Thursday, November 30, 2017

Useless words that I use all the time

I gave a short brief at work about business writing and one thing I did highlight was the need to do away with useless business jargons and buzz words. 

And I obviously need to practice that myself as I notice that I use the word “basically” a lot.

I know that whenever I wanted to explain something or whenever I’m in a discussion, I will say that word all the time, every time. 

I don’t know when I got infected by it but I find that it’s a favourite of many. You hear it wherever you go and with most people whom you speak to. 

And I can’t seem to stop it from coming out of my mouth. 

When I am speaking and as I think to speak, I’d soon say “basi-”... and I would have no choice but to complete the word and get on with my speech, though my thoughts will be interrupted with some self-chiding going on. 

The trick now is to stop my brain from producing that now dreaded and useless word. 

But how? The brain thinks what it wants to think. 


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

I had a bad day...

...and I needed come comfort food, and had fried chicken and a llao llao frozen yoghurt. 

As much as the comfort was short lived, it was nevertheless a much needed one. 


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Microsoft’s AI app to learn Chinese

Today my hubby sent me a very interesting article and link: Microsoft’s AI language app will give you a friend to practice Chinese with.

I downloaded the app and it is very promising. It isn’t much at the moment with very limited lessons but if Microsoft continues to build on it, it will be a very useful tool. 

The AI allows you to be flexible with the responses required from you and thus giving you more freedom in answering the questions in ways that are more relevant to your context. 

The beginner level only has four short sections which I completed in less than 20 minutes, and I have just started on the intermediate level where keywords are given for you to use in the reply required. 

It’s worth a try and it’s free anyway!


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Two beautiful versions of Angels We Have Heard On High

I bet some of you are busy practicing for Christmas by now. 

We were practicing the Pentatonix version of Angel We Have Heard On High. Err...rather ambitious I know, but it’s a long story...but aren’t they awesome here. 

And then I noticed this Piano Guys version in YouTube and I love it even more. I could watch this again and again and again. 


Saturday, November 25, 2017

The “truth” of Job’s three friends?

We had a long break since our last CG bible study and we met for our fifth session today. 

We studied the first round of debate between Job and his three friends from Job 4-14. Oh yes, it was a long eleven chapters worth of passage that we tackled bit by bit using the questions in our workbook. 

We couldn’t complete the lesson because in the midst of studying and asking questions, we also spent time reflecting on other matters that arose based on the reading of Job and stories we share. And it was valuable. 

One takeaway for me was an answer to something that had bugged me for a long, long time. 

I find Job a difficult book to figure out. When I read the arguments given by the three friends, I always found that they were not wrong in what they said. But in the end though, the final verdict from God is that they were wrong. 

It was also brought up that the book of Psalms says about the same things and so why do we quote and pray the Psalms and not Job?

The conclusion I got was that what the three friends said wasn’t entirely wrong, though at times they were depending on context, but that their version of the truth was not complete. 

Their basis was in the retribution theology, with no understanding or knowledge of the grace of God, that God can forgive through the work of his Son even if we are the greatest of sinners. 

So in reflection, if we look at the book of Job, Psalms and the New Testament chronologically, Job was at the outset of the revelation of God, and so they only knew so much. 

Moving onto Psalms, the psalters knew more from further revelation from the prophets of the time, and by the time we get to the New Testament, God was revealed perfectly in the person and work of Jesus, his Son. 

But even that is not fully revealed to us yet. We will definitely see a fuller picture the day we come to see our Lord face to face. 

And with that, what can we learn from Job’s three friends?

For me it’s this: we only know so much and so we should not behave like we know it all, even though we are confident in the truth that we have come to believe. (This may swerve us to the other side of the pole where all truth is relative and this is not desireable. But this another story altogether.)

Therefore when we counsel someone or when we are with someone who is suffering a great pain, watch what we say, or say nothing at all but just be there with them. Our presence would serve as a better albeit inadequate comfort. 


Friday, November 24, 2017

When you need an Excel formula or a process map

I find myself in a time where when I want something done or if I need a solution to a work requirement, it is almost always available. 

That said, the things I usually need done aren’t so complicated at all - an Excel formula, a business model, data and information or a process map - and there is always something useful I can pick up from the Internet or AppStore. 

When I need a complicated Excel formula, I would write a post in this Excel forum, which is still very active, with the problem and solution I needed, and more often than not in less than half an hour, someone would respond with a formula. 

When I need an easier way to draw a process map without having to spend so much time drawing boxes and arrows in PowerPoint, I found Q FlowChart a free iOS iPad app where I can draw process maps with just my finger. I created a simple process map in less in 5 minutes, saved in jpeg and exported it over for use. 

We live in a world where tools are always available. We are very industrious and innovative. When there is a need and there is a way, it will be made. 


Thursday, November 23, 2017

These Chinese words are driving me crazy

I have these words in my Mandarin HSK deck where I get terribly confused when I get them. They all look alike and when I am tired, I will almost always get them all mixed up. 

苹果 菜单 
开始 并且 
打扰 讨论
结束 结果 结婚
生活 生命 生病 
生意 注意 主意 愿意 
意见 意思 
休息 消息 信息

I hope by grouping them like this would help. And this list here will surely grow and grow to a larger and larger set as I move along in my HSK deck.   


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

They have retired Plants vs. Zombies

Sniff sniff. They killed my all-time favourite game app Plants vs. Zombies. 

I have blogged it before - that I have been playing and I am still playing Plants vs. Zombies for the past 7 years. 

They did launch the newer Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time in 2013 but it never grew on me. I played it halfway and soon had it removed from my devices. 

And as you have it, IGN published this article yesterday - Update: Plants vs. Zombies Creator’s EA Departure Clarified

Apparently, Plants vs. Zombies’s creator George Fan was fired because he objected to the newer version’s pay-to-win model, which I wasn’t keen on as well. Why should I pay to win?

It was reported that “when EA proposed its sequel - Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time - has a pay-to-win model that supports in-app purchasing, Fan pushed back. He's like "I dunno, that's not really a good idea and I don't want to do that with my game."”

And now the original game is being retired and removed from the Apple Store. They did relaunch a free version of it but I think it takes to a pay-to-win model as well. I have just started playing it and so far I have been watching endless and irritating ad videos in between games. 

And I just brought up the subject of lifetime purchases for devices with my colleague and this is a case in point where lifetime is not forever. 


Monday, November 20, 2017

Why incompetent people think they are amazing?

I was having a team meeting when my colleague said it is frustrating engaging with people who do not realize how incompetent they are. And this reminded me of an article I just read a couple of days ago: Why Incompetent People Think They Are Amazing?

This 5-minute video explains why some of us overestimate our capabilities and some even underestimate it. How is it that when we’re unskilled, we can’t see our own faults, and when we’re exceptionally competent, we don’t perceive how unusual our abilities are?

My takeaway from this is to ask for feedback even if it is hard to hear, and there is just this one thing which has been bugging my mind for the last couple of weeks. I need to gather up the courage to ask for feedback already. 


Sunday, November 19, 2017

One of my compulsive disorder

I think I have this compulsive disorder to maximize storage space, in my iPhone and iPad. 

I have a 64G iPhone and it freaks me up if I have used up more than half of the 64G space. 

Okay. I’m exaggerating. I won’t freak out but I tend to prefer to have lots of spare space. I just don’t know why. When you have it use it, right? 

I spent a big part of my day today cleaning up my iPhone, deleting apps, photos, content and messages. 

And I had to give up and delete messages that I’d prefer to keep but iMessages do not have an function to export messages like WhatsApp does. 

And I deleted more than 800MB(!!!) worth of space in just two string of messages with my husband and son. I must have kept it since day one when I started using the iPhone.

I removed the Facebook app too. It’s very data and space hungry. 

How have our lives been reduced to data and storage space? Cloud storage is another story. I am not paying for cloud space yet, but I think I will soon have to. 


Friday, November 17, 2017

Money Back Guarantee

I never knew about the story of MBG until my boss told me about and I always thought and also seen that the price of fruits in MBG is usually higher than the supermarkets, until today. 

My colleague has been frequenting the outlet in our office building for awhile now and I followed him there today. 

And to my surprise, they were selling Forelle pears that are larger and 50 sen cheaper than what I have bought in the supermarket a couple of days ago. 

Well, looks like I will be going again soon. 


Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Golden Pockets of Time

I was scheduled to attend a meeting with the bosses today at 4:30pm. I got prepared, walked over to the venue and waited to be called in. 

And I waited for one whole hour before I went in. 

And what did I do during the hour? Fret? Complain? Got annoyed?

Nope. I did none of those. 

As much as I did not pick up some work to do, since I am not sure when I will be called in and I didn't really want to get into the zone and get lost and lose focus on the stuff  I'm suppose to present to the bosses, I opened my Kindle and started reading. 

And it was a good solid one hour of reading about Praying Backwards by Bryan Chapell. 

These times are hard to come by, but it's the golden pockets of time that I get to do some stuff of value. 

We always tell ourselves we don't have time. 

Why don't you read?
No time. 

Why don't you exercise?
No time. 

Why don't you learn something?
No time. 

But deep down we know that time is not the main reason why we don't those things we know that are good for us, things that take a lot of effort and time. 

It all boils down to our intention, our purpose and what we want out of our lives. 

And we need make time for it. 


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What is Expository Preaching by Bryan Chapell

A friend asked me what expository preaching is and I thought she deserved a more complete and authorized explanation. So I went looking for resources and found this more than an excellent explanation of what expository preaching is by Bryan Chapell. 


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Sad Child by Margaret Atwood

You're sad because you're sad. 

It's psychic. It's the age. It's chemical. 

Go see a shrink or take a pill, 

or hug your sadness like an eyeless doll 

you need to sleep. 

Well, all children are sad 

but some get over it. 

Count your blessings. Better than that, 

buy a hat. Buy a coat or pet. 

Take up dancing to forget. 

Forget what? 

Your sadness, your shadow, 

whatever it was that was done to you 

the day of the lawn party 

when you came inside flushed with the sun, 

your mouth sulky with sugar, 

in your new dress with the ribbon 

and the ice-cream smear, 

and said to yourself in the bathroom, 

I am not the favorite child. 

My darling, when it comes 

right down to it 

and the light fails and the fog rolls in 

and you're trapped in your overturned body 

under a blanket or burning car, 

and the red flame is seeping out of you 

and igniting the tarmac beside your head 

or else the floor, or else the pillow, 

none of us is; 

or else we all are.
~ Margaret Atwood


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Am I wasting time learning a new language?

I spent the whole afternoon revising my language flashcards and I suddenly found myself asking this pertinent question: am I wasting time learning a language I will never master or use?

I know I have been very fervent about languages lately and I have been learning Mandarin for the last eight months and Korean for the last eleven. I would spend at least 30 minutes a day initially but as I move on to more complicated parts of the languages, I am now taking at least an hour or two every day to complete the flashcards. 

That is a lot of time on a daily basis, and so I do wonder now if I am wasting my time.

I am quite happy that I am progressing well with my Mandarin, compared to the times when I struggle so hard to learn it but never got beyond just knowing a few common characters. But I still could not think or speak freely in Mandarin, and I still find reading anything in that language difficult. For example, when I had dinner with my mother-in-law yesterday evening, I was helping her with her iPhone settings. But I could not make out what was what when Chinese was the default language. 

More so with Korean. I can now say and write really simple sentences but what on earth am I going to use it for?

The one reason I will not be stopping though is because I already invested so much time in them. 

And my current take on it is this: Chinese is suppose to be my so-called mother-tongue and with it being so widely spoken here, I shall persevere on with it. 

As for Korean, I shall take it as a hobby and what more, I am making really good friends with several Korean language partners and so I’m sticking on with it, for now. 

And I’ll never know, something good may come out of in the future. 


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Some reflections about praying and being with God

I admit don’t pray very well. 

I am okay when I have my own private prayers because I will just speak my mind without much thought about structure or form. I wouldn’t think of what I should say, I will just speak my mind and from the heart, sometimes casual and sometimes formal. 

But when I pray in public or when I attend prayer meetings, I get quite stressed up as I don’t usually know what to say. I do know what to pray for, especially since it’s a prayer request. I just don’t know how to pray it. 

I also hold the view that we do not treat prayer like a wishing well, asking only for things we want, or reminding God to keep his promises, as if he needs any reminding. 

So to the very core of it, I do not really understand prayer. To me, God already knows what’s best and will give us his best, whether in a form of a blessing or discipline, he knows what is best for us. 

So then, why and what do I pray? 

I pray because it’s commanded by God and so I do it. But what do I pray about. I am not exactly sure and so other than taking on how Jesus taught us to pray, I would just speak my mind and my heart.

I also began to see what books I have on prayer and found I this in my stash. 

Praying Backwards, Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name
by Bryan Chapell

I have just started reading it and I like it. I do not want to rush through it and thought I’d read it bit by bit to learn and practice as I go. 

Here are some gems so far from the Introduction and first portion of the first chapter:

When we pray “in Jesus’ name,” we pray for his sake more than our own. We still present our desires and concerns to God, but we do so in the context of yielding our priorities to Christ’s priorities.

In this fallen world you cannot avoid suffering; you can have peace in the midst of it. You cannot avoid trials; you can have confidence of their purpose. You cannot bind God by your prayers; you can guarantee his blessing. You cannot direct the will of God; you can pray according to his will and rest in the assurance of his love. You can pray knowing that God will marshal the powers of heaven to accomplish on earth all he knows is best for your eternity. Praying in Jesus’ name is the key.

We approach the throne of grace without the burden of our sin and with the righteousness of our Savior. We ask for his blessing based on God’s wisdom, not ours. We trust in his faithfulness, not in the adequacy of our faith.

I especially like what Chapell says here: We trust in his faithfulness, not in the adequacy of our faith. 

I always berate myself for not praying enough, for not reading his Word enough, for not keeping close to God enough, and I realized I have been depending a lot on what I have done or not done to keep this relationship with God, when at the end of it all, it is God himself who first sought me, and who first call to fellowship and commune with me. 

So the next time when I am reminded to pray or read the Bible or just to be in his presence, I must not do it in guilt that I have not done enough, but to simply be there with the ever-present Emmanuel, God who is with us, who is with me. 


Thursday, November 09, 2017

I’m mixing up all my days

I am getting old - not only am I using a pill organizer like what you see above - I am also mixing all my days up. 

On Tuesday, I thought it was Wednesday and when I took the pills from the Wednesday slot, I told myself oh no, I forgot my medication yesterday. 

On Thursday, it became clear that it is not a Friday and when I looked at the Thursday slot, I asked myself, where did my pills go?

Oh dear...


Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Back-to-back meetings do not work

I had a serious string of back-to-back meetings this afternoon: from 2:00 to 4:00 with a vendor, 4:00 to 5:30 with a working committee, and 5:30 to 6:30 with my boss and HR team. 

I don’t think I have had such an arrangement before and I can conclude now that it doesn’t work. 

I was running from one room to the other without any time to reflect or collect my thoughts. 

And more than that, I had to stop the first and second meeting prematurely to attend the next one, after which by the end of the day, I was so terribly tired. 

I will not do this again. 


Tuesday, November 07, 2017

How much does your music streaming contribute to the earnings of your favourite artistes?

I have been enjoying music streaming for a year now through Apple Music and I started to wonder today how do artistes make a living these days. How do the replay and the many, many times that I listen to their music contribute to their income?

Gone were the days when they can really earn by selling copies of their albums or CDs. But most people do streaming these days, or worse, illegally download bootleg copies of music without paying.

So how do they make money to survive?

I googled it and found this very interesting infographics from Information is Beautiful (what an interesting sounding site, I shall be checking them out more soon). Do go check it out in the website since it’s not so clear here. 

But we can see, as pointed out by YourEDM that:

Highest revenue per play
1st: Napster / $0.0167 per play 
2nd: TIDAL / $0.0110 per play 
3rd: Apple Music / $0.0064 per play 
4th: Google Play / $0.0059 per play 
5th: Deezer / $0.0056 per play 
6th: Spotify / $0.0038 per play 
7th: Pandora / $0.0011 per play 
8th: YouTube / $0.0006 per play  

To reach minimum wage of $1260
Napster / 90,000 plays 
TIDAL / 130,000 plays 
Apple Music / 230,000 plays (this will take me more than 2 years of continuous non-stop listening!)
Google Play Music / 250,000 plays
Deezer / 260,000 plays 
Spotify / 380,000 plays 
Pandora / 1.2 million plays 
YouTube / 2.4 million plays

And according to this article, buying CDs from the store may no longer be the best way for artistes to earn. What is best these days could well be buying downloads or CDs directly from their websites.

And for me who always would vie for the underdogs, what I could do is to stream their music as much as I can, as far as my data package and phone battery(!!!) will allow me.

Music has come a long way but it may not have caught up yet to the digital world of business. 


Monday, November 06, 2017

Driver for the day

It has been awhile since I have done it but I ended up as my son's full-time driver for one day, which I was glad to be, for the time spent. 


Sunday, November 05, 2017

A streak of good movies until today

I was looking at the list of movies I watched lately and thought how nice it was to have watched a long streak of really good movies, until today. 


Saturday, November 04, 2017

When old friends meet

I caught up with some old friends today, whom I have not seen for 30 over years! It was lovely to catch up after so, so, so many years. 

We spent two hours having lunch and yakking, reminiscing and updating each other. 

We did everything that people who meet up for reunions do except for one thing, take pictures! We were so engrossed in our conversation that all four of us simply forgot. 

Looks like we need to meet up again. 


Friday, November 03, 2017

Thor, Ragnarok ★★★★★

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

It's our time-out again, for my good friend Wee Yin and I, and we went to watch Thor: Ragnarok

I have not been following much on what's in the cinemas and just found out that Thor is on and when Wee Yin asked me, I was game. 

I liked it. It was quite fun to watch. 

However, I did wonder if Thor can break the chains that was wrapped around him and summon his hammer when he was on a one-on-one with Surtur, why didn't he do that when he was locked in a cage. 

I loved the skits with Doctor Strange and Hulk, especially when I adore both Mark Ruffalo and Benedict Cumberbatch. 

I only found Jeff Goldblum a tad irritating. But it's his character, which he played it extremely well. He'll crawl under your skin and just be careful of his Melting Stick. 


Thursday, November 02, 2017

I finally watched the movie version: Room (2015) ★★★★★

I read Room by Emma Donoghue back in 2014 and was so captivated with it that I set my mind to watch the movie version when I found out that it will be made into one. 

But I had forgotten about it and only watched it today, and it was just as awesome. 

Room (2015)

I am not going to give any spoilers because this movie is a must-watch as much as the book is a must-read. 

What I can say is that it is about a mother and her five-year old son who were incarcerated in a room, hence the title. And it's about the bond of love between mother and child, and family, about acceptance, and healing. 

Life can be tough. 


Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Still no TV...yet

I have just completed one month of fasting TV. And I have not gone back to watching anything, yet. 

Maybe my system is getting used to no TV?

I did expect that I will go back to TV with a vengeance but it didn't happen, at least not yet. 

But it's only the first day!