Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Go with the Flow



Fast Company: The Art of Work talks about Csikszentmihalyi's concept of flow at work.
It's a condition of heightened focus, productivity, and happiness that we all intuitively understand and hunger for... People engage so completely in what they are doing that they lose track of time. Hours pass in minutes. All sense of self recedes. At the same time, they are pushing beyond their limits and developing new abilities. Indeed, the best moments usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to capacity. People emerge from each flow experience more complex, Csikszentmihalyi found. They become more self-confident, capable, and sensitive. The experience becomes "autotelic," meaning that the activity actually becomes its own reward. "To improve life, one must improve the quality of experience," he says. One of the chief advantages of flow is that it enables people to escape the state of "psychic entropy," the distraction, depression, and dispiritedness that constantly threaten them.

The Bandit Of Joy

Max Lucado

Black Bart terrorized the Wells Fargo stage line for thirteen years, roaring like a tornado in and out of the Sierra Nevadas, spooking the most rugged frontiersmen.

During his reign of terror between 1875 and 1883, he is credited with stealing the bags and the breath away from twenty-nine different stagecoach crews.

A hood hid his face. No victim ever saw him. No artist ever sketched his features. No sheriff could ever track his trail. He never fired a shot or took a hostage.

He didn't have to. His presence was enough to paralyze.

He reminds me of another thief-one who's still around. You know him. Oh you've never seen his face, either. You couldn't describe his voice or sketch his profile. But when he's near, you know it in a heartbeat.

If you've ever been in the hospital, you've felt the leathery brush of his hand against yours.
If you've ever sensed someone was following you, you've felt his cold breath down your neck.

If you've awakened late at night in a strange room, it was his husky whisper that stole your slumber.

You know him.

It was this thief who left your palms sweaty as you went for the job interview. It was this con man who convinced you to swap your integrity for popularity.

And it was this scoundrel who whispered in your ear as you left the cemetery, "You may be next."

He's the Black Bart of the soul. He doesn't want your money. He doesn't want your diamonds. He won't go after your car. He wants something far more precious. He wants your peace of mind-your joy.

His name? Fear.

His task is to take your courage and leave you timid and trembling. Fear of death, fear of failure, fear of God, fear of tomorrow-his arsenal is vast. His goal? To create cowardly, joyless souls.

From The Applause of Heaven
Copyright 1990, Max Lucado

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Spooked, I Am Not


FCBC's The Spook Show


Was invited by Daniel Kuan to attend his church's The Spook Show at Suntec City yesterday. Although the event is an evangelistic one, it is not immediately apparent. Upon stepping into the hall, one is greeted by eerie lighting, wandering ghouls & spirits, and too many screaming girls. The spook-themed show eventually begins with an hour of magic tricks and illusions performed by Rev Lawrence Khong, the church's senior pastor.

Even as a visiting Christian, I feel unsettled and questions are abuzz in my mind - especially during one segment where Rev Khong "calls upon a spirit" to perform tasks in a "Spirit Chamber". Such a reaction is ironic because controversy isn't new to my church either. But by the end of the show, it's clear to me how both the theme and purpose of the show come together to deliver the same salvation message preached at churches all over.

We can certainly compare these two local mega-churches to determine if there is indeed a winning formula. But ultimately it's not the means that matter - as long as the means do not violate biblical principles. The Spook Show and a preaching magician, the Gospel Concert Tour and a singing pastor, a church building with a titanium body... all these are external facets. It's the congregation's attitude and spiritual hunger that matters.

I've come to realize that it takes maturity and a godly open-mindedness to engage in such secular and contemporary methods of outreach. Most importantly, it takes a calling sanctioned by God himself or else they simply become another of Man's vain activities.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Can You Smell It in the Air?



The hungry ghosts festival, that is.

Once a year, the Singapore air is thick with the smell of smoke and the void decks and pedestrian walkways are littered with piles of burnt incense paper marked with white chalk.

Being a 3rd generation chinese, I could never understand why people adhere to such traditions, despite the inconvenience and irritation caused, not to mention environmental pollution.

The first night of the festival saw people lighting up candles along staircases to form a lighted passage. Kinda creepy when you realize the intention behind it.

At least this tradition makes for less crowded pools.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band



Beatles

It was twenty years ago today
Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play,
They've been going in and out of style,
But they're guaranteed to raise the smile,
So may I introduce to you,
The act you've known for all these years,
Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

We're Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
We hope you will enjoy the show
Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Sit back and let the evening go
Sergeant Pepper's Lonely
Sergeant Pepper's Lonely
Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

It's wonderful to be here,
It's certainly a thrill
You're such a lovely audience,
We'd like to take you home with us, we'd love to take you home.

I don't really want to stop the show,
But I thought you might like to know,
That the singer's going to sing a song
And he wants you all to sing along,
So let me introduce to you
The one and only Billy Shears
And Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Six Feet Under Laid to Rest



After 5 beautiful seasons, the bitter-sweet, quirky yet poignant series about life and death departed peacefully to much public mourning on July 24.

NYTimes: And They All Died Happily Ever After, Sort Of - Spoiler warning!





Sunday, August 21, 2005

Bad Love Is Better Than No Love



He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet (Proverbs 27:7)

The human soul is created with a basic need of being loved and Man will persist in seeking after love. Even bad love is better than no love.

So what is love that is good, true and pure? For one, it is acceptance. Acceptance of who and what one entirely is, flaws and failings included.

Are you walking in acceptance today?

Sawdust (2005)


Sawdust Website


AND YOU THOUGHT YOUR FAMILY WAS A CIRCUS!

"Sawdust" is a documentary that explores the lives of a legendary family of circus performers, the Zoppés, who have been thrilling audiences around the world since 1842. Unfolding over the course of a week, the film chronicles the Zoppé Family Circus' first visit to Chicago, showcasing a colorful cast of characters and their sometimes life-threatening work. "Sawdust" pulls back the curtain to reveal the performers' humanity and their unique relationship with the dying art of the family circus.

Official Selection: 2004 Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
and 2005 River's Edge Film Festival

Friday, August 19, 2005

Blinking Against the Twilight



After my course at SIM today, was due to meet Chan & Wilson for dinner at Purvis St. Decided to pop over to the new central library to explore the famed building.

Approaching it from far, one would spy a white mass of newness towering over squatter buildings nearby. But truly it is an emblem of Singapore's progress, though some protest if it was necessary to tear down the old one which bore much sentimental value - myself included (all those times of photocopying horn concerto scores)!

Headed for the basement first, was delighted to find so many different newspapers available. As usual, the magazines were a mess. Decided to flee from the crowd.

As I rode the escalators, I peered up & down, left & right, looking to discover some fancy thingamajig. To my disappointment, nothing really caught my eye except for the ledges that hug the building. I imagine that they can be extended at will to divert wind or shade the occupants from the shifting sun. Maybe should have taken the guided tour.

Realized that there were exhibits happening on every level, briefly explored the HYPE gallery. Discovered the Straits Times' 160th anniversary photo exhibit on the 13th floor. Wonder why they put it so high up - the only reason I got there was because I wanted to visit the Rare Collections which turned out to be restricted to authorized personnel.




Photos courtesy of country-data.com

The photo exhibit turned out to be quite a joy and also very educational - never mind the national education slant. A few have been published in ST's 160th anniversary edition, but many more are waiting to be discovered. Photos spanning a century of our past captured all of famous (& infamous) events and the Singaporeans' life back then. Some provoked a wince, a grimace or a sympathetic "oh dear..." in me.

One captured a picture of a chinese communist whose car bomb went off prematurely. Another showed nurses protesting against being exploited. One was of children peering into a peepshow contraption to view a short movie for 5cents a pop.

Halfway through, the fire alarm went off. Instincts told me to dash for the exit, but apathy held me back. After a minute, a fire-proof partition dropped down slowly to seal the exits leading back to the lifts. A family of aunties & kids hurriedly dashed through a la Mission Impossible style, i.e. just in time.

The rest of us could do nothing but wait it out. Turned to be a false alarm and didn't wait too long, though the thought of burning to death briefly crossed my mind.

My exploratory mood unspoilt by the alarm fiasco, I headed to the Southeast Asian collection on the 11th floor.

Ahhhhh, utter peace & quiet. Grabbed a book on the history of Ang Kor and the Khmer empire and sat next to the window facing Suntec City. Took in the wonderfully calming view of the darkening sky against the awakening city lights.

Finally Chan called. Lingered a short while longer before rushing over to meet them for Hainanese tze cha - deep-fried pork chop!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Monday, August 15, 2005

Mysterious Skin (2005)



Quoted review from NYTimes:
Mr. Heim's lyrical, tough novel, also titled ''Mysterious Skin,'' lifts what could have been a conventional narrative of trauma and recovery (with equally conventional elements of the coming-out, coming-of-age story) into a vivid tale about the strangeness and awfulness of life.

Mr. Araki and his brilliant cast (which also includes Mary Lynn Rajskub as a self-avowed alien abductee who befriends Brian) lift it even further, into a gorgeous, heartbreaking and utterly convincing work of art. Its characters stay with you, and by concentrating on the lives of two very different young men, it seems effortlessly to illuminate a period and a milieu. To say that it is about child abuse is accurate, but incomplete. It is about the Midwest, about friendship, about the connections and disconnections between love and sex, and about a great deal more, all of it handled with clarity, simplicity and rare generosity of spirit.

A well-done but utterly disturbing show with a well-casted protagonist. Couldn't sleep last night; images & scenes persisted in my mind...

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Fleeting



Went for a run at the Botanics after cell group today. Since I've never driven there before, navigating there took both a bit of mental visualising and also some effort at staying calm.

Originally planned to change inside the car in the carpark, but saw that human traffic was too high and decided to avoid any potentially embarassing situations. Odd that a lot of indians were visiting - were they all frequent patrons of Les Amis, I thought to myself.

Daylight was already waning when I started my virgin discovery jog. Was crowdless except for picnicking families, strolling couples and other joggers.

My thoughts while jogging?

Big dog, hope he doesn't bite. Hmm, if he started chasing me, what would the owner do? Recall incident of woman mauled to death by pit bulls.

Oh, going uphill now, gotta pump it up. Ahh... nice breeze peppered with floral fragrance.

Oh, downhill - go easy, watch those knees. Hmm, real dark now, what if I faint & collapse, will anyone discover me?

Wonder where this path leads, let's find out. Alamak, slow woman ahead running in middle of narrow path. Prepare to be overtaken.


As I squeeze by her, she shifts to the left and utters, "Oh, sorry about that." Didn't reply.

Nice voice though, v. intelligent sounding. Terribly un-runner-savvy berms tho. Maybe I should have acknowledged her apology. Well, too bad now, she's way behind.

Plod plod...

Oh, here she is again. Maybe I should talk to her. Wonder how old she is, maybe she's married. Oh, she's gone by a different path now. Oh well.

Ended the 34min run with the usual cooling down stretches. Saw people gathering at the visitors' centre, thought I spied an Indian couple garbed in traditional wedding gear. That explains.

Lightness



Death Cab for Cutie

There's a tear in the fabric of your favorite dress
And i'm sneaking glances.
Looking for the patterns in static
They start to make sense the longer i'm at it.

Ivory lines lead
Oo wha-ho, oo wha-ho

Your heart is a river that flows from your chest
Through every organ
Your brain is the dam
And i am the fish who can't reach the cord.

Ivory lines lead
Oo wha-ho, oo wha-ho

Oh, instincts are misleading
You shouldn't think what you're feeling
They don't tell you what you know you should want.

Ivory lines lead
Oo wha-ho, oo wha-ho
[x2]

Oh, instincts are misleading
You shouldn't think what you're feeling
They don't tell you want you know you should want.

Ivory lines lead
Oo wha-ho.
[x2]

Little Britain



BBC7 Comedy - Little Britain

Matt Lucas and David Walliams delight in all that is mad, bad, quirky and generally bonkers about the people and places of Britain. This takes the form of a tour around the oddball world of Little Britain, with the booming god-like voice of Tom Baker providing the narration. This is a Britain where the capital city is called Sneddy, where Whizzer and Chips has a political correspondent and where, unlike other countries, there are in fact TWO genders.

Weekend, Hurrah...


click for big pic


A lazy start to the weekend.

After the fireworks, it was a real drag getting back to work on wed and I'm not the only one feeling this way. Had to fight to stay awake during night-time bible study. Belt's getting awfully tight, time to shed some weight.

Met Yongzheng for dinner on thu. Apparently there was a protest outside CPF and a ridiculously over-reaction from the police.

Was at the church bookstore last night.

Not much time to type, G's gonna get upset again at me for making her wait.

Ciao.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Happy National Day



After my morning jog, I flicked the radio on to hear Glenn Ong & FD praising the NDP. Couldn't believe my ears for a moment, till barely 2 sentences later, Ong started dissing the NDP as being staid & boring. Later as I entered the lift at my office tower, I heard Joe Augustin & Maggie commenting how slowly the performers were twirling their fire-tipped sticks.

Here's my response to them: Enough already, just enjoy the parade for what it's worth, like the rest of us S'poreans.

I honestly did feel proud and happy while watching the parade, that I'm so blessed to be living in a prosperous country and that my future's bright and beckoning.

Ong & FD did invite listeners to call in with their comments and Ong asked 1 good question, "If you could, what would you change about the NDP?" And that's food for thought.

The torch relay turned to be a flag relay and the 2km flag-off run felt like an extended sprint. Got worried when the mayor of the constituency started lagging behind, but no one said anything. Was an interesting experience, though nothing spectacular.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Remember this?



For the wannabe film buffs, discovered this cyber-gem: SGFilm.com

Friday, August 05, 2005

Woot! More running!



Signed up to take part in a 2km torch relay on National Day. Pray hard we don't drop the torch!

Coordinator tells me he selected folks who manage 9+ min timings for 2.4km. Woot! There goes!

Truly Madly Deeply


Truly Madly Deeply


Interesting blog done in graphic novel style.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Clueless About Hair



Straw Poll: Should Ed shave & become a skinhead? Drop me a comment, will ya??

Getting fed up. I've come to realize tt for all my attempts at hair-styling, it seems to be flopping. Colleagues commented my hair looks flat & bare today. Man, I should just crop everything off.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Woof


Fray.com: Pet Stories


Fray.com's always been one of my favourite sites, though I don't visit it regularly. First discovered back in 1996(?) while surfing about, the stories are posted by people from all over the world - some inspiring, some depressing - and are nicely presented for easy reading. Read on...

BeyondJazz.net


For nujazz & more.


Comes with podcast too.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Boink

Eating In



Lunch menu: Rice + Mussels + Peach chicken + Kai lan + Pineapple + Pokka Green Tea