 2015

Isn't time intriguing?

Today I felt like I have experienced what Claudia Hammond calls the Holiday Paradox in her book I read some time ago, Time Warped.

The paradox is a “contradictory feeling that a good holiday whizzes by, yet feels long ago when you look back.” She terms it as a clash between the “experiencing self” and “remembering self.”

I may not have been on a holiday over the weekend, but the good break I had from a long stressful week felt like one. When Monday arrived this morning, Friday felt so very long ago.

Hammond explains that it “is caused by the fact that we view time in our minds in two very different ways — prospectively and retrospectively. Usually these two perspectives match up, but it is in all the circumstances where we remark on the strangeness of time that they don’t…We constantly use both prospective and retrospective estimation to gauge time’s passing. Usually they are in equilibrium, but notable experiences disturb that equilibrium, sometimes dramatically. This is also the reason we never get used to it, and never will. We will continue to perceive time in two ways and continue to be struck by its strangeness every time we go on holiday.”

Time is really something, isn’t it?

pearlie

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Psalms 37:1-11

1 Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!
2 For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.
3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.
7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.
10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.

pearlie

Friday, March 13, 2015

What a stressful week

It has been a stressful week, much to do with people. So I'm taking a break from more people and decided to skip CG today and spend the evening with just my two most favorite people in the world - my hubby and my son.

And I found these quotes I like:

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.
~ William James

The deepest fear we have,'the fear beneath all fears', is the fear of not measuring up, the fear of judgement. It's this fear that creates the stress and depression of everyday life.
~ Tullian Tchividjian

It's not stress that kills us, it's our reaction to it.
~ Hans Selye

One of the best pieces of advice I got was from a horse master. He told me to go slow to go fast. I think that applies to everything in life. We live as though there aren't enough hours in the day but if we do each thing calmly and carefully we will get it done quicker and with much less stress.
~ Viggo Mortenson

pearlie

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Our quest for spirituality

Today I'm brought back to a chapter I read a few weeks ago in NT Wright's Simply Christian, Chapter 2 - "The Hidden Spring".

Wright was referring to one of the four echoes of a voice. i.e. the quest for spirituality.

He told a story of a powerful dictator who ruled his country with an iron will, who noticed that the water-sources around the country were erratic and in some cases dangerous, and there were thousands of springs of water. He wanted to control it and so he paved over the springs with concrete so thick that no water could penetrate it. The water that people needed would be brought to them by a system of pipes. He controlled the supply deciding how much was needed. For many years the plan worked just fine. People got used to their water coming from the new system.

Wright continued, "A generation passed. All seemed to be well. Then, without warning, the springs that had gone on bubbling and sparkling beneath the solid concrete could be contained no longer. In a sudden explosion, a cross between a volcano and an earthquake, they burst through the floor that people had come to take for granted. Muddy, dirty water shot into the air and rushed through the streets and into houses, shops and factories. Roads were torn up, whole cities in chaos. Some people were delighted: at last they could get water again without depending on The System. The people who ran the official water pipes were at a loss. Suddenly everyone had more than enough water, but it wasn’t pure and couldn’t be controlled."

Wright likened that to the Western world, where spirituality was so suppressed that when it broke out, most people were clamoring for any kind of spirituality they could get their hands on. Any kind, good or bad.

That did not happen in the Eastern world where spirituality in its various forms in various religions were openly practiced throughout the centuries. I remember when I encountered the mention of the "new age movement" twenty over years ago, it did not sound anything unusual to me.

But Wright's story was enlightening for me. It helped me understand the difference in the perspectives of spirituality between the two worlds.

However, this brand of Western spirituality has reached us here. I've just sat through a session where the participants were brought through a series of contemplative meditation and visualization to discover themselves and their spirit beings. The materials came from the US but the feel is definitely Eastern. It has gone a circle and returned to its own shores.

I do not know what to make out of it yet but this I know, we all have a quest for the spiritual. You may even be an atheist and still have this yearning sometimes for something more meaningful than what you are and what you are doing.

Like Wright, I'd like to point you to Jesus. If you think you already know who he is, you don't.

He is like no one you've ever encountered before. You may not believe it and don't take my word for it. Find out yourself but read from sources that are fair.

Find out about him in the one primary source, the Christian Bible. Or read authors who will give you a fair account of who he is without the hard sell. NT Wright's Simply Jesus will be a good choice.

pearlie

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Why do we get angry?

I do not like conflicts. They really stress me. I admit I do get angry myself, a lot of times actually, but I do not like to get myself into a situation where others are angry and they show it.

I remember getting really very angry just once in my life. And with that, I mean I was so very angry that I was actually shaking as a result. Only that once. What did I do? I was in a client situation and I knew I had to control it. And so I walked away, extricating myself back to my corner to manage my anger. I articulated my frustration to my colleagues and slowly talked my way back down to control. I could never forget that moment.

What makes us angry? I read here that it has to do with one's personality (e.g. someone competitive or narcissistic), his pre-anger condition (e.g. lack of sleep, stressed up condition) and his appraisal of the situation, i.e. how each different person assesses and perceives a situation, which can be different between different people, that will cause him to either accept it or be angry about it.

In the comment section of the same article, I found this "Desire Engine Law of Stress", which I find quite interesting. It puts perspective to the reasons given above, especially what causes the different appraisals in the first place.

It says, "the amount of anger and stress we feel is in proportion to difference between how intensely we desire something (for whatever reason) and how powerless we feel to affect the realization of that desire (for whatever reason)."

A sense of powerlessness causes anger - is this true? To me, it may not cause anger in all people. I think it depends on the personality. It may also cause depression, stress, frustration and avoidance.

But at least it helps me understand anger better and prepare me to manage the situation when someone gets angry and I can't remove myself from the situation. I will need to try to help the person's balance of desire and powerlessness. And if I can't, to keep silent lest I amplify his sense of powerlessness making him even angrier.

You may be wondering why I'm so hung up on this. It's because of my communication with this one person that keeps running into dead ends. Things I said frustrated him. Questions I asked irritated him. So I'm asking why is this happening. I did not do anything wrong, at least that is what I think. I was just asking questions for verification but he gets irritated.

Now I know it could be that I'm amplifying his sense of powerlessness. So what can I do? The next time I go talk to him, I must be able to provide enough information to give him a sense of control of the situation.

And sadly, I must lower down my sense of inquisitiveness and sense of excitement. At least with him.

pearlie

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My attempts at mind mapping

I have tried dabbling with mind maps with paper and pen, and with a couple of iPhone apps but it never really did catch on for me. I wasn't able to follow the rules with the paper and pen method, and found the apps too cumbersome.

However, I had an issue I needed to manage recently and wanted to try it again. I attempted it with paper and pen and surprisingly I was able to follow the rules and was able to come up with something but then it needed to be more presentable.

I didn't want to download any software and I found this online app which is pretty snazzy.


www.bubbl.us

Apparently it is not new. I found some older reviews that said it was alright and needed some improvements, which I think there has been some by now.

It is very simple to use. I am able to save and export the maps I created. And I should be able to share them with my team members. It's pretty cool.

And most of all, using mind maps helped me to put what I have in mind in its proper place and was able to help me identify gaps and fill them.

pearlie

Monday, March 09, 2015

Sweetness of speech and gracious words

I love the book of Proverbs in the Bible, except I haven't yet found a good way of reading it without getting lost.

And I think one of the reasons why I like it now is maybe because I have grown much older.

I encountered something today that made me go straight to the Proverbs. It concerns the way we communicate with each other. Sometimes we do not realise how to speak to others affect them deeply. And Proverbs 6 had this to say:

21 The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
22 Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly.
23 The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips.
24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

To have that graciousness and sweetness of speech, we need a wise and discerning heart, and good sense. When you meet someone with such speaking skills, more often than not, you will find a good and wise person.

You may say that there are those who can sweet talk anyone they meet but their heart is dark and unkind. But I would say that the sweetness will not last very long and you will soon see his true being emerging in harsh and unpleasant talk.

Or simply they are unwise hearts trying to sound wise.

pearlie

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Yummy food in SS2 Petaling Jaya

My family and I would often go to SS2 in Petaling Jaya for the yummiest local fare.

And we would head to Restoran Chan Meng Kee for the best wanton noodles, at least in my hubby's opinion since I'm not a wanton noodles fan.


Roast Pork Noodles at Restoran Chan Meng Kee

What we found out however, was that the famous Soong Kee Beef Noodles from Jalan Tun HS Lee, KL has opened a branch in SS2, just a few spots away from Restoran Chan Meng Kee. In fact, I just realised that Soong Kee took over the old Chan Meng Kee lot after the latter moved to the corner lot.


The most delicious minced beef noodles at Soong Kee Beef Noodles.

Here's a review of the famous beef noodles.

pearlie
Photo Source: j2kfm and TimeOut

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Guilty in Pride

"I have heard people admit that they are bad-tempered, or that they cannot keep their heads about girls or drink, or even that they are cowards. I do not think I have ever heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse himself of this vice [pride]. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others. Christians are right: it is pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. Other vices may sometimes bring people together: you may find good fellowship and jokes and friendliness among drunken people or unchaste people. But pride always means enmity — it is enmity. And not only between man and man, but enmity to God."
~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

I do not think I have ever heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse himself of this vice [pride]. I read this quote in Rodney Stortz's preaching commentary on the book of Daniel in the chapter he titled "Pride Comes Before the Fall" on Daniel 4:1-37, and I wonder if it is really the case.

Is it only Christians who feel guilty in pride? I certainly do.

pearlie

Friday, March 06, 2015

What is the state of our faith?

I led the bible study this evening in CG on Daniel 2:31-49, where Daniel upon God's revelation, revealed Nebuchadnezzar's dream and interpretation of the dream. The overall theme of the bible study lesson is God's sovereignty and control of the world. No matter what has happened in the past and no matter what will happen in the future, God is.

The interesting question that was asked during the study which made me think was this: what does this chapter teach you about God's activity in the unfolding of human history?

If you look at human history, we see that life has been getting from bad to worse and from that to an even much worse state. In terms of strength of nations--like the feet of iron in Nebuchadnezzar's dream--we are indeed been getting more advanced, more successful and more forward in our thinking and our achievements. We are gaining and achieving more and more.

But--and this is a very big but--the core of what we are is broken. Humankind is more and more broken than ever before, and it will continue to be more broken, unless we let Jesus take hold of our lives.

With groups like ISIS beheading their fellow men like they mean nothing, what has life on earth comes to? And if we are being beaten and thrown into the desert, and about to be beheaded, will we trust and depend on our sovereign LORD? Will we be like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3, who made no excuses but walked into the furnace of fire. No excuses like how we will make: "I'll do it this time, God will forgive me", "I'll bow down but only on the outside, I still belong to God on the inside". No, they said instead, "we trust in God to protect, but if we die, we die. We still trust and worship Him."

What then is the state of our faith? Your faith? My faith?

May God indeed give us the strength to say this: For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.

pearlie