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. 


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?


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. 


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."


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?


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. 


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. 


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:


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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?


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. 


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. 


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!


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.


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. 


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. 


Best song covers I've ever heard

I was checking out YouTube and noticed this video in the recommended videos to watch. I am picky about what I watch but the song title got me - Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time.

I grew up with this song and so I watched it, a cover of the song nonetheless, and I was enthralled. 

JTBC Superband is a new reality show in South Korea where they have contestants team up in bands to perform. 

I have not seen much, and they have not subtitled the episodes and it will take me a really long time to figure out the conversations. So I haven't watched it yet. 

But here are the YouTube versions: take a listen and tell me their talents are not insanely good. 

Most of them are Korean Americans, but I still have problems with their pronunciations, here and there. 

But their voices, and music prowess, they are so good. 

JTBC Superband, Time After Time
This starts off a bit on the slow side but keep listening, it gets better and it closes with a grand finish.

JTBC Superband, Creep
This to me is the best cover of the song. And I'm in love with the ending. Notice the dialogue between the voice and the string. Awesome.

JTBC Superband, Ilysb
And this is one song I can't stop listening to. I listened to the original but I find this cover much, much better in quality and especially interpretation. 

They are also in Apple Music and Spotify. Check them out there.


The Art of Thinking Clearly

I was having a meeting with some colleagues yesterday and we talked about how we found thinking skills to be rare among workers these days.

And today as I was looking for a book to read, I found this in my stash. 

The Art of Thinking Clearly
by Rolf Dobelli

Perfect. Just what I needed. 

As I dive in, I find that the author describes 99 cognitive biases that we are all prone to. He says that this is not a how-to book, in that he does not go into details on how to deal with the biases. But he does a very good job in describing and warning us. 

I have only read until the 42nd bias with 57 more to go. 

My next step is to find someone interested enough to discuss this with, so that I will remember and be always mindful of cognitive errors. 

Anyone interested?


Hillsong worship songs in Korean

I was trying to connect with some young people in my church to get their thoughts about worship. 

And I've seen some of them with K-pop memorabilias and I thought I'd go check out some Korean worship songs to get them more exposed to Christian worship songs. 

It was then when I found out that Hillsongs do have this thing they called Global Project Korea, with their songs translated and sung in Korean. 

I listened to a few and found this one interesting.

I can only understand bits here and there and so in checking out the original English version, I found the lyrics quite creative and unconventional.

However, I find that it's more of a soloist song rather than a worship song because to me, it will be difficult for a regular congregation to sing it, only to find out later that it won worship song of the year and song of the year. 

Looks like my church congregation has a lot of catching up to do, in order to upskill our singing and music abilities. 

Back to the Korean version, I noticed that in my Apple Music app, the song was posted up as : 나 또한 (featuring Joseph Butso).

Okay, not a Korean singer but he sang it in perfect Korean, as far as I can tell, that is. 

So who is he?

It turned out that Joseph Butso is a young African exchange student in Korea who became viral when he went busking in the streets singing and spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.

He took part in a singing contest and wowed the judges too. 

I found this documentary. Too bad it's not subtitled, but for the parts he spoke in English, it's still a good watch. 

And it is a right and good thing that Hillsong got him to sing in their Korean album. 

Kudos to Joseph Butso both in bringing the good news to the Koreans and singing his heart out for the LORD. 


p/s I am always mindful about lyrics in worship songs, and I'm not very happy with the part, "Where You lost Your life so I could find it here". Jesus didn't "lose" his life but laid it down and gave his life rather than losing it.

The composer got into problems too with the words, "And as You speak, A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath, Evolving in pursuit of what You said," (emphasis mine).

When I didn't feel like attending church

I've been getting quite stressed up lately and I didn't feel like going to church this morning, which doesn't happen in all my life. 

Well, not that it doesn't, just that it's very rare.

However, I made the decision to go anyway. I know I didn't feel like it but I know I had to. 

So I turned up for service, and it turns out it's a good thing I did. 

I have always looked forward to Dr Leong Tian Fock's sessions and I didn't know he was preaching today. 

He said at one point that there is no point in hiding from God. Because if we do, we are denying the fact that he is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving. 

He knows anyway, and he has the power to do something and he loves me. 

That's all I need to know for now to get myself right again with him. 


Tried the Eatigo app?

Have you used the Eatigo app before?

I don't use it that often but I've used it several times on restaurants that offer 50% discounts.

And this is one of the places I have been going to quite often: Mr Dakgalbi at Pearl Point Shopping Mall. 

It isn't too far from home and my son really likes the cheese ring version. 

He will be going back to uni soon and I won't have anyone to go with me after that. 

Too bad my husband doesn't like the place and I find eating alone in restaurants a bit too weird. 

Probably I need to get used to it, eating alone. 

Source of photo: The Double Eaters

I went watchless only for a month

I posted last month that I am again doing without a watch but it only lasted for a month.

I keep lifting my wrist to read the time.

I was chatting with my husband when I mentioned the new Mi Band 4 and before I knew it, he ordered two units. 

One for him and one for me. 

They arrived a couple days ago and we are so far very happy with it. 

With an AMOLED screen, the watch face is very bright and attractive. 

And I found out today that we can actually load up third party watch faces on it.

Since my Razer Phone 2 does become a conversation piece wherever I go, I found this cool watch face for my Mi Band 4. 


Fancy some Sarawak Laksa?

I went out for lunch with a colleague today and he brought me to SRK Borneo in Fraser Business Park.

I ordered Sarawak Laksa and I was told that it is very authentic.

It wasn't that large a serving. It was just nice and it was extremely good. 

They serve so many varieties of dishes that I will have to visit this place a few more times. 

62, Jalan Metro Pudu 2, 
Fraser Business Park, 
55200 Kuala Lumpur


A memorable photo collage

I had wanted my boss to give up this section of our wall but thanks to my dedicated staff, she took up the challenge and filled it up with much life and colours. 

Except that my face seems to be everywhere. Never been so exposed. LOL. 


Beautiful Accident ★★★☆☆ and Wonderful Nightmare ★★★★★

I was watching some music videos when I found this original sound track with some movie clips done for a Taiwanese movie, Beautiful Accident.

It looked interesting and so I watched it, the movie. 

It's about a lawyer who didn't have time in the world for anyone else but her own success and career. Until she got into an accident, accidentally died, and the heavens needed a week to get her life back. So in the meantime, she is required to fill in as a wife and mother of two.

Beautiful Accident (2017)

It was only later when I discovered that it was a remake of a Korean movie, Wonderful Nightmare. 

This is like when I discovered Miss Granny and 20 Once Again and watched both in sequence. I found their similarities and differences very interesting and wrote about it here

And obviously I watched Wonderful Nightmare too.

Wonderful Nightmare (2015)

My take? 

I find the Korean version very much better than the Taiwanese one. 

For one, when I was watching Beautiful Accident, I was griping on fact that with only 7 days it was too easy for the lawyer to get into her new life. I think it probably only took her 4 to 5 days and she was already comfortable in the role of a mother, caring and standing up for her kids. Impossible. And getting too comfortable with the husband in that short time.

The original Korean version is more realistic, albeit being a fantasy. She had one month and even at the tail end of the month, she didn't really settle into her new role and her reactions were more natural. 

And I prefer the Korean ending of the movie. 

I shan't give out any spoilers. 

If I got you interested, watch them. And I'd recommend the original one first, then the remake. Of course. 


My Tapestry of Songs

It's my birthday today and as I commute to work, I thought I'd shuffle play my 1000+ songs in my Apple Music and get surprise birthday gift songs one by one in a row. 

It's the happiest commute ever!

The first song itself gave me an idea to weave my own birthday gift by taking a sentence out of each song to make a tapestry of lyrics.

So I connected all 20 songs into one song all for myself. Yea, I was commuting quite a lot today. LOL. 

It was tough to connect 20 songs of different context, in its proper sequence as it plays, and I know it's far from perfect. It may even sound wrong but that's life isn't it?

We try to put things together but not everything seems to fit, and we never could attain that perfection we always wanted. 

But in the end, it is the LORD who holds our life together and it's only in him we find our true purpose, our final home. 


And he said age is just a number,
But it feels like I've opened my eyes again,
The Lord gave the word,
소리조차 내지 않을게요.
(sorijocha naeji aneulgeyo/
I won't even make a sound.) 

無論多麼壞 好心態,
(mou4 leon6 do1 mo1 waai6 hou2 sam1 taai3/
No matter how bad it can be, I am positive
가끔은 이 모든 게 두렵네,
(gakkeumeun i modeun ge duryeomne/
Sometimes, everything is so scary
같은 실수 다시 안해,
(gateun silsu dasi anhae/
I won't make the same mistake again
But thanks be to God.

Crucifixus etiam pro nobis,
(He was crucified also for us
Your grace abounds in deepest waters,
내가 살아가는 이유 너 하나야,
(naega saraganeun iyu neo hanaya/
The reason I live is only you)
오늘밤이 지나면 새로운 날이 시작돼.
(oneulbami jinamyeon saeroun nari sijakdwae/
When tonight passes, a new day will start)

내겐 끝도 없이 멈춰있는 시간 같아,
(naegen kkeutdo eopsi meomchwoinneun sigan gata/But it feels like it’s been eons)
고요한 침묵만 가득한 마음은,
(goyohan chimmungman gadeukan maeumeun/
My heart is filled with nothing but a still silence
오늘 그리고 지금 나의 삶은 도대체 무엇을 위하지,
(oneul geurigo jigeum naui saleun dodaeche mueoseul wihaji/Today and this moment, what is the purpose of my life?
I'm giving my all and I know peace will come.

I'm gonna give you my heart,
No holding back, no holding out,
And it was there that you found me,
You know I want that, home.

Troye Sivan, Seventeen 
Rachel Platten, Better Place 
Handel George Frideric, The Messiah 
Chen, Love Words 

Yoga Lin, Worst Come to Worst 
BTS, Anpanman 
Sik-K, Sorry (1000) 
Handel George Frideric, The Messiah 

Antonio Lotti, Crucifixus 
Hillsong, Where Oceans Rise 
4Men, 너 하나야 (Only You) 
Taeyang, Stay With Me 

10cm, That 5 Minutes 
Chen, Flower 
Bewhy, OK 
Sia, Helium 

Coldplay, A Sky Full of Stars 
Rend Collective, All That I Am 
Gungor, Late Have I Loved You 
BTS, Home


A sunburst of musical diamonds

I have always found public praying hard and would rather not do it, but I still have to as a worship leader, and so when I came across this book, I quickly bought a copy and began reading.

Leading in Prayer, A Workbook for Worship
by Hughes Oliphant Old

I have only just started but have already found it very useful. My next rostered duty will be a month away, which gives me enough time to finish reading it.

It will definitely become my reference book from now on when I prepare to worship lead. 

It is also a very good read. Whilst reading the chapter on The Psalms as Prayer, there is a considerable section on singing the Psalms. And I read this line, highlighted here:

I like how the author described it as "a sunburst of musical diamonds." 

Wow, it definitely makes me want to check it out. 

It is indeed lovely and I wish I'll be able to one day sing it in a cathedral with the most wonderful acoustics. 

Check it out, if you do appreciate 15th century high church music, that is. 


The crazy tonal languages

My dad is a Cantonese and my mom a Teochew. And I grew up speaking English and Cantonese at home. I don't know any Teochew though. 

I drove them out for lunch today and we began talking about singing in Mandarin and Cantonese whilst we listen to Taiwanese singing in Cantonese and Koreans in Mandarin.

The Chinese languages and dialects are all tonal languages and would you believe that Cantonese has 9 tones, 6 common tones with an additional 3? 

I figured out what the 6 are but still have no idea what the other 3 stand for.

And here is an interesting article, aptly titled Nine Tones of Hell, that says, "There are some Cantonese tones that only dogs can hear." 


I found the 9 tones here and it is amazing that all the 9 tones are the numbers 0 to 9. 

But it may be difficult to remember the sequence by numbers. And so here's another way with more memorable sentences, but only the first 6 tones. Pick which works for you, I pick number 2.

1. 身份証唔會換
san1 fan2 zing3 ng4 wui5 wun6
ID card does not need to be renewed

2. 豬扒配牛腩飯
zu1 pa2 pui3 ngao4 nam5 faan6
Pork chop with beef belly rice

3. 輸咗佢唔怕認
syu1 zo2 kui3 ng4 pa5 jing6
Defeated, he is not afraid to admit.

4. 交錢去行政部
gaau1 cin2 hoei3 hang4 zing5 bo6
Enough money to go to the administrative office 

There are claims that tone language speakers have an enhanced perception in musical pitch. They say that we are better in telling apart pitches that are close together. I'm not sure if that is true because I do know someone who speaks Mandarin and Cantonese and probably a couple more dialects but when she sings, she couldn't quite hold her pitch.

But back to those songs we were listening to in the car, which we couldn't entirely understand what was sung, I notice it's not so much the tone that's the problem, since they are already being "sung in tones". Chinese and especially Cantonese songs must to be composed in their tones for them to sound natural. 

The problem is more the consonants. 

But that's another crazy complicated thing.


Tired but happy

I'm tired but happy.

It was a really long day today with back to back meetings but I'm happy with how the day went.

My colleague did say to me once that it seems to take very little to make me happy. 

I'm not sure if that's the case but now at this age, I think I have lowered down my life expectations. 

Life's not perfect but nonetheless, I feel I'm blessed and I'm thankful to God for it. 

Trust in the LORD, and do good; 
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD, 
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
~ Psalm 37:3-4 (ESV)


Why Korean Dramas?

Like I have mentioned before, I have two good friends whom I chat often with, about Korean movies and dramas, and one of them said today that she doesn't want to watch any more dramas after "soooo many years of watching" (ten or more years probably).

I told her it wouldn't happen.

I had never understood why some people are so addicted to Korean dramas. 

Until I started watching one. 

And I would always blame my niece, and she'd always be amused by it. 

In short, what happened was she was at my house one day and I gave her the TV remote. She put on a Korean drama and the rest is history. 

That was in June 2016, and I've been hooked as a result for three years now. 

You have been warned. Don't start or you'll never stop. 

Why you may ask, like I did, would anyone be so addicted to Korean dramas?

I can now tell you why.

1. Their scriptwriters. They are really good storytellers. Sure they have familiar storylines but some are really ingenious ones. Two good examples are Defendant and Squad 38. You may say the latter is about a boring tax team (a tax team??!) but you'd never expect those multiple plot twists in every episode. 

2. The actors. The good ones are really good. Korean shows are more emotive and you can see and feel them as the character, not as the actor. And they do so well in character development that you'd want to vie for them, if you can, with your life. And you have to see the kids, their emotions, for example like Kim Kang Hoon here in Mr. Sunshine. 

3. The cinematography. Most of the dramas are produced like movies. Some of the scenes and set ups are really breathtaking. Look at these two scenes from Arthdal Chronicles. 

And I must include this one, my all-time favorite scene from 100 Days My Prince. 

4. Their themes. You sometimes get to learn about a particular theme or context or industry that the drama is based on. And they make them as real and as accurate as they can. One good example is the drama Cheese in the Trap. Even though the drama really got me very frustrated (some do, so pick and choose well), I learnt a lot about Self Victimisation as a psychological sickness. 

5. They're clean. I must say that I got tired of American shows with their frequent nudity and sex scenes. Korean dramas are mostly clean though some can get quite violent. 

6. They're not long. I know, I know. They are not short either. But comparing to the American ones that can last 10 seasons, hence 10 years, most Korean dramas are just 16, 20 or 24 one-hour episodes, and they are done. I'm not including those 50, or 60 or 100 over episodes ones. I never touch those. 

So thinking of giving them a try?


How to get rid of crickets?

Some crickets have somehow gotten into our bedroom and it's wrecking havoc. They are so loud, it's hard to just ignore. 

And the irony is I've instinctively treated it as white noise...until my husband mentioned it. 

We tried hunting them out but the sound is so loud it's reverberated throughout the entire room. 

Any idea how to get rid of them?

Maybe the best way is get in a few female crickets...


You sure it's Coke Zero?

My three favorite caffeine fix: coffee, tea and Coke, Zero to be precise, since I'm cutting down on sugar.

Whenever we are at our favorite place with free flow of drinks, my son will go fill up our paper cups and I'd always ask, you sure this is Coke Zero? 

And he'd just give me that look. 

But when I didn't ask him that question today was when it mattered. 

He drank it and said, "This is not Coke Zero." 

Apparently, it was switched between the two and I drank half a cup of sugar-filled drink. 


Two and a half years, two languages

I wrote Five Interesting Things about Learning a Language and that was way back in February 2017.

Wow, how time has travelled. 

I wrote about these 5 things:
1. There are five sets of people on language acquisition: monolingual, bilingual, trilingual, multilingual and polyglot
2. There are five categories of languages on amount of time required to acquire them
3. We desire to learn a new language based on the prestige of the speaker
4. What it takes to acquire a new language to an intermediate level
5. Chinese is the hardest language in the world, in absolute terms, even for the Chinese themselves

Check it out here for the details. 

While I read the article again today, item 4 stood out for me. That section was about the length of time you need to acquire a new language and exactly how much time you need to invest on it.

And I said that, "I will only be able to dedicate an hour a day, at best, and (with that) it will take me three years to learn a new language."

I did not mention then that I was trying to learn two languages at one go - Korean and Mandarin. (I didn't want to say it for fear it will not last.)

I know some Mandarin, but I can't read or write it. 

And I know next to nothing when it comes to the Korean language. 

That was two and a half years ago, not yet three, and how do you think I have fared?

Not very good but not that bad either.

I can read some Mandarin, but still can't write. I blame it on the pinyin keyboard. And I still have not picked up the habit of speaking to my friends and colleagues in Mandarin. I am still sticking to what I'm comfortable with, English and Cantonese, and some Malay sometimes. 

I can understand what my Korean friends text me in simple Korean and I would reply them, in what I think that would sound weird to them. But what's important is that they actually understand me.

Not too bad, eh?

Two and a half years, two languages. 


Create in Me a Clean Heart

I was leading worship today, and with today's theme according to Psalm 51, I chose this song by Sovereign Grace and like most of their songs, it's timing is quite interesting. Take a listen. It's quite a good one.


My identity and meaning of life

I checked out today's reading in Paul David Tripp's New Morning Mercies and I loved it.

For someone who is always asking about meaning of life, I have to remind myself that in Christ, I don't have to, because I already have an identity and meaning of life. 


Chen of EXO, Flower

Two of my friends who are very into Korean movies and dramas are not, unlike me, into Korean music at all. 

I suppose it's because I love music a lot and even if I could not fully understand what they are singing, I still can appreciate their excellent vocals and music production, which I must say, is very good. 

I find that whilst most singers are just ok, this one is truly exceptional. Just take a listen to him here. Chen has a good clear voice with superb control.

Except that he sounds almost the same in this whole album that I cannot listen to more than three songs at any one time. 


Late but forgiven

My church pastor was asking me today what he could pray for me as I prepare for worship leading this Sunday.

My request was simple: "To have my mind set and centered on him. I have too much many things crowding out God."

And the funny thing, or not so funny thing rather, was that I had so many things in mind today that I totally forgot about music practice!

Oh no, oh no, oh no. 

Thankfully I didn't have a band involved like before. I have one keyboardist who was kind and gracious to forgive me and I still turned up for practice. 

Late but forgiven. 


From music to mercies

We have completed the book that we were using for our short devotion time during our Grace Notes weekly practice and after hunting quite a long while for a new book, we finally settled on this one.

New Morning Mercies, A Daily Gospel Devotional
by Paul David Tripp

It wasn't easy to find a good book. I had wanted to get one that is music related or one written with musicians in mind like this one were were using.

Crescendos and Diminuendos, Meditations for Musicians and Music Lovers
by Jack Coleman

Every chapter of this book is a short devotion based on an Italian musical term, e.g. Legato, Da Capo, Rallentando, etc. It was very well done and we enjoyed every reading in every practice. 

And so I had quite a high expectation for our next book but I couldn't find one that is both excellent and music related. 

I had to finally settle for one that is not based on music but on the grace and mercy of God. I

hope it will serve to help us focus on God every week when we come to practice and to sing. That would be what's most important, music related or not.


Do you mind map?

I use mind maps a lot to help me think.

In my IOS days, I have purchased a lot of apps but settled with MindNode5 which in my opinion is the best. I can't remember what all the other apps were. I had iThoughts and Total Recall and one more I think.

But I could not find MindNode in Android and so I need to hunt for a good alternative and settled with SimpleMind Pro. I got the PC version as well.

Why mind map works for me?

I suppose my brain does not work in a linear way. Stuff in my mind are all over the place and I sometimes have a lot of stuff hidden and forgotten. So I use mind maps to associate, connect and trigger my thoughts to help me think and put everything on paper, and in this case, an app.

I use to stick to paper but since I started using the PC version, it is meeting my needs. I do have the freedom to move things around and disconnect and reconnect as I see it in a bigger picture, which I can't do on paper.

Just that on paper, it looks much more visual and vivid, which I really like.

But sigh, we cannot have the cake and eat it too.


I went to watch Phantom of the Opera!

Melissa and I went to watch Phantom of the Opera today.

It was extremely well done. 

People were lining up to take pictures at the entrance and since we were early, we got in line as well. 

I googled "what to know before watching Phantom of the Opera" and what most people said was, "nothing! Just enjoy it fresh. And the plot is not complicated anyway." And that was what I did. I did not read any synopsis and did not even find out anything about the characters. It was only here that I see ah, there are three main characters: The Phantom, Christine Daae, and Raoul. 

We were not allowed to take any pictures during the play and so we took some before, during intermission and after.

We were early. By the time it started, the front seats were all filled. The back seats were sparsely occupied. Here is the first scene of the Opera de Paris, where old theatre items are to be auctioned. The huge iconic chandelier is the middle piece on stage. 

This was intermission. And the chandelier was lifted high onto the ceiling. The production and sets of the play was very well done, meticulous and very realistic. 

The curtain call. It was a great show. 

And I must mentioned that the tenor, Jonathan Roxmouth who played the part of The Phantom was very good. I was all enthralled and mesmerised when he sang The Music of the Night. 

And in his last scene was so moving I bet many teared. I almost did.  Well, a little.  

I found this YouTube video of him singing the same song in a recital, not a play. But it was just as good. Though here I don't quite like his breathing which I didn't notice in the play. 

But his control. Impeccable. His interpretation. Spot on. 

I could listen and watch him over and over again.