Keinian ideals: 坚信之道

So.

All Chinese for a change. This is an attempt to explain keinism in Chinese, but the elegant economy of the language allows for the same significance in fewer words, with poetic structure. Or so I am inclined to believe, with the rather fair grasp of my mother tongue I possess.

For those who hate Chinese, skip. For the others, enjoy!

本人的生存原则,自名为坚信之道

决意志,念不移之道路》

心灵,如止水。
态度,处之泰然。
办事,不离二字 – 计划。
求助,须先自省。
进步,先克服对未知之恐惧。
尊重,以礼相待。则不缺体恤,容忍,坦诚。

梦想,就是自由,也是飞翔的羽翅。
恋情,求缘分。婚姻,须包容。
命运,无可避。可遇不可求。
生活,就是勇气。未投降,不低头,往前走。
万物,乃过眼云烟,无需执着。
人生,是成长之旅。终结之时,无需哀过。只求不悔。

你,是否也坚信?

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Keinian ideals – Tips on getting yourself organised v2011

So I wrote about how I organised my stuff back in 2009; it’s interesting how things have changed in my system since then. With new technology comes new tools, how wonderful.

One thing I would like to reiterate in this post is GTD. So what is GTD? IMO it’s the foundation that all the other tools build on, the one thing that holds everything together.

GTD philosophy: If you haven’t read David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity then I would highly suggest that you do. I read his book back in 2008 and some of the stuff still sticks with me simply because they work.

One interesting development after adoption of the GTD is that I am no longer flustered when I forget something, so long as I know where I can access the information. Like I so wryly told Stan, my brain resembles an array of pointers rather than a storage medium these days. Not that it’s a bad thing, since I keep cool and go about finding the information that I stored as opposed to screaming like a madman when my brain fails in its task to store information correctly.

Another quirk of the Internet age is that like so many others, my ability to concentrate has diminished greatly. I get easily distracted by that other tab, that other blinking icon and soon I forget what I was supposed to be doing. It’s only salved by the GTD way of getting it off your list rather than procrastinating. If I can get it done now, I push myself to do it now. If not, it gets shelved to be checked again the next day. Only discipline to the system and an iron will to avoid procrastination can serve as a barrier against the urge to leave everything in a heap.


Springpad: With the arrival of the HTC Desire, it became a lot easier to sync stuff from the phone to the computer. Notes typed up on the go can be accessed on the computer easily, and vice versa. Springpad is a great application because of the way it integrates. The Android app allows pictures and text to be stored on the phone + updated across to the Springpad site, and the Chrome app syncs from the Springpad site down to the Springpad tab on my Chrome browser. Makes random thoughts I jot on the go an easy copy and paste job onto a blog post if I need to.


Emails to myself: This still works, especially when it’s marked as unread with a yellow exclamation mark beside it – that stands for a task undone. An orange arrow means to be followed up on, but I’m waiting on it for now, and a blue information icon stands for important information. I love GMail.


Google Docs: Mostly used at work for documentation; makes more sense to store it in the cloud rather than a hard drive that might develop bad sectors someday, not to mention improved accessibility with internet access freely available.

On the personal side, it’s used as a slate for project planning e.g. the wedding. I draw up lists of things to be done, what I need to follow up on, and a schedule of events for the day as well as a contact list.


Google Calendar: Used as reminders for birthdays, upcoming Celtics games and shared events e.g. sending invitations out to remind Stan and V that we are meeting someone up for dinner.


SpendTrack: Nearly forgot about this! So I took some time out last year and lost a ton of sleep putting together a PHP/MySQL web app that I call SpendTrack. It’s a simple system that allows manual entry of your daily expenses (category, amount, where, description, when) with reporting functions (what I spent this month/this week, household expenses for the family by everyone). This has tremendously improved the way we track our spending, because everyone is responsible for entering their own spends, and it gives us an idea of how much we are spending every month.


That’s all for now, be back with another update in 2012 on this and we’ll see how things have changed.

Repost: I don’t care for National Day

This is a repost from Insane Polygon’s original post. Literally took the words right out of my mouth, I like how he wrote it.


National Day came and went with barely a blip on my radar.

I don’t celebrate National Day.

I don’t put up flags, I don’t watch the parade and I don’t listen to any of that manufactured bullshit songs like Count On Me Singapore, Stand Up for Singapore nonsense. The only thing I celebrate is that I don’t have to turn up for work that day. In fact, that morning when I went to the gym for my workout, I seemed to be the only one attired in full black workout gear while everybody else seemingly wore red or white. Not that I had intentionally wore black, just that when I looked around, I realized I was the only one in black in a sea of red and white. Freudian slip perhaps.

Honestly I see no reason to celebrate.

Celebrate what?

Celebrate that one political party has hijacked my country, its institutions and everything it stands for? Celebrate that Singapore the nation has become PAP the political party which in turn has become the government which in turn has become the civil service. The lines are so blurred that I don’t even know where one starts and the other ends.

Singapore, PAP, NTUC, People’s Association, HDB, SAF, SIA, ST GIC, CPF and everything in between seems to be nothing more than extensions of one monolithic entity that seeks to control every aspect of our lives and wants nothing more than to make living batteries out of us and turn this country into a mega corporation.

Celebrate that? Seriously?

Everywhere I turn my head there are posters and banners with all sort of feel good sound good exhortations to celebrate National Day. Ministers and MPs smiling down benevolently at us while pictures of citizens are conveniently Photoshopped beside them as if to say we are all one people, one nation.

National Day, PAP Day- what difference does it make? Those posters and banners put up by the town councils and grassroots organizations seems identical to those election banners and posters put up by the PAP during election. Who the fuck really knows the difference?

The only thing I know is that between the political leaders and us- its one Corporation, two people. They make millions while we try to eke out a living. We stay together while they move ahead indeed. One people one nation is for suckers who still buy that bullshit. Its very telling that among that challenges spelled out by Goh Chok Tong, narrowing the worst income gap among all developed nations is not one of them.

Count on me Singapore?

If Singapore counts on me than can I count of Singapore in return? Can I count on Singapore to bail me out when I am poor and jobless? Can I count on Singapore to treat me when I am sick and penniless? Can I count on Singapore to provide me with a social safety net? Can I count on Singapore when I am old and alone? Can I count on Singapore if I suffer permanent injury in the course of NS?

It used to be said at least you can count of your CPF when you’ve reach retirement. Now who the fuck knows. They went ahead and changed the law so that if the CPF fund becomes insolvent, they can actually not pay you your money which they took away without asking for your permission. So as a Singaporean, who can I really count on except myself.

Stand up for Singapore?

Did Singapore stand up for those who lost their life savings because banks sold unsafe financial products? Did Singapore stand up for those who got conned by paper mills selling degrees of dubious origins? Did Singapore stand up for those lost their lives performing their duty as male citizens. Amid the sound and fury of the National Day parade, was there a moment of silence for those fallen NSMen? Did Singapore stand up for those people who can’t stand up for themselves. Did Singapore stand up to the transport companies that increases their fares year after year in good or bad times?

I think at some point during the celebrations, everyone was supposed to stand up and recite the Singapore Pledge together. Do these people even know what they are reciting or are they just going through the motions? Do you even know the true meaning of the pledge?

I for one did not recite the pledge for in reciting it would be the tacit support of a gross hypocrisy. To build a democratic country? When one thinks of democracy, singapore is just about as far away from that as you can get.

The truth is there is nothing in the world I want more than to celebrate National Day, to proudly stand and declare myself Singaporean.

But I can’t. I can’t celebrate National Day while Singapore remains a nation in captivity and its people stripped of their rights and civil liberties. I can’t celebrate National Day until Singapore is returned to its rightful owners- the people of Singapore.

If some fucker came into your house and stole all your stuff, you sure as hell don’t celebrate that.

Keinian ideals: The meaning of one’s existence

The daily train journey: precious time for the occasional brain exercise.

I had these thoughts in the past week:

I have always believed that life is like a scripted act – our decisions take us along different routes, but the main events were decided long ago. It’s just how you get there, that’s all.

Had a look at something I wrote long ago, and it seems like things are going otherwise right now.

It is common in life to never know if we made the right decision, until hindsight shows how we fared. Should my life end this moment, would I be able to tell myself that I lived the life I had wanted? It would have meant a poor existence otherwise. Regrets on the deathbed? Not exactly the best thoughts to have in those few final moments.

There is never a wholly right or wrong decision in life; but should our actions not match our dreams, what do we truly live for?

Random: How the Alexander Technique parallels keinism in swimming.

I attended an introductory workshop on the Alexander Technique (wiki link) on a gloomy Sunday morning last weekend, and it was actually more interesting than I thought.

In summary, it is a reflective school of thought by a fellow named F.M. Alexander (hence the name), on how you could best improve your everyday movements to minimise unnecessary strain to the body and hence avoid longterm aches and pains.


(source costco.com)

My coach for the session gave a startlingly simple example: the chair. All of us use the chair in our everyday life, but the back of the chair is actually a crutch that inhibits muscular development of the back. It was proven all too easily when everyone in the group sat straight in their chairs without leaning on the back of the chair for about ten minutes, and promptly began to feel discomfort (me included). Apparently, our backs were not as strong as we thought.

There’s also the obvious defect that chairs are all of the same height for easy production and storage, which does not facilitate comfort for everyone obviously. A short person ends up dangling, and a tall fellow tucks his legs under the chair. Therefore, the chair is also a contributor of discomfort and strain on the body.

Summary: chairs should have straight backs with no padding (because padding = bad support), and adjustable heights to suit different individuals.

Change of postures and physical habits cultivated with years of practice take time, and this is no exception. The Alexander Technique focuses on improvement over an extended period of time, and is not any wonder therapy by any stretch of imagination. And yes, it’s applicable to things like walking, sitting, standing and even singing or speaking.

A quote from the founder that the coach brought up, which I found enlightening:

“You cannot change something by repeating that which you have.”
– St. Dunstan’s Lecture 1949 (link)

Truly, change requires change itself.


This is slightly off-topic, but I found the Alexander Technique teaching similar to what I think about when swimming. The indoor pool at my apartment is about 20m in length, and swimming 1km (my usual distance covered) required 50 laps, which kind of made me feel like a goldfish bumping about in the glass bowl.

Therefore, I switched objectives instead.

  • Being absolutely horrible at the front crawl, I made it a point to observe my motions and subsequently correct them. Swimming after all, is just a set of movements made to move through water with maximum efficiency. Thereafter, I sought to experiment and improve my stroke, and I’m proud to say that the amount of effort for stroking is being reduced.
  • I paid a great deal of attention to every stroke. Similar to how you clench your abs on a situp to achieve a greater workout, I clenched the various muscle groups on every stroke. Tiring, to say the least. I swim less, but feel equally (if not more) tired.

*Note: all of the above happened before I went for the workshop.


(Back to the Alexander Technique.)


(source noelkingsley.com)

There’s also a position called the semi-supine, which is supposed to help relax your muscles and spine after you rest in the recommended position for 10-15 minutes. I tried it in the workshop, and surprisingly it did feel good. It doesn’t require much other than a quiet environment, the floor and a couple of books so you should try it too if you’re interested.

All in all, very interesting. I was tempted to sign up with the five week course after that, but the sessions begin at 7pm on Tuesdays, which is a little tough because I get to the city at 720pm on average. Oh well, self-improvement for now.

I’m currently trying (note on trying) to remind myself to sit straighter everyday, and to observe my everyday movements to see if there are unconscious habits that I should improve on. Granted it would be easier with a mirror and a personal coach, but I’ll take it by myself first to see how things go.

Keinian ideals – Ideas on discipline, gambling and winning

Ever since I got to Melbourne, gambling has more or less become a pastime. Not a daily one, but I do visit the casino every few weeks. And my balance is still positive after two years, which isn’t too bad. Not to mention today’s Chinese New Year session at Crown Casino, which turned out to be a good day really; I won about $120 with a capital of $80. How’s that for a red packet?

A casino dealer once told me: “Gambling isn’t about winning, it’s about having fun!

I like to think that winning and having fun are two halves of a whole; having fun is a little hard when you have been on a consistent losing streak the entire day isn’t it?

Therefore, gambling requires one important thing if you are to minimise your losses, and that’s mental discipline.

Mental discipline, with regards to the following:

  • Capital: tell yourself how much you are going to play, and stick to it. If thirty dollars is your capital for the day, thirty dollars it is. I can’t emphasize this enough – If you lose, leave. Don’t ever think about recouping your losses by doubling, that’s a nice way to lose more.
  • Winnings: set a limit to how much you intend to win. When you win that amount, leave. If you hit your target after playing ten minutes, don’t tell yourself it’s too early. Have the mental strength to get up from the table, and go home with your winnings.
  • Dealer: If you have been winning under a certain dealer, change tables as soon as a new dealer comes. It might be all superstition to you, but I’m quite a firm believer in this. Either you quit the table, or you sit back and watch a few games first.

I have always given thought to my losing streaks, and more than half the time it was because I failed to follow my own rules. I continued playing after I hit my target, and lost. Either that or I was on a losing streak, and I continued playing with more capital thrown in (and lost again predictably).

So hopefully these tips help you to keep your moolah in the pocket, and happy gambling! It’s Chinese New Year after all, so HUAT AH!

Keinian ideals – Tips on getting yourself organised for 2009

This post is written for shenando (NZ), who commented that I should write something about time management and/or organisation. So here we have it, Kein’s comments on how he organises his things to do in life.

First and foremost: know that the key to making any system work is discipline. You have to stick to the system, and faithfully use it all the time. Otherwise, nothing works.

I’ll share what I use right now, which is actually a mishmash of various systems. It sounds confusing, but works surprisingly well for now. Also, note that I only use these for short-term tasks; long-term goals have been shafted for now because I’m lacking inspiration.

1. Google Docs
This is one of the best applications Google is offering, and as always it’s free! Using the default Document in Google Docs, I write up a list of outstanding tasks and any relevant information. This makes sure all of the information are stored together in a single place for easy reference, and there’s no excuse about forgetting where you wrote it. All you have to do is to get online, log back into Google Docs and check your document.

Example on the general outline of a list:

Personal
> Singapore
>> This includes a list of things I should be getting to when I return. Full details on the individual tasks should be written in this document for easy references, with relevant URLs included.

> Pet
>> List of things to do for Cookie, e.g. her annual checkup.

> Work
>> You can include work, or break it into a separate document altogether. I chose to do the latter, because work is like a giant jigsaw puzzle right now and I have too many bloody things to keep track of.

> Travel
>> Holiday plans, which require planning as well. Write down details of where you plan to go, and what research you’ve done so far.

*Note: when writing information on individual tasks, always do it in the tree format below. You can see that subpoints are all easily grouped together, which makes reading relatively simpler.

Example of a detailed task, this sample was extracted from my GoogleDoc:

Singapore passport renewal
> apply via APPLES, charge $70

> alternatively apply at ICA
>> need passport photograph, current passport, IC, NETS payment $55 (? to confirm) ***

> Need to change air ticket passport number reference
>> can update on airline website: airline.com
>>> Booking ref XXXXXX
>>> Name C KEIN

> Need to go Australian High Commission to update visa label
>> Call them on (65) 6836-4100 between 2.30pm and 4.30pm to check how long it takes
>>> emailed them on 24Jan @ immigration.singapore@dfat.gov.au ***
>> http://www.immi.gov.au/contacts/overseas/s/singapore/
>> http://www.singapore.embassy.gov.au/sing/Visas_and_Migration.html
>> Visiting hours 0900 to 1200 for immigration counter
>> directions: http://gothere.sg/directions#tampines%20st%2022:napier%20road

Note that I’m using > as the main tree, and >> for subtree and so on. *** is used to denote points that should be followed up on.


2. Yahoo! Calendar
Yahoo! has improved its calendar by leaps and bounds by integrating it with the new Yahoo! mail interface. IMO, it’s much more accessible and easy to use now. I’m an email junkie, so keeping reminders with the email makes a lot of sense. The calendar’s used to keep track of important upcoming events, and the event is filled up with bite-sized information (e.g. location, things to bring along) – the original full chunk is still stored in the GoogleDoc.


3. Mobile phone calendar
This is used to set daily recurring reminders e.g. check my work email (at predetermined times) and update expenditure. The mobile phone’s always around us, so this is good for keeping us on track for daily stuff.


4. Emails to myself
This is usually done as a last resort when I’m too lazy to write things that interest me down properly in Google Docs. I dump all the raw data into a single email and address it to myself, period. Saves time, and easily noticeable. It’s always good to straighten things out and throw these over to the GoogleDoc of course, serves to make things neat.


That’s all I have to offer, hopefully this opens up some thoughts on how you should structure your everyday tasks and better yet, get started on completing some of them on time!

Have a good year people.