Thursday, May 31, 2012

What Should I Read Next?

While I was keeping up with my  reading lately, I was hunting around for a good tool that I can use to recommend me  books based  on the books that I have read and loved. I have used several,  and found this the best of all: What Should I Read Next?

The site may not look or function as sleek as Your Next Read, but I still prefer its simplicity. The more important thing though is that the books recommended are by far better and more interesting. The titles given are more varied because I prefer not to read any more books of the same theme but is interested to know what other books that I might like.

When I used Demick's "Nothing to Envy" in both the websites, YNR gave me more titles related to North Korea. In WSIRN however, one of the titles caught my attention -- Mary Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, which will now be my next read.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Book Review: Legacy

The Acclaimed Novel of Elizabeth, England's Most Passionate Queen -- and the Three Men Who Loved Her
By Susan Kay

I finally finished this book. It is good but not an easy read. I tend to keep referring to Wikipedia to check the facts as well as to figure out who's who. The author has the habit of changing the characters' names and reference fluidly. For example, Robin Dudley, which she refers to as Dudley from the start suddenly became Leicester at the same breath, after he was made Earl of Leicester.

But all in all, it is good. It is fascinating to read of whom historians regarded as England's greatest monarch. I know that this book is considered fiction albeit historical, in that other than the known facts, the rest are all made up. I am not sure if the book's portrayal of the queen's personality and character is accurate. If it is, she would then be quite an amazing person, cool and calculated, sometimes with empathy and yet most times ruthless and cold.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Men in Black III

I had not planned to watch this. I just happened to have a complimentary movie ticket and this happened to be the only movie that fitted the time I had today. I would have preferred to watch The Avengers or Battleship or The Lady.

I did not expect much and it wasn't so good. It has its moments, like the one on the beach, but that is all I can say about it.

I suppose it is not my kind of movies after all, but a free ticket is a free ticket.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Coincidently bored

Can I still say that there is no coincidences in life?

I posted on Tuesday on the subject of boredom.

On the next day as I was scanning the news, I found an article on work boredom.

Now on Sunday, the speaker preached about bored Christians (link coming up).

Three strikes.

Is this getting somewhere?


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lazy Saturday

It is nice enjoying a lazy day reading and watching TV. I don't sleep in the daytime, but found this song by John Lennon so apt.

When I wake up early in the morning,
Lift my head, I'm still yawning
When I'm in the middle of a dream
Stay in bed, float up stream

Please don't wake me, no
don't shake me
Leave me where I am
I'm only sleeping

Everybody seems to think I'm lazy
I don't mind, I think they're crazy
Running everywhere at such a speed
Till they find, there's no need

Please don't spoil my day
I'm miles away
And after all
I'm only sleeping

Keeping an eye on the world going by my window
Taking my time

Lying there and staring at the ceiling
Waiting for a sleepy feeling

Please don't spoil my day
I'm miles away
And after all
I'm only sleeping

Keeping an eye on the world going by my window
Taking my time

When I wake up early in the morning,
Lift my head, I'm still yawning
When I'm in the middle of a dream
Stay in bed, float up stream

Please don't wake me, no
don't shake me
Leave me where I am
I'm only sleeping


Friday, May 25, 2012

Book Review: Great Singers on Great Singing

Great Singers on Great Singing
By Jerome Hines

I have not finished reading this book yet, but I thought I'd review it anyway, since I am not sure when I will finish it. And that is with the fact that I am kind of reading 9 books now at one go.

The book started off well, and it was quite interesting to read what the singers have to say about some of the basics of singing. The author, Jerome Hines, interviewed about 40 opera singers to write this book, a chapter for everyone of them. He tries to find out several common things, namely breathing technique, the passagio of passage in the voice, vocalising and warming up, support, open throat.

I don't attend or listen to opera much, but I did learn some useful things reading into their accounts and views on singing.

For example:

"The voice starts in the mind, not in the body." This is very true, Joanna, our Grace Notes conductor always ask us to think of the note first, of how it should sound before singing it.

"No gasping...ever!" This is very interesting because if you notice most of the pop singers these days, their breathing is so loud that it is disconcerting. My husband blamed it on me as he now could not listen to Kat Deluna sing without noticing her loud breathing. The other singer I found with extremely loud breathing is Lea Michele, who plays Rachel in the Glee series.

"We all have a little phlegm in the morning from sleep, which disappears by midday." No wonder! We at Grace Notes finds it hard when we have to sing in the wee hours of the mornings when we were invited to sing in church services.

"The piano you cannot learn." I am saddened to read this, that "a real good piano...a head sound, this you have to have. You have to be born with it." Christine, my fellow Grace Noter, sing high notes in piano (soft and quiet tone) very well, which I can't, however much I try. Now I sadly know why.

However, when I got to the middle of the book, I lost interest. Even though each of the singers have different views on their technique, being an amateur in singing, it becomes quite repetitive to me.

But finish it I will, the one thing that will motivate me is the chapter on the late Luciano Pavarotti that I have not read. But then again, it is only because of all the singers interviewed, he is the only one I know about.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rose-Coloured Glasses

Do you find yourself looking at the past with rose-coloured glasses in regret? Do you feel that things used to be so much better than now, that you wish you were back where you were, when in actual fact, you have forgotten past hardship and struggles?

Some people tend to live in the past as a result. They forget that they have suffered through the same problems as they are facing now. It is just that these problems come in different shapes and colours.

Let go of the past, live the present and look forward.

You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.
~ Jan Glidewell


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Are you bored?

Boredom. This subject came up in my training session today when I was to role play a high potential employee but one that is bored. I do not like role playing because I just can't act, but playing bored isn't too difficult, I found.

I read somewhere that boredom is a complex process. I wonder what is meant by that. A process? As in what happens when someone is bored?

I don't know but what would you do if you were bored? I think the first to do is to find out why. I think boredom is more than just having nothing to do. It is being in the wrong place doing the wrong things, wrong in the sense that it is just not right for you.

What would make me bored would be not being able to do what interest me, what is meaningful to me, or what is fulfilling to me. The trickier thing to do is to decide what to do after that. Finding a solution to that kind of boredom will be one of the most complicated things in life.


p/s And what do you know, in my regular checking out the news today, I found this: Is workplace boredom 'the new stress'?

Monday, May 21, 2012

25G of free cloud space

I have quite a number of PDF resources for reference but they are inconveniently stored in my netbook at home. And everytime I need to refer to something, I always wished my netbook was with me. I did think  about storing them in the cloud but my Dropbox account only has 2.75G space, and it was quite used up as well. And to buy more space is too expensive in Dropbox - 50G space cost USD99 a year!

So I started hunting around for some  more free space and what do you know - it was perfect timing - Microsoft has just launched its own version of cloud storage called SkyDrive with 7G free space.
But the beauty of it was that if you were a Hotmail account holder before 22 April 2012, you will be eligible for 25G of free space. My 11G folder of resources is finally accessible to me wherever I go, in all my devices.

You better go claim it before it is too late:


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Why Pray?

Prayer is one thing I struggle with. On one extreme, it is trying to figure it out in the sense that prayer is not something you demand of God to act on or it is a as-long-as-you-have-faith-or-God-will-not-hear-you. On the other extreme, I am struggling with the sovereignity of God and prayer in the sense that since he has ordained everything, I repeat, everything, then why pray - someone has said, it is as if we are trying to change God's eternal purpose, an undertaking that is feeble at best and arrogant at worst.

But what I know is that God has commanded that we pray, and pray I did, even though I could not fully understand why. I had approached it in the manner of being in a personal relationship with God, but I have now learnt whilst that in its itself is important, it is even more than that.

It is a participation in God's eternal plan and purposes. We pray because God commanded us, we pray because he fulfils his plan through our prayers as one of his means. That is what Jesus meant by praying in His name and praying in God's will - it is us participating in God's eternal plan. Wouldn't that very fact compels you to pray day and night? To pray unceasingly? To further expand our knowledge of him so that we know how and what to pray?

My gratitude to Matt Waymeyer, his postings on prayer has helped me understand prayer so much more:
If God Is Sovereign, Why Pray? (Part 1)
If God Is Sovereign, Why Pray? (Part 2)
If God Is Sovereign, Why Pray? (Part 3)
If God Is Sovereign, Why Pray? (Part 4)


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Happy people

It has been ages since I have been actively taking photographs and when my cousin brother Raymond requested that I take photos for him during his birthday celebration last week, I was apprehensive. I had to warn him that I am quite rusty at it.

But they didn't turn out too badly.

Here's Ray celebrating his 50th birthday.
He does not look a day older than 30!

He held a dinner for family and friends.
Four tables of 10-course Chinese dinner.

Happy Birthday Ray!!!

My pretty cousins

More pretty cousins

Here are my aunts and a rare shot of me
(being the photographer, I am happily out of sight)

And here are my some of favourite portraits shots. I love to take portraits. I love to capture each and every unique feature of an individual.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Seventy Times Seven

The one word that has filled me today is "forgiveness", and this reminded me of an old song that I have loved back in the 1980s: David Meece's Seventy Times Seven.

I have obviously lost the cassette with the song and even if I had it, I won't be able to play it. Thankfully there is YouTube.


This prison has no walls
This bondage has no chains
My memories have no mercy
There's no one left to blame
Wish I could force back
The hands of time
And right every wrong
Grant me just this one last chance
Before it's gone, gone, gone

How could I be so blind as to doubt your love?
How could I go on living without your love?

Seventy times seven
Will you forgive me for all that I've done
Seventy times seven
I'm so afraid of what I've become

For all the promises laid to waste
For all the seeds unsown
For all the justice I never faced
I must now atone
Is there a soul that can't be saved
Is there a heart that has no hope
Is there a peace that can still be made
Please say it's so

How could I be so blind as to doubt your love?
How could I go on living without your love?

Seventy times seven
Will you forgive me for all that I've done
Seventy times seven
I'm so afraid of the man I've become

Seventy times seven
Will you forgive me for all that I've done
Seventy times seven
Your love can save me from what I've become

Seventy times seven

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Review: Trick or Treatment

Trick or Treatment, The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine by Simon Singh & Edzard Ernst, MD

I got to this book when someone in my family introduced us to this alternative treatment called the Atlas Profilax method. They attested to its effectiveness and went as far as making arrangements for us to go visit the doctor.

I am not a proponent of alternative medicine although not totally against it. For me, if it makes sense in my limited knowledge and if it does not cost too much, I don't mind giving it a try. But I must know what is involved. So I checked this Atlas Profilax thing out. It is a maneuver to reposition the first vertebra cervical bone call the atlas. I thought that to be a very risky thing to do and decided to say no to my relatives. We will not take the risk and will suffer our current condition, rather than risking paralysis or death.

My husband then told me about this book written by Simon Singh. I have read his book on the Fermat Theorem before, and was much entertained by his writing of a technical subject for lay people. I did some research and found that he has written an article in The Guardian entitled The Spinal Trap. The doctors took him to court. He won.

I was intrigued. So I got hold of the book and started reading. (I am an ebook fan. Getting the book was as easy as search and Click to Purchase, all done In a couple of minutes snuggled in my couch.)

It is a good book. My only complain is that it is a tad too repetitive between the chapters. Maybe it is written like a reference book where if you were to just read the section on one alternative treatment, it would make sense.

Being a historical buff, albeit a newbie at it, I enjoyed the section on the history of medicine, on how it got to where it is today, where medicine and treatments are empirically tested to be reliable. The alternative treatments handled by this book involves chiropractic therapy, acupuncture, homeopathy and herbal medicine. The final section of the book gives short reviews of the other alternative treatments from the Alexander Technique to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the latter being very interesting to me since I almost grew up on it.

The conclusion of the book is this: there is very little empirical evidence to substantiate the effectiveness of those treatments except for several possible benefits.

All in all, it is a must-read especially if you take or consider these treatments. You should know the risks, as you should any conventional medicine.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Between Transfiguration and Ascension

For devotion in our Grace Notes practice today, we read Oswald Chambers' "His Ascension and Our Access" from his My Utmost for His Highest, and I found it very illuminating.

His Ascension and Our Access

It came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven —Luke 24:51

We have no experiences in our lives that correspond to the events in our Lord’s life after the transfiguration. From that moment forward His life was altogether substitutionary. Up to the time of the transfiguration, He had exhibited the normal, perfect life of a man. But from the transfiguration forward— Gethsemane, the Cross, the resurrection— everything is unfamiliar to us. His Cross is the door by which every member of the human race can enter into the life of God; by His resurrection He has the right to give eternal life to anyone, and by His ascension our Lord entered heaven, keeping the door open for humanity.

The transfiguration was completed on the Mount of Ascension. If Jesus had gone to heaven directly from the Mount of Transfiguration, He would have gone alone. He would have been nothing more to us than a glorious Figure. But He turned His back on the glory, and came down from the mountain to identify Himself with fallen humanity.

The ascension is the complete fulfillment of the transfiguration. Our Lord returned to His original glory, but not simply as the Son of God— He returned to His father as the Son of Man as well. There is now freedom of access for anyone straight to the very throne of God because of the ascension of the Son of Man. As the Son of Man, Jesus Christ deliberately limited His omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. But now they are His in absolute, full power. As the Son of Man, Jesus Christ now has all the power at the throne of God. From His ascension forward He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.


I have never seen it from that angle where Jesus' crucifixion, resurrection and ascension are related to his transfiguration. I know I have asked this question before: why was Jesus transfigured? What was involved in the transfiguration?

We die and resurrect with Christ and soon we will be ascended to be with him. How do we relate to him in his transfiguration?


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

To be honest with you...

I have recently noticed that this certain phrase has become so commonly used in professional settings that it has become like a virus or allergy that is impossible to cure.

I find this extremely annoying: "To be honest with you..."

Why do people say that before they state a point, and every other point for that matter? Do they imply that they are not honest at any other times?

We need to be mindful of what we say and how we say it. Interjecting statements with verbal tics will not help. If you need to buy some time to think before saying anything, just pause...and then state your point.


Monday, May 14, 2012

104 floors of Tiny Tower

I am seriously addicted to this mindless iPhone game. 104 floors now with new floors costing almost 1.7m coins and about 2 days and more for new floors to complete. It's crazy, but kinda fun, especially when I needed something to do that does not require any brain cells.

Here is my all-glorious 104 floors tower:


Sunday, May 13, 2012

The book and ebook debate

I recently had a debate with my husband and friends about which is better, book books (what I mean by hardcopy prints) or ebooks.

Being a proponent for ebooks -- since I found them so versatile, mobile and convenient, and with them so  much cheaper than printed books -- I obviously went all out to promote it. My friends were not convinced.

I do get it -- like them, I still like the feel and smell of books, but the mobility and convenience won me over though.

But my husband -- usually the smartest of whichever lot you put him in -- trumped the argument. His point was this: if you were trapped in your home during a war, you'd be more happy with a book book. Your ebook will not last for long. The battery will run out in no time, and you might not have a supply of electricity for long. It's a war.

He won.

Photo from Digital Trends

Saturday, May 12, 2012

My 50 Book Challenge 2011/12 - 2

Back in mid 2011, I challenged myself to read 50 books in 2011/12. The criteria was, as long as it is a book of any kind, of any topic, of any genre, be it print or electronic, whatever strikes my fancy. I took on that criteria because the last round I went on a challenge, I stuck to theological books. This time round, I wanted to be open to whatever that interest me.

I am reposting here the books I have read thus far, and I must say that all the books I read this year are very good. To me, they all deserve at least 4 stars, if not 5.

23. Time Warped, Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception
by Claudia Hammond (8-9/6/2012)

22. Stiff, the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
by Mary Roach (31/5-8/6/2012)

21. Ecclesiastes, Why Everything Matters
by Philip Graham Ryken (12/3-30/5/2012)

20. Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
by Susan Cain (3 Feb - 30 May 2012)

19. Legacy, The Acclaimed Novel of Elizabeth, England's Most Passionate Queen -- and the Three Men Who Loved Her
by Susan Kay (19-29 May 2012)

18. Nothing to Envy, Real Lives in North Korea
by Barbara Demick (4-5 May 2012)

17. The Upside of Irrationality,
The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home

by Dan Ariely (1-7 April 2012)

16. Trick or Treatment, The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine
by Simon Singh & Edzard Ernst, MD (11-13 March 2012)

15. How Music Works
by John Powell (6 February 2012)

14. The Help, A Novel
by Kathryn Stockett (11-16 January 2012)

13. The Other Boleyn Girl
by Philippa Gregory (8-9 October 2011)

12. My Name is Asher Lev
by Chaim Potok (12-15 September 2011)

11. Jonathan Stranger & Mr. Norrell: A Novel
by Susanna Clarke (27-?? August 2011)

10. Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God
by John Piper (15-16 July 2011)

9. Beside Ourselves, Our Hidden Personality in Everyday Life
by Naomi L. Quenk (5-?? July 2011)

8. Stone's Fall
by Iain Pears (1-5 July 2011)

7. Counselling and Psychotherapy, A Christian Perspective
by Tan Siang Yang (14-30 June 2011)

6. Jung - The Key Ideas
by Ruth Snowden (18-19 June 2011)

5. Nine Parts of Desire, The Hidden World of Islamic Women
by Geraldine Brooks (6-13 June 2011)

4. People of the Book, A Novel
by Geraldine Brooks (19 May - 5 June 2011)

3. Cathedral of the Sea
by Ildefonso Falcones (16-19 May 2011)

2. Introvert Power
by Laurie Helgoe (12-15 May 2011)

1. Pillars of the Earth
by Ken Follett (8-11 May 2011)


Friday, May 11, 2012

My once prolific writing

I am sitting here, still in the office at 1.13am, not knowing how long more will I need to be on standby for the project team. The last time I stayed back late was about two or three weeks ago, when I stayed till 4.00am but working. Now I am on standby.

I am too tired and sleepy to read the book I have with me and so I openned up my blog which I have not for the longest time ever. I did not even know that Blogger has changed its looks.

I began reading the poems that I have written over the past few years and the apocalyptic piece which I have penned 4 years ago. I couldn't quite believe what I read! It shows that I have been really dry in my writing lately. What inspired me to write those I really have no idea. Just glad that I did.

And I hope this will inspire and motivate me to be actively blogging again. I found myself nothing much to say lately. It shows I have not been really thinking thinking. Thinking I have been, just not on the right stuff.


It is now 2.57am and I am still here.


3.31am -- still here


post-script - I left office at 5am...yawnnnn...

Photo (c) 2006 Colin Adamson

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My prayer

I feel I have so much to say
And yet I have nothing
I feel I have so much to do
And yet there is nothing
Months have come and gone
And yet I feel I am nowhere
Here I am after all these years
And yet I feel ever so bare
Something is amiss
Something not quite there
Only this I know and this I do
That to my God I submit in prayer
In all the time I am with Him
I know on Jesus I surely can depend
His love, His grace, His joy, His peace
My Lord, my God, my Saviour, my Friend

(c) 2012 Pearlie Ng
All Rights Reserved