Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Notepad Scribbles #20061220

Back on the injured list...again. After coming back from one injury, I get slapped with another. It's like hitting a string of red lights in succession - it makes me just want to use up my entire expletives vocabulary. So frustrating.

However, in some indirect way, it has been good. One of the few things which made it to my list was to not play video games as much and limit myself to only playing after the sun has set (thereby allowing me to better utilise the hours in the day). Although I get sad looks from my PS2 and can swear that it is beckoning to me in a little voice , I have abstained from it and not played for almost a week. I now know what Frodo and Gollum must have been going through. Ok, maybe not - but close...

This has definitely left me some time to do other things:
  • Enjoying the cinemas:
    • Casino Royale
      • Definitely an interesting Bond with the set up of his character and good action. Personally, I liked the omission of Q, as it introduces a slightly more human side to Bond's abilities, rather than relying on gadgets. Love the intro sequence with the suits of the card as well as the construction site chase (awesome hops and agility). Gripe of the movie has to be the gratuitous pouty moments for Daniel Craig. And body shots. Bloody show-off.
    • The Prestige
      • Twisty plot and out-of-chronological-order scenes make for some thinking in this movie. Definitely adhere to the recommended, "Don't drink and watch". Due to an already slow mind being dragged down by some alcohol, my mind was still digesting the contents of the movie. Gripe of the movie had to be Scarlett Johansson for lacking conviction.
    • As an aside, I am pleased with the restaurant review sites out there. It is good to see other people's opinions - especially the average customers, and not the expert reviewers. I have to admit I am a big fan of online research, especially since some sales people are absolutely clueless. I am a big fan of sales assistants who acutally know something and give a damn about serving their customers. Biggest gripe is the new sydney.citysearch site which is running so slow now. The search criteria for restaurants is terrible and inconsistent between pages. I think it is trying too hard to do too much.
  • Christmas shopping - No stock. Nothing good. People everywhere. Parking. Driving. Thank goodness I am all sorted there now!
  • BBQs and catchups- with the summer days (occasionally) here, it has been good to have BBQs and getting myself a bit of a tan after being pasty white on my return from Singapore. Unfortunately, some of them where marked with hint of sadness as some of my friends have their farewells. However, all was good and it was great to see people I had not seen in years. One of the most relaxing had to be travelling past Camden to a relatively large block of land. It was so quiet and serene out there, it was such a stark contrast to the hustle and close proximity living I am familiar with. Sure, convenience is not the best, with owning a car being mandatory for almost any practical means (unless one believes in subsistence living). Makes me want to have a holiday home some place out of Sydney. Some day I will have my dream escapism....
  • Getting motivated. If ever I needed inspiration, it would have to come from The Biggest Loser. Typically, I am not one to watch a lot of reality shows, but the transformation of some of these people is absolutely astounding. Watching the finale and seeing people lose more than 50% of their body weight is shocking. I was very happy for the winner who shed around 54% of his weight because he wanted to be there for his kids. That has to rate up there with regards to motivation.

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Order in the house

The last few months have been rather interesting living. It is almost as though I have been living without rules - no need to wake up at a set time; random naps during the day; playing games all day long; staying out till late. Unfortunately, coupled with a person like me who lacks discipline and likes to take things to extreme, this has led to a lifestyle of sports, playing games till 4am in the morning, surfing the Net and resting in between (supplemented with my customary afternoon nap).

If everyone did what they wanted without any regard for others, the world would be utter chaos and shambles. However, whereever I look, there seems to be some form of order which exists . Many of us seek order and certainty - or feel lost without it. From the way that roads are built (ok, maybe except for the roadworks around the Lane Cove tunnel), the buildings that are around, to the way people interact at work Companies and projects are like large magnets which align all their staff, pointing them in a particular direction in order to meet the objectives. Furthermore, there is something much more physically appeasing in a clean and orderly room, than a messy one.

However, I realised that this lifestyle is entirely unstructured - and I am "winging it" with no real aim or end goal. I have no concrete objectives over this period of time which has been leading down a spiral of pure indulgence. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but perhaps deep down, I watch the world go by and sense that everything is progressing but I seem to have stood still. Yet as much as I would love to treasure this moment, I know that it cannot last forever. Cliched, but true - blame my poor vocabulary.

Maybe I am more left brained than others, but in a way, I think rules are a good thing as it keeps things orderly and injects certainty. It helps instill discipline in those without (e.g. me). Waking up at noon is great, but I just realised that I did nothing for the entire morning.

Having no objectives and no goals has been great and lots of fun, but having a loose framework of objectives is starting to make me feel rather edgy as it is not something I know I can do for long. Maybe I am not looking forward to retirement after all and that I feel I need to be active or doing something all the time. I guess I should just enjoy it while it lasts, eh?

In any case, in order to help me get over this, I will start to write a list of all the things I want to do, before I finish my six months of leave (ok - I have already used up 2 of those months). Hopefully, I can tick off each of those as little objectives I want to achieve. Now I just need to motivate myself to actually think about and write those objectives down!

Thursday, 7 December 2006

Being in The Game

I would not classify myself an avid reader of novels. I was never that person in school who would max out their limit at the library with novels. I didn't know the librarian by her name. During schooling years my reading was limited to required texts, crib notes on the required texts I was studying and exam papers. Fast forward to today and I have probably read no more than a handful of novels since receiving my HSC, or university degree for that matter.

A few days ago, my sister dumped a book down as I was playing a video game.
"This book is funny," she said casually, a little grin spreading across her face. I was slightly annoyed at being interrupted during my gaming time - the whole men and multi-tasking thing is true.
"It's about picking up," I heard her say.
Somehere in the deep recesses of my mind it registered what she was saying. Book. Picking up. Hmm...

So it was thus that I first had Neil Strauss's The Game in my hands.

**Warning - some spoilers ahead**

The author, an average frustrated chump (AFC), infiltrates the world of pick up artists (PUA) as an assignment. He is promptly thrust into an entirely different culture, propped up with their own jargon (a glossary is provided as well). One of the main selling points of the novel is that a majority of males fall into the AFC category. Being a self classified AFC (well, I definitely aint' a PUA), I could almost immediately relate to him as well as his feelings. Honestly now, who wouldn't want to be the guy who gets the girl? Who wouldn't want to be the hero at the bar/club/restaurant etc who can chat up the girls? There is almost instant hero status once this is achieved (at least among AFCs). Unfortunately, powering through video games at a crazy rate does not get anywhere near to earning such respect, so I guess my hours have been wasted! The fear of rejection is enough to make a some men man jump into a cage full of lions rather than receive an outright rejection. Therefore, given the opportunity, hordes of AFCs wanted to learn how to become a PUA.

The transformation of Neil is amusing - from the jealousy of his friend who could pull girls, to becoming a guru in the pick up game. The process in which this is learnt is rather startling though. Funnily enough the systematic breakdown of the techniques allowed me to think back to my much younger years, and realised that some of my friends were actually using those techniques! I was secretly wondering whether they had done it consciously after reading some book, or whether they did it subconsciously as a natural alpha male. I knew that I should have studied pyschlogy!

However, the dissection of human nature, mannerisms, hypnosis, NLP followed by the industrialisation of the material available made it a rather stoic process. It was like going through the motions and having a response to every resistance a girl could throw at them. However, I feel that this redraws the border of manipulative seduction and actually dehumanises the chasing process - expecially since I love the build up and the chase.

I am an advocate of the fact that everyone who reads the same text will take away something slightly different based on their past experiences. A main theme for me was the point of social validation. The PUAs were being validated through their success with the girls. In order to get to their targets, they needed to be socially validated by the target's friends as well as their own. I guess deep down, everyone does to some extent. A classic example is if someone gives another a compliment. Sure one may not necessarily be seeking it, but I know it feels good when someone gives me a compliment. Not many people like feeling like an outcast - even if one is not necessarily mainstream per se, they would tend to gravitate to those who most similar to themselves.

Another point to note was that the techniques being used were more or less attracting a certain type of person, and sometimes, they did get blown off. The question for the AFC would be why are they learning those techniques? Is it to get a particular girl? Or get a particular type of girl? I doubt that it would work on too many of the people I know.

Finally, the notion of being emotionally, physically and intellectually drawn in to form a relationship was highlighted. It almost went against the grain for many PUAs (or at least many of the AFCs which became PUAs). From a PUA perspective, too often were the emotional and intellectual elements neglected as they became lost in deploying different "techniques".

All in all, I reckon it was a great entertaining read - and maybe I learnt something from it all (and hopefully not just about picking up).

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Power of M

It started off rather innocently, the leather seat holding me in place. The engine started off sweet enough, but soon turned into a ferocious growl as it ate up the road before us. The wind was playing havoc with my hair but I was almost too busy to notice as we were quickly running out of road. It didn't help that it was dark and the streets were lined with trees, with occasion glimpses of moonlight and dull street lights making their way down to illuminate the road. The chill of the night could be felt throughout the cabin. I felt the gears shift upward as the loud music from the superb speakers competed with the roar of the engine. Barely catching a glimpse of the sign indicating the recommended speed to take the corner, my mind could barely comprehend how fast we were travelling as the car nonchalantly accelerated towards the target. As if by mind control, the car obediently stuck to the road tame as tiger cub. I gave a sideward glance to the driver and watched as he was fully engrossed at the task at hand. I had expected to be thrown around like a ragdoll and had put my hand on the front of the seat, but this was a severe insult to the quality of the seat and soon the confidence of the seat had won me over. Exhilaration after just three tight corners. Other vehicles seemed to frustratingly plod along as there was never enough road to satisfy this one. Although sporty, it had the ability to soak up those chasms called potholes while barely skipping a beat. The build quality was nothing short of excellent and where a feature would sound superfluous on another vehicle, it just seemed so right to have it here. I love the feeling of being surrounded by luxury - mixed with some understated elegance. If anybody needed motivation, this could very well be one of the answers. I now understand what is M-power.

Wednesday, 29 November 2006

Downward trend

When I cut myself or sprained an ankle, it was almost inevitable that it would heal quickly and be bouncing along again on the basketball court. Have to warm up before games? Nope. Bruised from jostling for position? Should heal in a couple of days. Eaten a huge meal? My metabolism will take care of that. Should I would down that dark alley for a short cut? Why not, what could happen to me? Touch wood, I have never had a broken bone but I have had my fair share of scars along the way. Maybe I never really took care of myself all that much.

Back in those days, sleep and rest was the most potent formula for getting back on track. As much as I would love to continue down that familiar path, I have to admit that many recent events have more than made it quite apparent that things have been changing. Subtely, but changing none the less. Those cuts don't quite heal overnight. That injury has been more pronounced or takes a lot more sleeps to get over (my last two injuries have resulted in a combination of nine weeks of inactivity). The back feels sore after three hours of training.

Perhaps these physical changes have subconsciously nudged my mental side to start to take notice. Four days of sport per week has probably been taxing on my body, but I am probably the last to admit that and keep pushing myself that little bit more. There is obviously the denial factor thrown in there to confuse things a fair bit as well.

Sure, it may have been the years of abuse that I had given my body. No, I am not referring to massive amounts of drugs (ok, excluding alcohol, if you want to be pedantic). I am referring to the fact that these are true signs of getting older, or my body trying to hint to me that I need to take more care of my body. Where previously I could stay up all night whilst drinking, I can barely get by days without an afternoon nap. My doctor and a family friend have both noticed my sudden "filling out" around the belly and the face. How depressing...

Maybe this friendly reminder is telling me to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n and pay attention to my own mortality. I think I need to be a more forward looking in my actions. The effects of rash decisions can be disastrous to say the least. It is not a race to the finish line - and I would rather reach the end fit and healthy than bruised and battered. I really should listen to my instincts a little bit more (and perhaps the doctor as well) but I need to take care of it and I guess make sure that I don't cause too much pain for myself. I think it is time to instigate some changes.

I hate sitting around while injured. It is so frustrating. I want to heal faster....I wish I were Wolverine.

Tuesday, 21 November 2006


I always like to learn some practical skills, so I learnt more about my car last week. Scouring through a host of forums and discussion groups, it's an enlightening experience to see that so many people know so much about their cars! It was an eye opener as some were discussing changing brake pads themselves as well as bleeding their car's brakes and changing the brake fluid. I managed to check my brake fluid and brake pads and reckon that that the brake fluid needs replacing on the next service. I dare not perform the brake bleeding myself in fear of the a-little-knowledge-can-be-dangerous well as the fact that most amateurs shouldn't meddle with their brakes (maybe I watch too many movies, but visions of brakes which don't work and veering through traffic and off a cliff just seem to come to mind). In the end I noticed that my front tyres were pretty worn and the back tyres had plenty of tread, so I rotated the backs tyres with the front tyres....and yes, of course I have washed the car.

Due to series of complaints I have received that my shorts are, well, too short and tight (due to lack of activity no doubt), I decided that I needed some new shorts (for basketball and indoor soccer). On a recent chaffeuring activity to Spotlight, I found some sports mesh material. Feeling spontaneously creative, I decided to make a pair of basketball shorts.
"Are you sure?" asked my mum, with a half raised eyebrow.
"Yeah. It should be fun and I can learn how to sew," I replied full of enthusiasm.
"Why do you want to learn to sew? Don't you want to do something woodwork or something?" she asked - almost half serious.
"Ok, so it is not the most stereotypical male activity, but one can have too many shelves and cupboards, but can always do with some extra clothes".
Still sceptical, she helped me draw a pattern from a large pair of basketball shorts. Yesterday, I spent a long time making them (or should I say, undoing my mistakes and re-doing them). Ok, I admit I had some help on the waist section which required the elastic and help redoing a bit of the pocket, but managed to finish it. Unfortunately, I was a little rough around the hem line as I got a little pedal happy towards the end. I do want to try to make one with as little help as possible. Anyway, so here it is - the finished product:

In a recent spate of nostalgia (probably after cleaning out my old room), I whipped out some old NBA games which I had watched some 10 years ago - when the Bulls were still the reigning champions and in favour. I noticed that I appreciate the plays and the individual's skill levels much more now that I had ever before (and considering that most of the team were older than 30). Maybe it is a sudden realisation that I am getting older and more injury prone (not to mention larger - ok, fatter - hence the need for larger pants).
On a separate note, listening to the commentators/judges (e.g. sports/Oz Idol/Think You Can Dance), some comments are harsh while others more diplomatic/euphemistic in their comments. Here are some examples:
"He is a defensive specialist" - translates to "He can't score".
"You look great" - translated to "You can't sing/dance all too well".

Ok, maybe I am overanalysing or maybe I am the one who is harsh. But I wonder whether people should accept the hard truth, as much as it may hurt, or should they be wrap in warm and fuzzy words just to make the recipient feel better. I sometimes coat some honey around the bitter pill of truth to make it easier to swallow, but other times I can be rather harsh (e.g. bball court). I can take constructive criticism - I guess don't take offense unless offense was meant.

Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Just Chilling

To be honest, the last three weeks have been absolutely awesome. Not having to worry about a thing in the world and soaking up Sydney life doing the things which I want to do - such as playing sports and video games.

In terms of sports, I am finally seeing my fitness return. Now I just want to play better and get those skills back!

On the gaming front, finally finished Vice City. It was long but the missions were fun - especially taking over businesses. Only finished the story missions and only completed 48% of the game!??
MGS3: Snake Eater is definitely cinematic and had a good story. It ties in with some of the other MGS games. Favourite characters had to be EVA and Ocelot....very nicely done. One of the good features of finishing the game is that the cut scenes are all accessible to be viewed at any time, so can watch it all again, without having to play through it. In a touch of nostalgia also played some SNES and original Nintendo games. I am bad at Mario Kart, NBA Jam brought back good memories and who can forget Super Mario Bros 3??? It's funny how one remembers things from around ten years ago - all the secrets and the different moves in the different worlds. I have to say that I do lack a bit of co-ordination when it comes to those good ol' platform games.

In other news, I am definitely excited about the longer summer days which are just around the corner. Apart from the stuffiness of playing indoor sports, it will definitely be a relaxing summer.

After four years of living in this place, I have decided to get a mirror for my bathroom and put up some towel racks. It was definitely a positive improvement as this means I don't need to go to other bathrooms to put in contacts and I can see how I look like before I leave my room. After drilling for three consecutive days and using up around five drill bits, I managed to put up a measly four mirrors and two towel racks. Do not underestimate the difficulty in drilling into porcelain tiles (which need to be treating softly). Only in my bathroom did the tile have a hairline crack. I don't think I am cut out for performing renovations, but it was definitely a fun experience to finally free up some space. I did learn a thing or two and I also managed to check out some of the wares at Bunnings and Mitre 10. Very interesting learning experience. I am thinking about what my next project will be.

There is something very satisfying when completing something one sets out to do. The sense of accomplishment and achievement is rewarding in different ways - like all that hard work was worth it.

With the entire online video phenomena there definitely have been some interesting posting on the internet. Call it sheer boredom or random surfing, but there is a mixed bag of stuff out there which I have managed to stumble across. Two interesting points were the Dove commerical (touching up can do wonders - I love those computer editing techniques as well) and the Stephon Marbury $15 shoes (great concept as well). Now, even news bulletins are coming at us over the web. Once streaming technology improves as well as penetration for broadband internet is higher, there should be even more videos out there. It is definitely more accessible as well as people at work take that 5min breather to watch a video here and there.

Monday, 16 October 2006

1996 Lindemans Pyrus

This was purchased on my trip to the Hunter Valley a couple of years back. I was pretty much fresh out of uni and we had gone up and stayed in a little cabin in Polkolbin. It was a little weekend retreat and drove up there in a couple of cars. We had stopped at a number of wineries, but at the Lindeman's cellar we tried a number of wines and this one had easily topped our list. I believe that almost every one of us had bought a bottle of this one. Perhaps at that stage, I was a cheap drunk so paying a premium on this wine was definitely a big deal. The irony of the purchase was that it was a Coonawara wine!

I enjoyed the fact that it was a varietal blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and malbec so it made smooth as well as being medium to full bodied wine so it was quite nice.

It had sat at my place for a number of years and I had never really cellared in a "proper" environment. I have since purchased a number of different vintages - from 1995 to 1999.

My father had wanted to buy this a number of times, but had been disappointed by the sales person selling an entire 12 cases to someone else. Last year on my trip back to the Hunter Valley, I managed to get another three bottles of magnums.

Over the years, I guess I have grown out of the $5 "special" cask wines (as they were a sorry excuse to drink - but I did hear that red wine has a lot of anti-oxidants, so who said it was bad?) Not by any stretch of the imagination am I a connosieur, but I guess I just want to try different types of wine so that I can fully appreciate the variety of wines available.

So I decided to celebrate and open the bottle this year and see how well it had survived its nine years. Unfortunately, I didn't give it enough time to breathe and settle before the first glasses were poured, but luckily dinner was longer so it opened up and was rather smooth.

Dinner was a scrumptous meal of oysters au naturale as entree, lamb cutlets with garden and potato salads, followed by lemon cheesecake. My stomach is growling just thinking about it!

It was definitely good to be able to spend my birthday surrounded by my friends and family this year and just being able to relax. Sure I had to go into work the next day. Sure I had been working late up until that point. But it was worth it.

I even managed to use my new wine glasses! (I swear I am not an alcoholic!).

Anyway, my birthday haul is below (except a lovely dinner I had at est):

In any case, it was great drinking that bottle and knowing that it kept well. My rating would be a 93/100. Ok, so it not anywhere near the Grange territory, but at least I loved it. Often the company and the occasion make a wine memorable.

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

A long time coming...

I know that I have copped a fair bit of flack from certain individuals with regards to a long talked about topic for me: cars. In a similar vein to most hot blooded males, I turn my head when a Ferrari goes by. Or a Porsche. Or a Lamborghini. Or a Mercedes SL.... but I digress.

So it is no surprise that after many years of talk, many verbal jabs (some even coming from my father), as well as having big hopes of being in Australia for more than six months, I decided to take the plunge into the shady realm of buying a vehicle. No, not a push bike, but a petrol powered little guy. Learning about the dynamics of purchasing a vehicle privately was definitely a great experience as well as partly a nightmare. I think that tonight will be my first good night of sleep!

The reality of the vehicle being a massive financial drain is starting to, the purchase, bank cheques, registration, petrol, dealing with people.....what have I gotten myself into??? But as some put it - a vehicle is typically one's second biggest asset after their own home. Oh well, what the heck - might as well live a little right?

Anyway, here is a pic of my latest purchase:

I chose this car because it has a rather enthusiastic engine and is really the first car which jumped out at me and almost begged me to give it a bit more acceleration. The other factors included: less likely to be targetting by police and speed freaks alike, the understated feel of the car as well as the lower ongoing costs than a turbo vehicle. I don't think it is on the major hit list for thieves. Unfortunately, the car was a bit more rare than I would have liked so there were not many examples out there. Looking for one took a rather long time. As I am probably a little too picky, I found faults in many of the cars which I had driven (this one included). However, I settled for this upon realisation that cars have wear and tear and a minor scratch here and there is pretty inevitable. Sometimes, one needs to accept that there is no absolutely perfect example of a second hand vehicle. There is a reason that it is used.

I'll probably also get some new number plates as well, but for the time being, it's time to crank up the Initial D music in the car and get some music action happening. **hehe**. The best part is that I am on holidays now so I get to drive it a lot!

Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Seeking professional help

Over the years, I have been lucky enough to make a variety of friends, many of which come from various backgrounds. Interestingly, many also happen to work in different industries.

However, the question arose as to whether one would in fact rely on that person's expertise - thereby crossing the fine line of friendship and mixing some business in there as well.

Almost all agreed that the person's personality, degree of closeness and industry all play a major part in determining whether one would seek out a friend and be a client. None, however were based on trust of the other person, or whether they were the best in the business - it was merely the fact that they would feel uncomfortable disclosing that information to someone in that capacity.

"Ok, gents, so surely you would not recommend your mother, sister, partner to a friend who was a (male) gynacologist, right". Almost everyone nodded in agreement before turning out a sour face once the full impact of that statement hit home.

"How about tax consultants?"
"I somehow am uncomfortable revealing just how much I (don't) earn to some of my friends".

"Not sure if I could turn to my friend and say very candidly, 'Mate, I seem to have a bad case of haemerroids. Do you mind checking it out for me?' Somehow, I am not sure that my friend, or I would be able to have lunch again."

"Diagnosing a friend with a terminal illness would definitely be a downer."

"How about builders?"
"Nah - when the building is delayed, it may not be the fault of the builder if the tradespeople don't turn up. When money is involved can it be so clear cut?"

"IT Guys - they ALWAYS get asked about why a friend's computer is not working. Which, by the way, is a stereotype."

"Lawyers? If you did commit a crime, would you admit it to a friend?"

Would it matter whether you started off friends and then moved to have a professional relationship versus building a professional relationship and then becoming friends as a result?

So what about referrals? Does that make it any better? Not entirely sure, since one's reputation is on the line upon a referral - so them being good, bad or even ethical is really based upon the powers of your referral.

This begs the question, how does one go about networking if starting out friends results in a non-professional relationship? The skill of one's friends was not brought into question however, and certainly no disrespect to all the professionals out there, however, the consensus view appeared to be how personal the act was and therefore whether one was comfortable in sharing.

Overshare anyone?

Tuesday, 19 September 2006

Spring Cleaning

“Oh my gosh!” I exclaimed, picking up a tattered piece of paper as though I had found a secret treasure map worth billions of dollars.
“What is it?”
“My Year 7 German exam,” I replied, still in disbelief that I had kept it.

So a day was spent cleaning up after I had moved. Admittedly, I have moved for over four years, but being away from home for most of that time had left little time to do so. The fact that I am a big proponent of procrastination didn’t help either.

There was the inevitable flood of memories as I walked into my old place – the smells, the sites, my old room – and I realised how far I had come from living there and where I live now. I can know visualise why we moved and the positives from the change.

Looking at my room, it was still quite full of things I had accumulated over a healthy twenty odd years living there. Just before moving, I did not spend too much time there apart from sleeping, since most of my time over weekends was spent involved in constructing the new family home. There were boardgames, video games, pens, textas, coins, old gadgets (incl. my very first walkman!), old newspaper clippings, over 10 packets of tissues, expired medication….I had forgotten that I had a that much stuff there!

My reluctance to discard any of these objects was met with harsh resistance.

Why do you need that?” my designated helper said with more than a slight hint of exasperation for the umpteenth time. The excuses ranged from great memories to it being virtually irreplaceable. Of course I could hardly argue with the retorts along the lines of:

“It has sat here for the last four years and you never missed it”
“Are you really going to use that again?”
“You have no space for that.”
“You are a hoarder” – whoa! That was a personal attack!

I was resigned to the fact that I was not going to get anything cleaned up without getting rid of some of the clutter. Also, I did not have the luxury of space in the new place to migrate all the old stuff with my new stuff. So out came the rubbish bags as a filled them up one by one. I could almost feel a collective sigh as I knew I would never see some of these ever again.

I had definitely hoarded a lot of stuff over the years and to be honest, the more I looked at it, the more I felt that it represented a past which felt like a lifetime away. There was definitely a wealth of memories which bobbed to the surface during that day of cleaning. In the end though, I realised that things which I thought were important in the past may not be so important now. In a way, I have moved on from my life of living in that other house and have progressed to where I am now – and I am thankful. Sure each had pros and cons – but by having that basis for comparison, I can now appreciate what I had back then, and what I have now.

Just like any statistical analysis, with more data points there typically comes better information. Without changes or variations, it is hard to really evaluate one's situation. In any case, I think it is time to continue my spring cleaning and see how I can reduce all the clutter and peripheral items and focus on those areas which deserve (and demand) my attention. Or perhaps more data points are needed to create a baseline for comparison. Back to the spring cleaning!

Thursday, 17 August 2006

Melbourne Memoirs

Melbourne has always been quite special for me in that I lived there for almost two years and I had heaps of fun there (not to mention many nights of drinking). However, I had not been there for almost two years now and going back made me appreciate the changes and reminded me of that to which I had grown accustomed.

The flight down was very much similar to my standard flight to Melbourne, except I was not rushed to get my flight and I was not used to checking in my luggage.

The first stop after checking into our hotel was to cure some hunger pangs. This was done at the delightful Pellegrini's Expresso Bar whereby the seafood linguine was washed down with some granita. Catching up with a whole host of colleagues, ex-colleagues and friends for drinkns on a Friday night was rounded off with an excellent meal at the great Squire's Loft (whereby we were the last people allowed with no booking). Needless to say, I ate the ribs with some nice juicy rib-eye steak (my mouth is watering now!). I rate this over Kingsleys or Kelly's. The worst part was the walking as I had forgotten which street it was off!

The next day was doing some touristy stuff, so off to St Kilda beach (although rather disappointing) and had a late breakfast. The breakfast was rather nice, and then we ended up at Bridge Road to do some shopping (hey, isn't Melbourne known for being a great place to shop?). Rushing back to drop off the shopping, we headed off to the tram stop where it was absolutely packed. The tram to the Rod Laver arena was groaning under the weight of the people as almost 90% of the people jumped out to head towards the Coldplay concert. The music was pretty good, and surprisingly I knew a lot of the songs (even though I am not a huge fan). Furthermore, the BreadTop green tea buns were great...and helped to fill me up. Very entertaining, although the main gripe would have to be the fact that the concert was very short (1.5hrs for Coldplay).
The weather didn't dampen the spirits so we headed out for some drinks - only the fact that there were too many "private parties" going on.

The weather worsened the next day, but we managed to make it out to Chapel St
and do a bit of shopping. I was eyeing a brown leather jacket but walked away with something totally different in the end! Oh well - that's how shopping goes! For guys, I definitely recommend SOHO workshop - only available in Melbourne with three stores (Melb ourne Central, Chapel St, Bridge St) and the service is quite good too. I might consider an annual pilgrimage to Melbourne to do some shopping. Tired from the shopping, the day ended at Southgate for some dinner. Very relaxing.

The next moring was a flurry of packing and getting ready for a road trip to the Great Ocean Road. Surprisingly, I had never been there (as I flew back to Sydney every weekend). Blitz Cafe, on Little Bourke St, was great value at $6 for breakfast and a coffe. I am not sure where one can get something like that in Sydney (except for maybe IKEA). After getting lost for a bit, we were on our way out there. Another gripe is the cost of eating out - it is pretty expensive (at least compared with Singapore).

Accommodation was cosy and the lobster risotto was top notch at Apollo Bay. After getting informed of a 20km "short cut" (through gravel, umarked roads as well as heavy fog) we managed to get to Beauchamp Falls as well as the Otways Fly Treetop walk.
By some sheer amount of luck as we were driving along we say the Twelve Apostles and stopped there for some more happy snaps.

The drive back was fun as I was pushing it pretty hard to get back to Melbourne so that I could make it for dinner with some friends. That we managed to do as well as have dessert at one of my favourite places.

With that it pretty much concluded the brief trip to Melbourne. However, I cannot conclude this post without a comment on a certain carrier out at Avalon, whereby the tickets are definitely cheap, but the trip out there is L-O-N-G, and the counter check-in service can only be rated as below mediocre (heck budget airlines in the UK are much more organised) and talk about a terminal (or what is more appropriately described as a tin shack). Anyway, I won't mention names, or about an orange **cough**jet**cough** star.

Thursday, 10 August 2006

I'm back

Well, I am finally back. In Sydney. Damn it feels good.

The last two weeks have been bliss, except for that annoying sickness I had pretty much as soon as I got back - the cold weather exacerbating that nasty dry cough.

So the first two weeks have been filled with overdosing myself on my favourite things, namely:
- basketball (fitness is currently rated at zero)
- golf (need to cure that wicked slice)
- mahjong (don't you just love playing with super lucky people)
- videogames (I missed my PS2)
- drinks (I am NEVER doing B151 ever again)
- sleep (I love being warm when it is cold outside....zzzzzzz)

I think that this is the most time I have spent in this house over the course of the year

There is definitely something rather relaxing about being in one's home city - as though that it is a sanctuary. One doesn't feel rushed or pressured to do anything and can easily fall into the lull of just doing very ordinary activities and really enjoying it.

Knowing that most of my friends are around has really helped and seeing how they have welcomed me back is almost as though I had never left. Having been away for so long, there are bound to be things which are not the same or have changed. Just driving around the other day and seeing the subtle differences - that chinese restaurant which had closed and reopend under a different name; the new apartment block that just went up around the corner; the new road which just got opened. I guess it is a matter of getting reaquainted with what I know.

It's rather funny in a way that I had started this blog not long after I had come back from an out of town assignment around two years ago, and here I am writing about coming back to Sydney again. As I am on leave, I have less of an excuse to post...but I am just an inherently lazy individual.


I think I might take a nap now...

In any case, it's good to be home.

Monday, 29 May 2006

The Truth Hurts

In my attempts to catch up on some old movies, I decided to watch a movie 'Basic'. Admittedly, I had not heard anything about the movie and had no expectations whatsoever. Although I stayed up late, it was rather engrossing in the weaving of the different stories.

Without giving too much away, it was rather interesting to see that the underlying principle which the movie relies on is the truth. To get to the bottom of things and to know the truth about an incident is something which seems to be a common thread amongst us. Of course a number of movies previously had used this tactic: 'Primal Fear', 'The Usual Suspects', 'Courage Under Fire'....the list goes on.

So based on this, it appears that there is something in the majority of us which drives us to uncover the truth about the situation, especially when it is concerning us individually. I want to know why something went wrong, what the cause of it was etc.

But all too often we have heard of the saying that the truth hurts. In some circumstances, is it better to lie (or tell a white lie) rather than speak the truth? When is it acceptable or not acceptable? How does one know that lying isn't hurting someone even more?

Personally, I would want someone to tell me the truth. But does that mean someone should pro-offer the truth to if they felt that it was important to me? I think so - if it is negatively affecting me and they mean well. I would want to know no matter how much it hurt me, so that I know and I am not the only one left in the dark. However, I guess some would argue - hey, you didn't ask, so I am not going to say anything.

Sometimes, it is also difficult to discern truth from very subjective comments - which are not necessarily constructive, but can be misconstrued easily. I guess, that is a matter of the delivery.

However, the next question is whether I would extend others the same courtesy. Would it depend on how they take it? Or would it depend on whether our friendship was jeapardised? I guess, I wouldn't want to lose a friend, or have a friend be angry with me (selfish reason, I know), but in the long run, if it is beneficial to them to know - I guess I would do it (but it would be a real tough one). If they were a close friend, then I would most likely do it. But even then it would be hard. Perhaps this is just me and my obsession with the truth.

Monday, 15 May 2006

A little reflection

I have to admit, I am not one to talk a lot about myself. In fact, I would classify myself as being quite conservative and not one to open up easily about feelings and thoughts. However, I am quite conscious of the fact that I cannot easily and objectively judge myself to the full extent I would like. Also, unless I speak with other people, I would not be able to get an insight to myself as well as other people in order to see how other people tick.

Lately, I have been luckily enough to have long chats with some individuals who have been willing to share what they think and their thought processes. In doing so, I am also able to evaluate and compare notes with my own thinking and methods, and therefore see myself in a different way. I am definitely grateful for the opportunity to tap into another's mind, if only but a brief moment, in order to help me get through those areas where I am stuck.

Excited at what I had learnt about myself and/or better ways of doing things, I thought it best to write some of those key thoughts down, so as to not forget.

One is responsible for their own affairs. - including one's own happiness.

Don't expect someone else to make you happy - you are responsible for making yourself happy and do what you want to do or have to do to make yourself happy. Noone else will know what makes you truly happy, and strive towards that goal. Don't feel pressured into doing one thing or another - just do what makes you happy. Do it for yourself first and foremost. Life is too short to be unhappy all the time.

Some people have called me laid back when it comes to dealing with my own affairs, so I guess that's a kind way of saying that I am inherently lazy! Haha. Sadly, it's too true!

2. Take that first step towards your goal

Don't be afraid to take the first step towards making your dreams and what you want to do.
"Try and re-evaluate your position every 6-12mths. Why six and twelve months? Anything less than six months is a distraction as it is constantly in the back of your mind; Anything greater than twelve months means that if you were not getting to where you wanted to, then you would rather not wait more than twelve months to find out".
So if the fit is not there, then one may as well finish up and move onto something which is more sutiable.

3. It should be a win-win situation

This one is quite interesting in that when negotiating, one always wants to win. The ideal situation is where both parties are winning. If one party even feels like they are losing or are getting the raw end of the deal, then that party will soon leave. Unless both parties are winning, it is difficult for either party to justify why they are in that agreement.

4. Know the tradeoffs and sacrifices

Without full knowledge of the tradeoffs and sacrifices, one cannot make an informed decision and weigh up the conflict factors. One should be happy with their choice - given all available information at the time of making that choice. I know that I am very poor at doing this, and this leads to a certain amount of indecisiveness on my part - apologies and kudos to all those who have had to put up with that from me! haha.

So now is a good time to try and figure myself out a little bit more and determine just what it takes to make me tick and work on those points where I feel I need some tweaking.

Anyway, better get back to the "DIY Self Improvement" program. Updates in construction!

Sunday, 30 April 2006

When Harry Met Sally much later

I admit that even though I had previously worked in a video store and had the luxury of free videos, I hadn't watched a lot of movies.

So I decided to start catching up on a few movies which were deemed to be a bit of a must see - one of which was "When Harry Met Sally" (1989). This is one movie I can talk about comfortably without worring about giving spoliers as almost everyone else has seen this! Don't you just love movie dates?

Previously, when I had watched romantics, I never really thought about the subject matter so much and I guess I didn't really relate. However, I believe that one's experiences shape views and therefore cause reactions to incidents which one was previously not aware of - i.e. one's emotions are tied to feelings for someone in that same situation.

The amusing factor was seeing two people who were practically polar opposites being drawn together like some wicked spell. I guess it highlights the fact that the person who you truly are compatible with start out on a platform of friendship and opening up to each other (and how Harry even admitting that he can tell her things which he cannot even tell his best friend).
Throughout the movie, I felt that Harry transforms from some strong headed, opinionated young graduate, through to a more mellow, emotionally oriented person - especially at the pent up feelings he had felt after his divorce. Sally was the "I'm ok" kind of person who was the type to shy away from revealing her true feelings and is more guarded and conservative.

I guess the ending emphasised the fact that ending up with someone is not based on some secret formula and cannot be boxed in neatly into being boxed in based on rules. Sometimes, things dont turn out the way in which one expects.

Marie's earlier line: "All I'm saying is that somewhere out there is the man you are supposed to marry. And if you don't get him first, somebody else will, and you'll have to spend the rest of your life knowing that somebody else is married to your husband " is somewhat reflected in the finale of the film, as one of the most thought provoking and inspiring statements was delivered:
"When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with a person, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."

Being able to make that statement with such conviction is definitely worth admiration - and having attended a couple of weddings of late has definitely fed my thoughts on the gravity of dedicating one's life to another.

I guess the certainty factor is very difficult to attain - how can one be certain that the person is the one whom they wish to spend their short eternity together? Even certainty of oneself does not guarantee an equal measure of commitment by the other person. I guess that it is the leap of faith and trust that one has in the other person. Embracing someone in their entirety -flaws and shortcomings included is a rather daunting proposition; uncovering them late in the piece can also be a problem. Although it took Harry a while to find out what he wanted or needed, I'm happy that he finally did.

In any case, it was a definitely a funny movie, with some great dialogue which really highlighted the characters.

Well, I guess I still have a lot of movies to catch up on...

Sunday, 2 April 2006


After last week's interesting marketing lesson at the hairdresser, I was thinking about how important marketing is in our day and age. Furthermore, how much of it is a play on our emotions to make us buy something - such as fear, love, self-consciousness. Subtle as it may be, those subliminal messages just push us over the line to fork over our hard earned cash to ease that emotional spike we feel at that particular point in time.

Recently, I was also browsing through a number of sites (including eBay and some independant sites) and there is a market for just about everything out there. The sites were varied in content and messages - I have to admit that I was very interested in the sites which were graphically impressive and were tastefully done. Each of the different sites had marketed themselves differently to target themselves at a different niche within the overall market. It has really started to get me thinking about selling items online...definitely worth a thought I reckon.

Impressed by the quality of the sites which grabbed my attention, it got me thinking about exploring my creative side. I can honestly say that I am not exactly the most creative, but from now on, my plan is to explore different areas and opportunities to be more creative. First on the list is to learn how to take awesome expect more photos to be going up! Watch this space!

On that note, I have been working late and sitting at home watching TV. One of the items which has been rather interesting is a reality show called "Project Runway" taking 12 up and coming designers and putting them to the tasks and then eliminateing one person each time. Pretty much like the "Apprentice" and the last three get to perform a full fledged fashion show. It was a delight to see the different characters come up with their different interpretations of the tasks at hand. That's something quite inspiring - to own a big label!

From a TV perspective, some old school stuff has caught my attention including:
  • a HK TVB series from 1986
  • Episodes of "The Nanny"
  • 1966 World Cup played in England
  • an advertisement showing the evolution of F1 cars
Watching these made me think about how quickly thing schange and evolve and how sometimes these vintage items can make a big comeback. Is vintage back in? So much retro is making a comeback - such as the Mini Cooper, the VW Beetle, fashion such as flares, the thin knits and cardigans, the thick rimmed glasses - heck even "Basic Instinct". Everything can make a comeback. How some things just come round...

Thinking about it, it has been such a long time since I finished high school as well as uni. When I was back in high school and uni:
  • "Friends", "Ally McBeal" and "The Practice" was showing. "South Park" just started.
  • I remember first starting to use the internet over a 33.6Kbps modem - that was heaps fast back then....and the jump to 56K was substantial.
  • Michael Schumacher was with Bennetton.
  • Manchester United were really making a breakthrough with their new generation. A boy with a name of Beckham really took off.
  • Nintendo went through Super Famicom and then the Playstation just came out
....this is really showing my age! Anyway, time flies so fast, since I can remember all that with so much detail!

Reflecting on my thoughts and values some years ago, to now, I realise that things have changed substantially. I think I weigh up what's important to me and work hard for it - no matter what it is. The main thing is satisfaction and getting to a particular milestone.

Looking around me, I can see a significant number of changes happening and I know I, for one, am committed to making doing things differently and thinking about treating all the different things as being learning experiences. I can't wait to see what's out there!

Sunday, 26 March 2006

Yeah Yeah....

While chatting last night, I realised that my flybacks home are quite short, so rather than waste my time on doing everyday stuff, I should spend the time with family and friends.

So today, I decided to get a haircut, down at Plaza Singapura. The place I wanted to go to was full and my fallback was pretty expensive (so I'm cheap, sue me!), so I decided to go to another place. Interestingly, it is a "professional hairstyling and treatment centre", also providing beauty, slimming and makeover services.

When I stepped in there, it was buzzing with activity. It was a rather large and bright establishment, offering tea and a healthy stack of very thumbed men's magazines.

The first step was obviously asking me how I would like to cut it...and then the stylist asked, "oh do you suffer from hair loss?".

I thought I was hearing wrong. "Excuse me?" I replied
"Hair loss. Are you on any program at the moment?"
"Ah no," I replied stuttering a little. "Why do you ask?"
"Well, it appears that you are thinning at the back here, and you may want to check it out. Perhaps you can see one of our consultants."
I proceeded to blindly follow the sales to their special LCD monitor hooked up to some sort of optical device to do a scalp check.

"Yes - there and there, " the consultant said, pointing at the screen. "There are thinner hairs growing, so your folicles have shut. You are starting to lose hair. You're at the stage where your hormones cause the folicles to be smaller, so the hair becomes thinner. When the hairs become thinner, they fall out easier, so you will slowly have less and less hair. Some of your folicles have shut completely - see here and here? They are dead now. However, in the early stages, you can treat it and you will have more full hair".

My head began to spin. Part of it was due to seeing my scalp so magnified (which admittedly is rather scary. It's just like the tv commercials back home, where by the specialist is checking out the scalp). Part of it was really due to the fact that I may go bald. It was just yesterday that I was thinking about my out-of-town days where I had a lot of hair.

I did some quick thinking. I have noticed a few more strands of hair on the pillows and my hair appears to be thinner. My Mum and Dad are not bald, and neither was my grandfather on my father's side. I just can't remember my Mum's side....I vaguely remember one/two uncles being bald. Drats...

"Don't worry, I will cut your hair so that it sweeps to one side," said the stylist, but the only thing I heard was "comb-over"

Apparently, I'm in the early stages and can go for treatment to revers the process. Treatements cost over $100 a visit, and in the early stages, one should go for around 6 times...which is definitely a fair amount.

I admit that I was slightly intrigued as I know that I don't really care for my hair that much (but apparently it is hormonal). According to the consultant, washing too much is bad, and so is not rinsing the hair enough (which is a bad habit of mine when I am in a hurry).
I waved away the expensive treatment that they were providing, but they still managed a cross sell on some antiseptic lotion for the hair. So I walked away with a new haircut (and less hair - *sob*) and some lotion. To be honest, I hadn't realised that so much research had been done in this area - all I remembered was that some people but brandy in their hair to help promote growth. Not sure if that was just an household remedy.

Now, I hope nobody buys me a wig as a joke...

Sunday, 12 March 2006

Car brain

Today, I managed to get a bit of a glimpse of the latest F1 qualifier in Bahrain. It was a rather interesting affair as the rules had changed significantly from last year, especially with the cars running smaller engines - which I think is a good thing as these modifications will filter down into production cars hopefully.

In watching the event, I marvelled at how the cars have undergone so much modification and technological improvements over the years that they are a far cry from those of yester-year. Looking at older footage reminded me of the cars being in little cars, with almost no downforce.

This also got me thinking about my few failed forays into getting a car of my own. Sure, I am definitely tardy and suffer from consumer remorse, but I can honestly say that I have not been in Sydney long enough to warrant me getting a car. I was thinking about how quickly technology changes and how fashions end, and so a purchase of a car, which typically involves a large sum of money, will require careful consideration.

Do I need a fast car? I would say, yes, relatively, as this would minimise time to destination.

Do I need a luxurious car? My answer would be yes, especially if I am driving +70kms almost daily.

Do I want a fuel efficient car? My answer here would also be yes, as I want something which is quite easily maintained.

Do I want a spacious car? Yes, I like something which is relatively spacious so I can relax. I don't want to feel too cramped.

Manual? Yes please... I reckon that learning manual was a great thing. I love it. Except when stuck in traffic for more than 1/2 hr.

Unfortunately, given the competing nature of these three variables, I doubt that all three can be satisfied easily. Which makes it tough, so it's back to sacrificing again. Personally, I want something which I can drive at least a couple of years and has a bit of oomph (current family car is slow) and has good brakes (virtually non-existent in current car).

As one can understand, a car is more a liability than an asset. There is insurance, registration, maintenance, fuel...the whole list adds up rather nicely. All these things deterred me from getting a car before as I would be paying for all this and not really using the car. It's been good to be able to drive (although relatively long distances) as this has allowed me to appreciate cars more and more.

One of the two cars which I would love to own (ok, I don't need to own, but maybe drive) would be a Porsche and Ferrari. They just exude class and style when they fly by. Unlike a "boyz toy" these are beautiful "men's toyz". Ah...I will continue to dream...

Monday, 20 February 2006

Quality of life

A good friend of mine has travelled even more than I have (moving on to five years of travel) and somehow managed to fit marriage into all of that travel.

The last time I had caught up with him, we were discussing our travel and how he did not have much of a life inside his home location any more, his wife was not too happy about the arrangement and how he wanted to come home.

"I think I've given up a lot already for my company and now is about time that they do something for me. If not, then I can always find another job - not that my company pays me much. I think I can easily find another job doing some boring work and get paid a lot more than hang around waiting to move up."

I wonder how much one is willing to give up as a result of work. Working with some people over here, and it appears that some people seem to be going all out with regards to trying to get things done and when I receive an email at 3am I know somethings gotta give...real soon.

Looking back at my time in Sydney, I realised that I miss my time back home. Funnily enough, as I make a transition back home, some of my friends have decided to move out of the country for a couple of years - some longer than others. I am happy that they are living out what they want to do.

My priorities and values over the years have definitely changed (my legs are definitely feeling it...). However, the main thing is to do things which really makes me happy.

Concentration is great, but sometimes, being too focussed and caught up with the task at hand means that I don't worry about the things which are meaningful to me. Often, that means I neglect myself and that around me as I immerse myself in my work. But at what cost? I think it's time I try and get some semblance of a life back - not matter where I am.

Monday, 16 January 2006

Opportunity Cost

After being more than a little fed up with having to sit within a LAN cable radius from the cable modem in the serviced apartment, I decided to purchase a wireless router and wireless USB adapter. The plan is to take them back home after this assignment and enable wireless for home upon my return.

Like any risk averse person, research was paramount. (For those interested has a wealth of information with regards to broadband connections as well as hardware related support). I spent a large portion of my time researching the pros and cons of the different hardware options (as well as understanding the different options available). In the end I decided to opt for flexibility, future use and speed - rather than an all in one solution (which are available, but will be more trouble if one component renders other components useless by virtue of being in the same casing, rather than discrete objects). I did prices comparisons between Singapore and back home. Really, it was a bit of a no brainer - given that SG prices were actually less than half of what it would have cost me back home.

The next part was shopping around. I did manage to try and get a couple of shops to try to price match, but frankly that's not a big thing over here:
"But at XYZ shop, I saw it for cheaper," in protest at their high prices.
"Well, why don't you go to XYZ shop and buy it then?" the shop assistant baulked.

After walking through the five floors of two IT malls, I managed to get a pretty good deal so walked away rather pleased with my efforts.

Setting it up was a breeze and have had no noticeable issues after running 7 hrs straight with no dropouts. I can now type this up from the comfort of my own room.


This buying experience has been an interesting one. The internet has dramatically simplified the process of researching and evaluating the pros and cons of a purchase. At some point there was too much information, as there was no single solution which satisfied my needs. Perhaps it is my
perfectionist attitude which stops me from being decisive and it is more important to understand that there is ultimately a trade-off. I understood that I could not have everything I wanted in the one solution and sometimes, it is better just to get out there and do it (and I would have saved myself the trekking!)

Sunday, 15 January 2006

Fear Factor

Today, I bought a new set of goggles since the chlorine in the pool has been causing red eyes, (not those isolated to cameras, since these red eyes actually hurt). It has been good to be able to see underwater and the clarity is amazing. I tried them at night and it was definitely an interesting experience.

Firstly, looking outside the pool, I couldn't see much as it was not lit and I didn't have contact lenses. Inside the pool, only half the pool was lit since there were a number of the pool lights which were off.

I haven't swum in years, but for some reason, I had trouble breathing correctly. Maybe I have forgotten the breathing technique for swimming - not that I am inhaling while underwater; I just start to panic that I won't surface in time to take my next breath.

The same fear had crept into my thoughts when I went snorkelling a few weeks back. My breathing technique was horribly unco-ordinated and I don't understand why that is the case.

Another common feature was that the darker and murkier sections of the water was a bit of an "unknown" - in both the pool and at the beach. I had some fleeting moments where some fear pulsed through my thoughts. As brief as it was, I have to recognise that it was there. "Why?" - I have no clue. I am not even sure whether I was half expecting a fearsome creature to emerge suddenly from the darkness and to inflict horrible amounts of pain on me. There was trigger in my head which just flipped that switch from being safe, to a practically being a fish out of water (excuse the pun). Why, when just swimming, should fear be present? It's not like I don't know how to swim.

I thought back to my childhood experiences with water, and they were not negative experiences. When I was a kid, I even did a lifesaving course. So why is that I have trouble now treading water? Why is it that I have developed a fear of deep water?

There is no real rational explanation which I can give for this. Perhaps my age is catching up to me - when I was younger, I did feel more invincible. Now, maybe know my limitations - what I am good at, what I am not good at, and I am just not good at swimming??

Or maybe I have a fear of what I don't know - what lies ahead is murky and unclear. Should I swim forward and see for myself? Or should I play it safe and stay away from those areas which I can't see? One can't be too sure - so why take that risk? It's not until I swim closer that my fears are allayed - knowing it is safe.

Sunday, 8 January 2006

A simple thing

It's raining today. Actually, perhaps raining is an understatement - it's pouring down in Singapore (at least where I am).

Luckily, my recent Christmas haul included a funky pair of Havaianas. Thanks!

Previously, I was reluctant to wear thongs.
"I have ugly feet," I complained.
"Nah man. Heaps of people wear them and they have ugly feet," came the reply.

My previous pair were a pair of Wal-Mart "specials"...USD$1 excl. tax. I used them predominantly to walk through communal washroom/change room facilities. The major differences were comfort - my old pair were not very comfortable and the soles were thin, resulting in sore feet (esp. balls and heels) after walking around in them.

These new ones are great - they were spongy at the bottom and my feet felt distanced from the ground. Great stuff I say.

So far I walked around Botanical Gardens and Centennial Park and down to the shops.

Today, was my first true rain test. The umbrella only managed to cover half my body and my legs were all wet. Coupled with a few drainage problems on the street, my feet got really wet. It was rather chilly when I walked into some shopping centres. No fail, practically all shopping centres here have the air-conditioning on some ridiculously low temperature where you'd swear that it was about to snow at any moment.

It was fun to be able to walk through puddles and watch other people shy away from those deep puddles. I hadn't done that in AGEs. Also, the heavy rain meant that a lot of roadside shops were closed along Orchard Rd, resulting in less marketers coming up and asking:
"Are you interested in card?"

Great piece of work those thongs are. The best part was coming home, kicking them off and cuddling up to my warm apartment and a hot drink. Perfect.

- Feet dry in an instant
- Spashing through puddles
- Walking through water
- Watching other people avoid puddles
- Kicking off my thongs - less sweat and smell. Yuck!

- Feet are cold in shopping centres
- In deep puddles, they can slip off
- Difficult to run for the traffic lights
- Feet can get dirty and annoying when hard objects (e.g. leaves, wood rocks) get caught between sole and thong. Ouch!

How can you go wrong with splashing in puddles and enjoying the freedom of air between the toes. Definitely be wearing them more often!

Thursday, 5 January 2006

Last two weeks

The last two weeks of last year were spent at home. In my own bed. In my own home. In my own city.

While at home at the end of the last year, I admit that I loved every minute of being there. From the moment I touched down late on a Saturday night, I felt consumed by the irreplaceable life which I had come to love. Sure there are always highs and lows in every place, but going back allowed me to appreciate all the small things which go largely unnoticed; all that is so fundamentally integrated in my life but I take for granted.

Some of the major highlights for my last two weeks of 2005:

1) Sleeping in my own bed. It's small but cosy, warm and safe.
2) Being surrounded by friends and family. And different wines.
3) Snorkelling for the first time. At the beach. Safe.
4) Walking through the Botanical Gardens and seeing the city skyline. Ok, so the stroll was because I was a little lost. But it was definitely worth it.
5) Watching a movie in Centennial Park. M&Ms for dinner
6) Chilling out and relaxing. Sleeping counts. So does snoring. I'm on holidays, ok?
7) Big Christmas meals. Weight-watchers is gonna make a killing.
8) Playing Taboo. It's not about winning or losing - or so losers like to think. :p
9) Going for a round of golf - Unbeatable city skyline views and beautiful water views. In a buggy - I have never felt fresh after a round of golf.
10) Having fun! Can't beat that.

Don't get me wrong - I throughly enjoyed going to different countries, travelling and visiting new places. But I think Dorothy summed it up nicely: "There's no place like home"...

How handy would it be, if I could have taken a snapshot of the "Last Two Weeks of 2005"?
Every so often I would take it out every once in a while and reminisce about the "good times". When I am not having a great day, I will whip it out to remind me of what happier moments once were, and look forward to experiencing that again.
I think I need a constant reminder to keep me going until my next long break.

Thanks 2005!