Friday, March 31, 2017

Things I take for granted

Our trip to Ipoh was for just a short 2 days 1 night thing and it's time to drive back today after lunch. But while I was driving back, I was a bit worried. 

I was using the trunk road yesterday and as I was trying to avoid some dirt on the road, I drove over a rather large pothole I didn't see and the thump on my wheels was bad. My mom got down to take a look but she said they still looked okay.

I stopped by the petrol station for a refill before we head home today and I took a look at all four tyres. I noticed that the front ones aren't in very good condition. I realized that I didn't check my wheels to ensure they are up to a long distance trip before even starting off yesterday. 

Ah...the things I always take for granted that they will work and alway work. I only hope they will not fail me before I realize it too late. 


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Wonderful Things of the World #3: Dried Squid

I took a drive up north to Ipoh for a short stay with my parents, to spend some time with them and whilst we are at lunch today, my mom bought a packet of dried squids. 

There are many kinds of dried squids but this is by far the best I've tasted. It's light in colour and in strips. It may not be so healthy but it's oh so yummy. 


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Prayer #1: These Inward Trials

I asked the Lord, that I might grow 
In faith, and love, and every grace; 
Might more of His salvation know, 
And seek more earnestly His face.  

T'was He who taught me thus to pray  
and He I trust has answered prayer,  
but it has been in such a way  
it almost drove me to despair.  

I hoped that in some favored hour 
At once He'd answer my request, 
and by His love's constraining power 
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.  

Instead of this, He made me feel 
the hidden evils of my heart; 
And let the angry powers of hell 
Assault my soul in every part.  

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed 
Intent to aggravate my woe; 
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, 
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.  

'Lord, why is this?' I trembling cried, 
'Wilt thou pursue Thy worm to death?' 
'This in this way,' the Lord replied, 
'I answer prayer for grace and faith.  

These inward trials I employ 
From self and pride to set thee free; 
And break thy schemes of earthly joy, 
That thou mayst seek thy all in Me.'  

~ John Newton


Sunday, March 26, 2017

New Friends becoming Old Friends


Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends.
~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them. 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

To be with old friends is very warming and comforting. 
~ Ian Ziering

Lay this unto your breast: Old friends, like old swords, still are trusted best. 
~ John Webster

Old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.
~ Athenaeus

Make new friends, but keep the old; Those are silver, these are gold. 
~ Joseph Parry


Saturday, March 25, 2017

I hope I am finally learning Mandarin

I finally decided to purchase the RM105 Anki iOS flashcard app. It's crazy right? Especially when all three of the computer, web and Android apps are free of charge. 

I have never spent so much on an app before. The last time I spent about RM60 was on a GPS app, before Waze was available. 

I have decided to get it because I can see that it is quite a powerful app and I am actually learning a language. I found this free HSK1 deck that suit my needs and I ended up purchasing the whole set from HSK1 to HSK5. I got it with a very good discount from here

HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi) or the Chinese Proficiency Test is an international standardized exam which tests and rates Chinese language proficiency. Here is a sample of one of its flashcards in Anki:

It comes with a recording of the sentence. Using the SRS method, if I got it right, I can either tap to review it again in one or four days time, depending on my familiarity with it. 

I like it that it presents the HSK characters in sentences rather than just words. I once bought the StickyStudy app with HSK1 but I found it so hard to learn it character by character. It was boring and I can't put them in any context and meaning. With Anki, I hope I will be able to at least learn some basic Mandarin within the next few months. 

I hope I will graduate from being a banana to not be one anymore! (Banana, being a Malaysian slang for "outside yellow, inside white".)


Friday, March 24, 2017

Rock It Now!


We had our 2017 annual dinner with a Rock It Now theme. It was quite fun dressing up with all-black including my lipstick. 


And for the first time, I won an annual dinner lucky draw. Not bad with a 3% probability of winning the bigger prizes. But I'm not an Android user. Anyone interested? I'll sell it cheap. 


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Love the questions...not seek the answers

You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves—like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. The point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I bought four books

I buy books when I am waiting for something and I just did that today. I bought these four Kindle books. They are on sale anyway. Except for the first book at $3.99, the rest are only $1.99 a copy. 

How Should We Then Live?
by Francis A. Schaeffer 

Surprised by Oxford, A Memoir
by Carolyn Weber
Miracles and Mayhem in the ER
by Brent Rock Russell

"You Look Like That Girl..."
by Lisa Jakub


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

An app for $25?

I have started using the Memrise app for a few months now and I find it quite good and effective. However, in reading Fluent Forever, it recommended using the spaced repetition or SRS method. 

And the very much talked about SRS app is Anki

The PC app is free and apparently it is a very powerful tool. But its iOS app cost $25! That is crazy. 

But there are many who swears by it and felt that it is worth the $25. 

It was said that the developer spent years developing the app supported by donations but it wasn't enough to sustain his work and so when he created the iOS app, and charged good money for it. So in a sense, it's like a donation to support his work across all the platforms. I suppose it sort of make sense in that he could also distribute the charges across all platforms, meaning I would have to pay for the PC version I am using now for free. 

It is frustrating though that the Android app is free of charge. It seems however, the Android version was not developed by him. 


Monday, March 20, 2017

What new thing did you learn today?

I was following a lecture on Coursera today and the professor said we should aim to learn a new thing everyday, and I think that is a brilliant thing to do. 

I am an avid learner and I do learn new things quite often. But I don't usually acknowledge that I do and on days when I am really busy and too occupied with routine, I don't learn anything at all. 

Since I like to keep list of stuff, maybe I should keep a daily list of things I learn everyday just to make sure I do. What more with the many resources we have online, learning new things has become so easy these days. 

Here are 40 places where you can learn something new, and that is just the beginning. 


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Only one thing true, Jesus it is you

I learnt this song last year and I slowly fell in love with it.  It was in my darker moments over the past year that this song have touched me and moved me, back to trusting all in God, in Jesus, even if nothing seems to be right. 

Jesus It Is You - True Worshippers (Composed by Ben Manusama)


Saturday, March 18, 2017

My biological clock failed me

I am bad at time management but I always make sure I am punctual. However, I turned up late for something this morning. I have always been waking up very early lately and I thought I could trust my so-called biological clock but it failed me today. I had a 9 o'clock thing to attend to but I woke up at 8:55! Thankfully, it wasn't that far away from home and I wasn't that late as a result. But still I was late nonetheless, no excuse. I need to be more careful.

If I have made an appointment with you, I owe you punctuality, I have no right to throw away your time, if I do my own. 
~ Richard Cecil

Punctuality is the politeness of kings. 
~ Louis XVIII of France

Punctuality is the soul of business. 
~ Thomas Chandler Haliburton

Punctuality is the virtue of the bored. 
~ Evelyn Waugh


Friday, March 17, 2017

Google Photos surprised me

I just started using Google Photos and to my surprise I found that it has on its own accord created a panoramic picture out of two shots which I have taken.

I am not sure if this is considered as artificial intelligence, but it does seem to be. Isn't it magnificent?


Thursday, March 16, 2017

How much is enough? It's all in the mind

My colleagues and I had lunch in Samplings at 14 in Berjaya Times Square. It's fine dining and food is served in small portions but as I counted the calories, it could come up to 600 or 700, which is a lot for a meal.

But one of us felt it wasn't enough and went for an extra helping of soup from the deli next door! 

But it's all in the mind, don't you think?

Photos by Teresa Lee

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

And I thought water is just water

In my reading of The Art and Craft of Tea, I found this interesting section on water.

The author, Joseph Wesley Uhl said, "Most water contains molecules of dissolved oxygen. People often refer to water containing high levels of dissolved oxygen as tasting 'crisp', whereas they refer to water containing low levels of dissolved oxygen as tasting 'dull'. A crisp-tasting tea is unequivocally preferable to a dull-tasting tea.Therefore, it is important that your water be aerated; it should contain dissolved oxygen."

I have not come across water as tasting crisp before, like it's potato chips, but I can certainly agree that sometimes the water that I drink has this dull taste to it, that it is because of the absence of dissolved oxygen.

How I wish now I have an access to fresh spring water.

I am beginning to understand why my son refuses to take water that I boil at home. He prefers bottled mineral water that I purchase. I remember asking him why, and he told me it is because he does not like its taste.

As for me, I am okay with boiled water—I grew up with it—but I do not like the reverse osmosis water as it gives me a dry sense in the mouth and throat after taking it. I don't think reverse osmosis water is good for us but I drink it almost every day at work.

And I thought water is just water.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A live experience with a self-victimizer

I was facilitating a training on teamwork, communication and influencing skills for managers today, and at the end of the session, one of them started a conversation with me wanting to find out ways to manage someone in her life. She felt that she finds it so difficult to manage the person, and whatever she said or did, it does not seem to bring any help or change. She is very frustrated and could not for the life of her figure out why the person is behaving in that way. 

We tried to look at the models which I have shared during the session, but after an hour of trying to understand her predicament, it began to sound more and more like a classic case of self-victimization.

I recognized it because like what I had blogged about a week agoDo You See Yourself as a Victim?where I was watching a Korean drama and found the whole drama quite frustrating because almost every character was self-victimizing themselves to the core, when she described to me how the person had been behaving, it began to sound so familiar, and I found myself inferring to the drama describing to her what self-victimization looks like. 

Little did I know that it pays to watch Korean dramas sometimes! 

I advised her to read up about the behaviour and I did some search for it myself and found this excellent paper published by INSEAD: Are You a Victim of the Victim Syndrome? (2012)

It is a very informative paper. It describes the behaviour, provides a checklist that can be used to identify the sufferers, describes the concept of secondary gain (the "benefits" people get from perpetuating a problem), the developmental origins of the victim mind-set, and advice on how to help people who suffer from the victim syndrome. 

The world that these people live in appears to be filled with victims, victimizers and rescuers. They are usually victims by choice and they fall into a spiral cycle of repeated playing the game of being a victim, becoming a victimizer of others, and looking for rescuers but ironically refusing to be "saved". 

In my last post, I said that those who have this syndrome will never realize it until someone points it out to them. But now I think even that is a very challenging thing to do. It will take a lot for them to realize and admit they have a problem. 

The article says, "People who like to play the victim must challenge their ingrained beliefs, and learn to assume responsibility and care for themselves, rather than look elsewhere for a savior...what helps victims best is the development of a healthier self-concept."

They need to own their own lives and be honest about themselves, and that, is a tall order. 

If you have such a person in your life, and more so if that person is someone important to you, much care is needed in looking for the best way to get to them to make them realize the vicious cycle they are in. 


Monday, March 13, 2017

Design Thinking for Innovation

I have been introducing to a lot of people and in checking the site on mobile before I sent the link to a friend, I saw this course on "Design Thinking for Innovation".

I have been seeing and hearing this thing Design Thinking for too many times now, at work and even in church, where the playschool do have some professionals in to run a cool Design Thinking for Kids event. Moreover, I will be meeting someone at work to check it out.

So I signed up to find out a little more about it.

I have just started on Week One but I must say it is a very good start and I look forward to learning more about it in the weeks to come.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Art and Craft of Tea

The Art and Craft of Tea: An Enthusiast Guide to Selecting, Brewing and Serving Exquisite Tea
by John Wesley Uhl

I wanted to read something lighter and thought this would be an interesting read. It is. I love tea and this would feed me with much interesting info-facts but the only problem is I usually don't remember much of what I read and I'd soon forget most of it. 


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Happy People #2

We celebrated my cousin brother's 55th birthday today with family, with my uncle, aunties, cousins, nephews and nieces. 

This was the cake we got for him, not that he plays mahjong. Too amusing for words really. 

The whole gang though not all in the family was able to make it. 

Us girls. 

It is his plan to celebrate it every five years, like he did when he was fifty  and we should take similar pictures in five years timetable 60!


Friday, March 10, 2017

Grace Notes, daily readings with Philip Yancey

Grace Notes: Daily Readings with a Fellow Pilgrim
by Philip Yancey

I saw this book today and couldn't help but buy it since it has the same name as our choral group. I have not read Philip Yancey before and I've always wanted to, so I think this will be a good start. 

I'll naturally use for our devotion time during our weekly Grace Notes practice. 


Thursday, March 09, 2017

Fluent Forever by Gabriel Wyner

Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It
by Gabriel Wyner 

I have started reading this book and found it really interesting. The writing is very engaging and I must say, the author as well, in person. I came in contact with him once when I watched one of his videos in YouTube (he is a professional singer as well, and that was the catalyst to his language learning) and I wanted to ask him a question. I found his email address, wrote him an email and he replied quite promptly without any qualms. 

I have just started on the book, written for those who would like to learn a new language on their own. 

But it is quite a costly activity: it may come up to a start of RM400 for me to buy the textbook, frequency dictionary and the AnkiWeb app alone. But I think it will be a good investment. 


Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Nice to be alone sometimes

I went to get a coffee at Starbucks after lunch at work yesterday and decided to take a seat and enjoy some quiet time on my own. 

It was nice. 

I did a bit of thinking, writing and reading. But when the seats surrounding me began to be taken by people and when they started busy talking to each other, it's time I took my leave. 

My colleague however, told me she saw me and asked why was I seated alone in Starbucks. For something so natural for me, I suppose for an extravert like her, it is an unusual thing to do. 

Coffee in Starbucks is getting pricier but it's nice to do that once in awhile: enjoy a coffee all on my own. 


Monday, March 06, 2017

I'm worried

I have not felt worry for quite awhile but for some reasons, I am feeling it right now. 

I found these sayings helpful. I may not however hold some of the people here in high regard. But for the sake of what they said about worry, I found it helpful nonetheless. 

When you begin to worry, go find something to do. Get busy being a blessing to someone; do something fruitful. Talking about your problem or sitting alone, thinking about it, does no good; it serves only to make you miserable. Above all else, remember that worrying is totally useless. Worrying will not solve your problem. 
~ Joyce Meyer

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy. 
~ Leo Buscaglia

In a storm of struggles, I have tried to control the elements, clasp the fist tight so as to protect self and happiness. But stress can be an addiction, and worry can be our lunge for control, and we forget the answer to this moment is always yes because of Christ. 
~ Ann Voskamp

If you don't know how to die, don't worry; Nature will tell you what to do on the spot, fully and adequately. She will do this job perfectly for you; don't bother your head about it. 
~ Michel de Montaigne

I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn't need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about. 
~ Henry Ford

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
~ Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life...But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6:25a, 33-34 ESV


Sunday, March 05, 2017

Why I hate conference calls

I was chatting with a friend and discussed about how difficult we find having conference call meetings at work, especially when all are speaking in different English accents. My friend, who uses English only as a second language, was worried that since he is having problems understanding his counterparts during conference calls, he will also be having problems communicating when he goes to the U.S. 

I had a bad experience once when I was in a conference call with a client in Hanoi with a Vietnamese, a German and a Korean. My brain was so busy trying to listen and understand them in the three different English accents that I only had a vague idea what was discussed. I couldn't remember what I said during the call, but I'm sure I didn't make much sense myself. 

It got so much better when I finally flew to Hanoi and met them in person. Seeing their faces and watching them as they speak made it much easier for me to understand them better. 

As such, I can probably deduce that when we were on a conference call, I was only using one of my five senses, i.e. hearing, to try to understand the message and hence my brain may be on overload trying to hear the message as well as to hear the non-verbal messages through their voice pitch, register and prosody in order to take in the full message transmitted. But when we meet in person however, we take in message through sight as well, watching their facial expressions and body language. 

So I suggested to my friend if he can carry out the calls via video conference rather than just voice. I got to know about recently when someone wanted to connect with us at work. 

I have not used it before and so I tried it out with him, and was surprised with it myself on how easy it was to use. All you need to do is to create a URL link and send the link to anyone you want to connect with. They just need to use the URL address and voilĂ , the meeting is on. There is no need to register or sign in to anything. Just the URL address will do. 

But when it comes to some companies, like the one he's in, it's policy that prevents him from using stuff like that, even though it makes communication all the more effective. 

Well, policy is policy; can't run from away from it.


Saturday, March 04, 2017

Do you always see yourself as a victim?

My colleague recommended me the Korean drama Cheese in the Trap. She said it is a good watch. 

I am not sure though. It is engaging nonetheless, but it is only good if you want to see how self-victimization plays out in society. 

In the drama, practically every character, except the female protagonist and maybe two of the male co-leads, portray this self-victimization behavior to its fullest. 

Self-victimization is a behavior with a belief that one is always the victim and that it is always another person's fault and not their own. They are always in the right and they feel they should be treated fairly and treated right. 

Some take self-victimization inwardly and become depressed as a result. Others act it out by justifying abuse and manipulation of others as a coping strategy. 

It is quite frustrating to watch how the characters in the drama fell deeper and deeper into the holes their dig for themselves, as they blame their failures on others, and not taking any responsibilities for themselves. It is also frustrating for me that there is very little forgiveness in their relationships. 

I think self-victimization is one behavior you will never realize you have until someone points it out to you, and that also depends on how well you generally take and receive feedback from others. 

I read this article that explains the behavior very well: Self-Victimizing Again?

It says we all have in ourselves different degrees and balance of internal and external locus of control. 

If you have a high level of internal locus of control, you believe that "effort, hard work, learning from setbacks, soliciting feedback, eventually lead to success." 

But if you have a high external locus of control, you will "attribute success to sources outside of your immediate control, i.e. luck, other individuals, environmental factors, accidental will not see how your own actions or lack of action may be at the root of how you generally feel about your life."

They blame their failures on other people or the situations they are in and not take responsibilities for themselves to make the change. It is a vicious cycle that will put them deeper and deeper into a spiral of defeat. Even if they do succeed in their revenge and payback from others, their negative actions will return to them badly in the long run. 

It is time we check our own behavior and see if we have a good balance of a high internal locus of control and low on the external. 

Are we always blaming others for our problems and failures? Do we always think about how others have wronged us? Do we find it hard or do we even think about forgiveness?


Friday, March 03, 2017

More a planner than a traveler

Watching my colleagues going off for holidays to Tokyo, to Bangkok made me feel like flying to a distant place for a vacation myself. 

But our current exchange rate is so bad it is no longer worth it to travel overseas. Where can I go locally for a holiday instead?

I searched for local secret hideouts but nothing appealed to me.

But how about Kota Kinabalu? Kuching? Grik?

I searched for available flights and fares, hotels, places to visit but by the time I spent two hours looking at them and partly planning it out, I don't feel like traveling anymore. 

Looks like I'm more a planner than a traveler. 


Thursday, March 02, 2017

Need to start thinking and learning again


With my recent subscription to Apple Music, I have been listening to it every time I commute to and from work and it is partly good and partly bad. Good in the sense, I am listening more to music but bad in that I am not thinking much anymore compared to when I used to drive in silence. 

So I decided to drive in quietness this morning and it was nice to go back to thinking again. 

I thought about what I have learnt over the past years and my recent fascination in language. 

I thought how I spoke about my fascination in language during my recent training facilitation sessions and the linguistics online course, Miracles of Human Language, which I have started taking in Coursera but never completing it. 

I thought it would be good if I went back to it and finish the lectures and assignments, that I should reduce my time in watching too much TV and do something more useful. 

I stopped the course because it got tough. Linguistics is not an easy topic and I wasn't able to answer some of the quiz questions and that frustrated me. 

But I shouldn't give up so easily. And so I went back to it today. I am thankful they are still running the course and all I had to do was to reapply to a newer stream. 

I hope I will be firm with myself and complete it this time. Crossing my fingers. 


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

My 7 Dream Jobs


I am too old to have a dream job, let alone seven, but I have them nonetheless. But when I define what I mean by a "dream job", you'll see why I have them. 

My take on a dream is that it is a dream and will always remain a dream, illusive and not attainable, a wishful thinking. But I am a dreamer to begin with, and that is fine with me to have dreams I will never attain. I love the mysterious feel in having them. 

How I come to have these dream jobs is because I have phases of fascination where I do put in quite a lot of resources into them. And having spent so much time and energy in them, I do wish I have become them. 

My seven dream jobs, in no particular order, are:

1. Writer
Anyone who knows me knows my love for books and reading. I collect them, I read them, some again and again, both fiction and non-fiction. I am fascinated with the authors' ideas and knowledge in their area of writing. I am usually amazed at how they express themselves, how plots would turn unexpectedly, and how they can hold the readers. I wish I could write like them. 

2. Theologian
I started having a love for the study of Christian theology about 15 years ago and invested a lot of time and resources into studying the various themes and subjects to get a good grasp of my belief. I did think of specializing in an area and move from there. 

3. Photographer
I got fascinated with photography about 10 years ago and invested quite a lot of money into getting a set of gears. I was also setting my eyes on really expensive lenses. I spent time studying the technicalities of photography but found following my gut more satisfying. I stopped going further when my camera went kaput. Now looking at the amazing photographs by professionals, it makes me wish I was one. 

4. Psychologist
I became fascinated with personality theories 15 years ago and since then I have reading and practicing it like a hobby with people who care to listen me. Psychology was the subject I thought of taking when I was planning for college but it was not something I could get into back then. I wish I had. 

5. Vocalist
I don't care if you have heard this repeated time and again on TV, but I love to sing, right when I was a kid. I started taking lessons maybe about 20 years ago, involved myself in a choral group 10 years ago, and took more serious lessons a few years ago. I suppose I can call myself a vocalist but only an amateur and choralist. But it is a dream to be a professional soprano, which will never happen. 

6. Philosopher
I got interested in philosophy many years ago when I was doing theology but I got more interested in it when I took an online business philosophy course recently. I wished I took it up when I was in college. 

7. Linguist
My fascination with language got a little more serious recently. I felt blessed to know several languages and found it so interesting that when I listen to other languages, there are similarities that tie us together. What more, the English language is used differently in different countries and cultures that when I say something to someone from another country, sometimes I have to think if they will understand what I am saying. 

There, what I wish I could be, which I know I will never be. Maybe when I retire, I may make something out of these 7 things which I have picked up. 

But wow, now that I look back, I certainly had a great time of learning in my last 15 to 20 years.