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Today (or rather yesterday, Saturday) was a day capped off with a powerful emotional experience at the end.
My wife and I attended Tunnel Through Time, a MHL Production at Kallang Theatre. We left the theatre changed at the end of the experience.
Have you ever thought about how life would be like if it changed in a moment?
What if life was perfect and rosy and a sudden turn of events changed everything you thought you had forever?
I’m sure that how many of the Asian tsunami survivors feel in the aftermath, and also the families of the survivors and victims from that disaster.
Intellectually, I understand, although the pictures on television creates an emotional distance, and we are free to turn off the images when they get too painful.
It’s a whole different perspective when experiencing it in front of your eyes however.
Tunnel Through Time depicts life for the Kinnear family over the past 16 months.
Scotsman David and wife Rohaiyah have just moved to Papua New Guinea where David has been stationed to heard the office in the third world country.
One night, David suffers Extensive Ponitac Brainstem Infarct, a form of stroke. This affects 1 in 5 stroke suffers, with more than 50 percent of sufferers dying from this condition.
Rohaiyah’s entire existence is changed, and amidst the financial strain as the insurance coverage runs out and the emotions drain, she feels the world caving in.
Watching the events unfold, I felt the panic and despair building up and the world turning a blackish shade.
However what make this story different is that Rohaiyah finds the inner strength to focus on her only purpose to help her husband recover and do everything to get him there.
The story is more than about illness, but how human resilience and strength can turn the tide.
Since the production was last staged, it’s raised $24,000 and rather than solicit further funds from the public, the production is being re-staged by MHL Productions to support David’s rehabilitation efforts.
It shows the story when David and Rohaiyah first meet, get married and their darkest hour.
The most powerful part of the production was when David Kinnear was wheeled onto the stage, accompanied by his wife and two children, Jihan and Johan.
I could sense the love and strength emanating from them and most of the audience was in tears as we gave the brave family a standing ovation.
The battle is still not won yet, however, though the Kinnear family will continue to move one step closer towards David’s recovery.
Do visit http://www.tunnelthroughtime.com to find out more about the production and in particular their information page tells more about the family’s story. You can also write to the family at email@example.com.
Donations to the Kinnear family can be made by writing a cheque to “DJKinnear Recovery Fund” and post it to the Kinnears residence directly at:
Blk 2 Delta Ave #24-40
The Kinnear family: David (seated), Rohaiyah, Jihan, Johan
As I started this blog I mentioned that we all have about 4,000 weeks to live. Some dramatically more and some dramatically less. We cannot control how long each of us is given, but we can control how we spend the time.
As David himself communicated through a series of eye blinks to Rohaiyah, “Live each day as if it’s your last day”.
And I left the theatre wondering, what more could I do to make a difference.
Be well, everyone.
And now for something a little lighter.
About a year ago, I went to Mustafa Shopping Centre (the brick and mortar store, not the website) and wanted to check out some toiletries.
Shopping for toiletries, especially for toilet paper is an art.
It’s also a science.
what you want to do is go for a toilet paper with a high a comfort level as possible.
how is comfort defined?
The formula goes like this: comfort = [frictional coefficient] / [price].
you want to buy a toilet paper which is cheap (price being as low as possible)
while having a very very very low frictional coefficient, else besides removing waste matter from your behind, you’ll also be removing a your anus and rectum.
One brand of tissue paper I like is Paseo.
What I like about it is it’s smooth quality and is kinda ‘up market’ looking.
It’s thick and the design looks floral and kinda springtime-y.
The other thing is if you’re having a cold and blowing your nose all the time, this paper won’t not to shred your nose like i’ve experienced with some other brands.
Back to the toilet paper…
I was keeping an eye out for Paseo toilet paper, but it looked like they had been ‘clean out’ so to speak.
I checked out the products on offer.
Most of them looked fairly ‘industrial’ and somewhat reminiscent of sand paper.
I was taken aback when a package of rolls dropped onto the floor with a loud THUD!
Toilet paper hitting the floor with a thud? I crossed that brand off my list and checked out something interesting.
Hmm, a roll of Scott paper. I looked at the price, looked fairly reasonable.
I was feeling a little distrubed however and started to put it back.
“Hey, what are you doing?” the wife asks.
“I don’t think this is for us. It’s just not right.”
“Not right? Why”
“Well, see?” I said, pointing at the picture of the cute doggy.
“What about it?”
“I wouldn’t ever dream of using this paper”
“What????” The wife says
Sighing, I looked at her.
“Think about it for a moment. The thought sickens… I’d rather rub my butt with newspapers”
“Sick is the only word i can come up with. Actually, there’re 3 words. Sick, sick, sick.”
“I mean LOOK at it!!! Would you use a toilet paper used to WIPE A DOG’S BUTT on your own???? I mean it’s fine for the dog and everything, but I DON’T want to use some weirdo DOGGY TOILET PAPER on my ass!”
“You are silly” the wife goes.
“WHAT! Look at it? It’s got a happy dog who just got his butt wiped and I’m not sure about this, but humans and dogs are different. I wouldn’t eat dog biscuits for one!”
“You…you…fool! The dog is the Scott mascot or something. Can’t you see it says “toilet paper” packaging”
“Ah, but it doesn’t say “human toilet paper” does it?”
“I give up” the wife says and walks away
I spend some time looking over the package with doubt in my heart.
the fact that the bag is stamped with a proof of purchase worth “Three Puppy Points” doesnt put my heart at ease either.
Seriously, think about this for a moment. Remember the last time you went to a supermarket and passed the dog food section?
How were the cans labelled?
With a picture of a dog or other animal on the can, right?
Don’t believe me?
Check this out:
It’s Pedigree dog food products.
What do you see on each package and can?
You see either a dog, or a dog or a dog.
How hard can it be to understand that the picture on your packaging is closely associated to the contents of your product or service?
Now think with me for a moment, what would customers think when you print a picture of a dog on your toilet paper. The Scott paper was good by the way, I’ve been buying it regularly for the past couple of months. But what kind of first impression does that make on the potential buyer?
There could be an important reason why the dog appears on the package, however I don’t ‘get it’ in the three seconds I’m looking at the product.
Thinking further afield, I’m fearing the day I see condoms in my 7-Eleven with a picture of a dog on the packaging.
Keeping my fingers crossed that that day will never come,
Have a great and relaxing weekend!
ok, hands up, who likes to do housework?
yeah? thought so.
apart for Bree, the prototypical homemaker (housewife is an evil, evil word in our age) in Desperate Housewives, it’s hard to find anyone who genuinely enjoys mopping floors, washing dishes, keeping the house from becoming hades, complete with dust devils.
no, i’m not talking about washing the dishes that one time and saying it’s a ‘therapeutic’ experience, but doing it day in and day out.
however, i have to say that i really enjoy ironing.
lest it be confused with pumping iron, let me state that i enjoy pressing iron (to clothing that is, not to warm flesh…)
there’s something primeval about adding water to the iron’s reservoir, coiling the electric cable like a whip and turning everything on, before the gush of steam jets out of the iron’s vents.
the best part i think is when the iron is pressed onto the clothing and the wrinkled cloth is transformed into the smoothest fabric and it just feels so great against the skin.
i’ve even gone to the extent of ironing my pillow cases and sometimes towels too.
if you’ve never tired it out, go do it once and see the difference.
the smoothness is comforting and the ironing process leaves a particular ‘heat’ scent on the cloth.
of course, the type of iron is important as well, i’ve been using my trusty ‘black and decker’ for the last 5 years or so and it’s served me well.
i particularly like setting the ironing board in front of the tv and going through a couple of hours of recorded programmes. then again, the shows have to be somewhat light entertainment. watching Akira Kurosawa’s Kagemusha (a Japanese take on Shakespeares’ King Lear) or Zhang Yimou’s wuxia (Swordfighting) feature House of Flying Daggers would require my full attention. My linguistic capacity in Mandarin and Japanese leaves a lot to be desired. So too for dramas which are really top class like HBO’s prison drama Oz or cop drama The Shield or circus freak drama Carnivale. For these series, i have to sit down, do absolutely nothing with attention riveted to the screen.
otherwise with almost everything else, it’s just happy ironing with eyes glued to the moving pictures, and a keen awareness of where the iron is at, where the clothing is located and pretty importantly, where my fingers are at.
happy ironing all!
throw away your textbooks, burn your references. just go out and buy a novel (trashy-ness optional) today.
you’ll learn more from it, than any book in school, or so i’ve learned.
in my more than 3 decades of existence, i’ve learned the following:
1) novels are cheaper than textbooks or reference books
2) novels are more fun and interesting than said books
3) i’ve read some novels like 10 times and keep going back years later.
can’t say the same for my school books though.
what i’ve discovered is that the novels give a clear sense of ‘real life’ compared to the musty theoretical tomes in school. i’ve learned more from watching, reading what the characters go through, than merely the description, explanation and examples given in textbooks.
and besides the novel’s topics are infinitely more interesting.
let me give you an example.
1) Private Parts: This is a great book. No relation to Michael Chiang’s private parts (his comedy production, not his genitals….). A semi-autobiographical account of radio shock jock Howard Stern’s rise to prominence (or notoriety), this is an engaging read, from his dreams of becoming a radio personality “It dawned on me that if you were half a mutant you could probably get on the radio”. It also talks about his attempts to launch ‘Gay Dial a Date’ in Washington DC and being lauded for “one of the best, most senstivie treatments of Gay themes ever to air on the mainstream media”. The book is much better than the movie of the same name, and gives insight into one of the most influential men in radio.
It kinda makes me think that Singapore ‘shock’ DJ weenies ought to take a page out of Howard’s book. I don’t know about you, but hearing grown men call each other ‘brudder’ all day and acting like teenagers grates on my nerves after the first 20 seconds.
Besides getting an idea of how to create a distinct identity, the book serves as a primer to bring out creativity and innovation in an industry where everyone mimics everyone else.
2) Monkey Business (Swinging through the Wall Street Jungle) by John Rolfe and Peter Troob: not to be confused with the Black Eyed Peas “Monkey Business” Album, this novel (i’m assuming it’s fairly accurate) chronicles 2 guys who finish their MBAs at ivy league schools and attempt to break into the world of investment bank.
great for those planning to enter the finance industry, this work is studded with pearls of wisdom like:
1) don’t take a big crap and stink up the bathroom in your interviewers hotel room (you won’t be called back for a second interview)
2) how dapper bankers dress… “The DL Thompson partner who greeted us was straight out of a Charles Dickens novel. He had stuffed his generous ass into a tight pair of seersucker trousers. On top, he wore a bright red sweater vest that looked as if it had recently been pulled from the garbage receptacle behind the office tower that was home to DL Thomspon and Co’s offices…The guy was a freak, a bad Halloween rendition of an innkeeper out of the Canterbury Tales, and we were there to kiss his ass. His name was Chester Goodman III.”
3) For those with aspirations to list a company on the stock exchange or be on the investment banking team that brings it public, the authors happily deflate all high and mighty expectations. For example in explaining a stock offering prospectus, they happily explain the following sections:
“Use of Proceeds: Not too many people pay attention to this section, but they should. A careful reading of this section will tell you where the hell all the money from the offering is going. If it’s not going into the company coffers to help grow the company, but instead is going to pay out existing owners and management, then stay away. If owners are cashing out, there’s no reason for you to be cashing in”
pretty commonsensical advice for stock investors.
another handy explanation:
“Management – This section presents biographies of both the management team and the board of directors. Members of management and/or the board of directors generally get only two to three senstences each to make themselves seem important, so they maximize the balderdash per sentence. The Management section also presents the reader with an opportunity to assess just how inbred the board of directors is. A good way to figure out how likely it is that the directors are sucking money out of a company is to draw a chart with each director’s name in a box. Read through the Management section, and each time that you identify a professional or personal connection between two directors, connect their boxes with a line. If you also happen to know about other relationships between directors, for instance one director is married to another director’s daughter, or one director is an old college buddy of another director, you can draw a line in there as well. If upon completion, the chart looks like a spider web, then hold on to your wallet”
good stuff for those planning to enter the finance industry or looking for more insight into the workings of the stock market.
someone reading this book would gain enough insight to keep clear of the many companies in dire straits which have imploded in recent years.
3) An Unseemly Man: and less i be accused of promoting ‘cheem’ or esoteric books, there’s Larry Flynt’s autobiography. Flynt better known as the subject of the film “The People vs Larry Flynt” is probably best known as founder and publisher of porn mag Hustler.
The book chronicles his rise from a farmboy growing up in Kentucky, his sexual experience with a chicken, serving in the military, starting his first working class bar and working 24 hour days to promote it and keep it running. gradually he opens a strong of Hustler Clubs across Ohio with clubs in Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo and Akron, all the while taking amphetamines (or ‘Speed’) to keep him working 4 days without sleep.
eventually he asserts his position as ‘this century’s most ardent advocate of First Amendment rights, a man whose landmark Supreme Court cases are studied by every law student in America’. In his fight against the legal system over First Amendment rights, the mainstream media reluctantly joins his cause, with the New York Times Company, the HBO, the American Civil Liberties Union, the heavyweights of the publishing industry rallying behind Flynt.
The books provides an interesting perspective, especially for those who might be interested in starting a business or going into journalism.
i realise that it’d probably be impossible that novels will totally replace textbooks, however think about how much more interesting if such novels were added to supplement the teaching in schools…
perhaps the times will change, but till then there’s the library and the bookstore.
An interesting item today, carried in the Straits Times, not a whisper or a peep in Today, the ‘other major paper’ in Singapore.
Are you one of nearly 40% of gamers who are hopelessly addicted?
Additionally, do you have an inner psycho just waiting to jump out?
Self-appointed Internet ‘advisors’ Pagi (Parents Advisory Group for the Internet) (I believe I could have come up with a better name or better initials…) commissioned a report during a video games showcase at the Science Centre and made mention of this in October last year.
Today (as in this day, not the ‘other’ paper) the findings come out that ‘game addiction’ hits 37 percent of survey respondents (of the more than 1,000 visitors to the PlanetGames games exhibition last year) and their symptoms include:
1) inability to stop playing when they know they should be doing something else
2) constantly obsessing over the game
3) engaging in conflict with parents and other family members over their addiciton
4) needing to play more and more to get their fix
Also, most at risk are males aged 17 to 20, with 1 in 8 gamers spending more than 5 hours daily in front their computers.
Ok, I admit I’m an addict.
Whether it’s the bouts of Defense of the Ancients or DOTA, a Warcraft 3 modification (a violent real-time strategy game in which humans, elves, orcs and other fantasy creatures beat each other into the next era), or in Maple Story, an adventure game from the creators of Gunbound, there is something sickeningly satisfying about spending hours in front of a screen, pounding furniture and the keyboard all the while yelling, screaming and cursing at the screen. i guess it’s something like watching a soccer match or wrestling then.
but then again, i’m sure there are golf enthusiasts who scream at the screen yelling, ‘damn, i could’ve hit that putt, Tiger, with my eyes blindfolded and my hands wrapped around my wood. my 3 wood, that is…!’ or something to similar effect.
after a long hard day’s work, there’s nothing like beating up some virtual creatures, considering the real world alternative of beating your boss or colleague up, could possibly land you in a cell next to Took Leng How who’s facing child murder charges. gorgeous, ain’t it?
i’ve definitely hit the ‘computer addict’ charts a couple of times, from clocking up between 5 and 7 hours of game time a day on weekdays and between 10 and 14 hours during weekends during my university days.
for me, the computer has been a game machine, more than a glorified typewriter, or a email or internet surfing machine.
it’s been there the times my parents were out for dinner when i was a kid. when the tv showed crappy stuff during the school holidays. the times when everyone was out of the house and i was there bashing on the i-j-k-m combination (to move the game character up-left-right-down respectively) on my Apple ][ clone computer when i was 12 (that’s about 2 decades ago for those of you who’re counting).
i have to admit those Apple games were kinda pathetic and weak, but then what would you expect from a computer with 48kb (yes, that’s kilobytes, about 48,000 bytes in comparison to today’s computers with 512mb (megabytes) or roughly 512,000,000 bytes. yes, yes, i know the tech guru readers out there will correct me with 8 bits equals 1 bytes. yes i know that, but i’m making it simple here…).
back then a game consisted of a green blob (not to be mistaken with ‘blog’ which is what you’re reading now) moving around the screen firing small dots at other green blobs. it sounds sick, but this stuff was addicitive and i sometimes stayed up overnight to play it. the only sound was a distinctive bleep, kinda like the ‘censored’ sound when someone says ‘shit’ or some other naughty word on tv. you sometimes got soft bleeps, sometimes regular bleeps, and if you were really lucky, you got to hear loud bleeps (especially when you died).
the reason why all the characters were green was coz this was the age of monochrome computer monitors.
yes, there was a time when computers didnt have colour. lots of kids find this unbelievable, just like they dont believe there was a time when you had to WIND your car window down, not just push a button up and down, and occasionally (or perhaps deliberately got your brother’s finger or face caught in the window).
fast forward 15 years and i’m playing Counterstrike (a game of counter terrorists wasting terrorists) and DOTA, Tank Wars (another variation of Warcraft 3) and now Maple Story.
These games wastes lots of time and hardly generates any income, unless you’re the game developer or you set up a nifty ‘hints and tips’ website or sell a book related to it.
the worst part of it, is that even if you’re the top dog today, 2 years down the road, you become a ‘has been’, kinda like being the Pac Man champ. ‘yeah, that guy was the best in the world for this freaky game in which you played some kinda yellow circle with a quadrant cut out that if you imagined really hard, you might think you’re some kinda yellow mouth or monster or something, and then you ran around this maze, eating dots or food or some weird stuff, and then you’d have these ghosts chasing after you and if they touched you, you’d disintegrate.
weird stuff, sounds like something Game Theory developer, John Nash, might have said in A Beautiful Mind…
the interesting thing is that while all these studies will continue to show how bad all this stuff is for us, that it’ll rot our minds, reduce us to social imbeciles, bring out our dark savage and violent tendencies, we’ll continue to have one of Asia’s largest telecommunications companies and the largest company listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange,Singapore Telecom, launch one of the most addictive online computer games World of Warcraft (WoW).
This will undoubtedly mean that countless new players will get hooked on WoW and we could expect to see more ‘violent’ and addicted gamers in the near future.
I definitely would love to spend all day and night playing this game, although at the end of the day, i’m very sure that this will certainly bring me further away from my goal of hitting S$5m in net worth by the age of 35 (about 3 years away).
as of yesterday i’ve sworn off games until i achieve a couple of milestones in my quest towards my goal.
the milestones are:
1) balance my stock portfolio
2) launch my business website at http://www.bizexcellerator.com (not quite up yet, though with a draft at least ready by Aug 1st).
3) spend more time with the wife.
these 3 could keep me quite busy for a while.
I know that there are a couple of readers out there, judging by the counter hits.
do feel free to leave some comments or perhaps even share your own experiences.
in the meantime, live long and prosper.
I don’t know about you, but one of my cardinal sins is accumilating stuff. lots of it.
maybe it’s a holdover from the world war 2 years when everything was in short supply (not that i was born then). or as financial guru Suze Orman says, it represents a holding on to something, just in case we need it. it’s an expression of a fear of loss.
and so i keep receipts for purchases i have difficulty recalling later, buy books at warehouse sales, dvds (some of which i haven’t watched since buying them about 3 years ago).
and it’s an addictive kick.
once you start, it’s difficult to stop.
the frightening thing is that whatever you buy, drops to about 10% of what you paid for it if you decide to sell it when you’re sick of it (in most cases).
in fact, whole industries have sprung up to deal with the accumilation of stuff – storage cabinets, wardrobes, storage racks, plastic cargo bins, public self-storage facilities (which are starting to make their presence in singapore.
there’s a major difference between ‘junky’ stuff and ‘useful’ stuff though and i believe it’s in the frequency with which we use the items. here’s a selected record of my ‘stuff’ so far.
less useful or ‘junky’ stuff:
1) CDs: accumilating a couple of hundred CDs because they were ‘cheap’ when i bought them through a CD club when I was living in the US. I hardly listen to them more than once or twice. After factoring in the freight costs shipping them back here, the storage and space they’ve occupied over the years, i figure that it’s probably cost me much more than their initial cost.
Now when i’m looking for places to sell them, i find that the stores that do buy them are picky and selective about what they buy.
that’s headache 1.
2) Books: books represent knowledge, an accumilation of the knowledge of great minds. however, i have yet to read that andy warhol biography, or that fiction novel i had planned to start. the books are nearly occupying an entire room now and again like the CDs will be a major pain to dispose of.
argh, headache 2.
3) steam cleaner: bought this super karcher steam cleaner. it kicks major dust butt. it will be awesome to clean my parquet floors, it does a great job of cleaning the air conditioner, but due to it’s lack of use, it’s kind of been sitting there.
my new commitment is to use it more often to keep the home clean.
and now for useful stuff:
1) black and decker clothes iron and leifheit ironing board: lifesaver, without which i’ll be walking the streets in crumpled shirts and pants (not that there’re exactly pristine now…)
probably cost about $80 for the iron and $80 for the ironing board.
it’s very therapeutic to iron clothes while watching tv, and nothing beats seeing a crumpled shirt become a nice, crisp one.
i figure i must use these babies at least once every 2 weeks.
ah, the simple things in life.
2) Desktop computer: this computer i’m using is about 3 years old. it’s a pentium 4, 2 gigahertz machine and has 512 mb of ram, has a nice graphics card for gaming.
funny story how i got it.
i was doing a consulting project and the client ran into some financial dire straits.
in lieu of making a final cash payment, he gave me a computer instead.
which is kinda a godsend actually.
i store my music collection on it, send email, surf the net, keep my business accounts on it, play games, backup my nokia mobile phone address book on it, edited training videos.
it’s been on 24 hours for the last year or so and keeps on chugging.
3) knives: erm, yeah. no, i’m not some psychotic maniac. my collection of penknives and kitchen knives are a joy to behold (at least to me).
find the perfect knife is like looking for the perfect woman.
she’s got nice curves, a sharp edge, always reliable, doesn’t rust on you (interpret it how you will).
my henckels knife is like a jack of all trades. i cut butter with it, spread cream cheese, cut fruit, meat and use it when i’m making cheesecakes and ice-cream.
truly a universal cooking instrument.
penknives: the universal office tool. it me it’s more useful than a swiss army knife in removing staples, opening letters, preparing presentation materials.
sometimes i even use a penknife when i should be using scissors.
there you have it.
my definition of ‘junky’ vs ‘useful’ stuff.
will go into decluttering clutter later.
have a great one.