Saturday, October 18, 2008

SPOTLIGHT: WHICH 'ME' DO I WANT TO BE?

I have spotted this beautiful poster with the apt question at the air-conditioned street corridor of Bugis Junction this afternoon.

SPOTLIGHT: TAKE THE SEXY WAY . . .

I have spotted this interesting poster in front of the J.CO cafe at the basement of Bugis Junction this afternoon.

Just wonder . . . if Hazelnut Latte is the sexy way, what would be the non-sexy, i.e. dull & innocuous, way?

JERRY SEINFELD'S PRODUCTIVITY SECRET

I have found this little gem, though belated, on productivity by Brad Isaac, a programmer & blogger, while surfing the net.

The author had apparently learned the secret from comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

It reminds me of the Japanese process improvement principle known as kaizen.

Here's the link to the article.

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"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, & more violent. It takes a touch of genius - & a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction."

~ Albert Einstein;

SCIENCE'S FOUR STEP CREATIVE PROCESS

I an intrigued when I read the following at M G Taylor's Portal, under 'Quote of the Week Selections':

Any theoretical science has four aspects. These are:

- insight, to perceive the structure of new ideas;

- imagination, which projects a mental image of the whole idea, not only as a visual image, but a feeling for it;

- reasoning, to work out the consequences logically; & finally,

- calculation, to get numbers that make possible precise tests with experiment;

~ quantum physicist David Bohm , in 'Glimpsing Reality: Ideas in Physics & the Link to Biology', (University of Toronnto Press, 1996); Bohm laments that most often we spend far too little time exploring the imagination phase together, in dialogue & exploration; we rush to rationalize & bring our familiar reason to a new thought; we abort our sense of new possibilities;

Friday, October 17, 2008

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

1. What is my genius?

2. Is my genius at work?

3. What is my purpose?

4. Is my genius on purpose?

~ inspired by the book, 'Is Your Genius at Work?: 4 Key Questions to Ask Before Your Next Career Move', by Dick Richards;

CULTIVATING A MINDFUL ATTITUDE II

[continue from the Last Post]

Combined with some of my personal comments, here are the suggested methods of increasing mindfulness, which I have taken the liberty to glean from an insightful article by Dr Ellen Langer & Dr Shelly Carlson, in the 'Handbook of Primary Care Psychology', edited by Dr Leonard Haas:

(1) Actively observe novel distinctions:

- Actively learn to notice new things - events, objects, behaviours or situations - in the environment;

- Avoid making judgement, but make distinctions;

- Make active mental exploration of the world around you as a way of life;

Incidentally, according to Gerald Sindell, inventor of the Endleofon innovation process & author of the forthcoming book, 'The Genius Machine', one of the critical attributes of a genius (or thought leader) is "the ability to make fine distinctions". Think about it!

(2) Avoid thinking or expressing of oneself in rigid immutable terms (e.g. ‘‘I am no good at this or that’’ or ‘‘I am not attractive’’).

- Learn to replace 'certainty' words with 'possibility' words in your daily conversation, e.g ‘‘is’’ & ‘‘am’’ should be replaced with ‘‘may be’’ & ‘‘could be’’.

- Also, I strongly suggest that, in order to give precise commands to your brain, avoid using ambiguous or confusing words, like 'I will try . . ." or 'I hope to . . .' ; instead, say 'I plan to . . .';

[Remember, in the Star Wars movie, 'The Empire Strikes Back', Master Yoda responded to Luke Skywalker, as part of the latter's Jedi Knight training: "Try? There's no try; Do or Do Not!".

By the way, 'hope' is for people who are hopeless!];

According to the two authors, the very act of 'possibility thinking' truly opens up a maelstrom of possibilities far beyond one's current perceptions or interpretations. This, in turn, creates mindfulness to more opportunities for personal transformation.

(3) Contemplate puzzles & paradoxes:

Life is full of puzzles & paradoxes. There are many grey areas, so to speak.

Hence, actively thinking about grey areas increase one’s ability to tolerate ambiguity (& decreases the anxiety associated with uncertainty).

Interestingly, novelist F Scott Fitzgerald once said:

"Let me make a general observation . . . the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, & still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless & yet be determined to make them otherwise."

(4) Add humor & laughter to the situation:

Humor forces people to see a new & unexpected side to a given situation.

Have you ever watched any of the 'Jack Benny' or 'Jerry Seinfeld' sitcoms?

Have you ever laughed at yourself?

I strongly feel that sometimes it's really good to make a fool of yourself for a change.

(5) View the situation from multiple perspectives:

One way to become more mindful is to try to view problems from the perspective of different characters. This may include the perspective of others involved in the situation (if appropriate, the humorous perspectives of fictional observers, such as Superman or TMNT).

As creativity guru Edward de bono has often argued, the practice of multiple perceptions as well as maintaining the fluidity of perception allow you to see many alternatives to a problem.

(6) Consider alternative understandings of the problem:

- Think about 'how many ways can the problem be viewed as useful?';

- Think about 'in what contexts could the problem be considered beneficial?';

According to the two authors, the difference between an ordeal & an adventure may be in how one looks at it.

In fact, success coach Stephen Covey has once said in no uncertain terms:

'The way you see the problem is the problem."

(7) Examine both the positive & negative events in your life:

- I always believe that your moments of joy will keep you going, because you know what had worked, while your moments of setback will keep you in perspective, because you know what didn't work:

- consider moments of setback as learning experiences, & use them as springboards for making corrections;

According to biomedical venture capitalist Peter Kash, when a negative is multiplied with another negative, the end result you get is a positive.

(8) Start a mindfulness journal:

- Make a point to begin or end each day by writing down the significant events of the day;

- Look back on the events with the purpose of observing new things & new perspectives about them;

- Practice at mindfully viewing events & situations in retrospect to seek out valuable lessons;

According to the two authors, keeping a journal also helps you to observe the continuity & direction in your life;

A quick note from my good buddy, who writes a great weblog on financial modeling as well as gastronomical explorations, "expressive writing is supposed to be cathartic & good for the soul".

THE JOY OF MINDFUL EATING

I was talking to my gym buddy the other day during snack time, just after our morning gym practice, during which he said that one should always eat slowly - taking small bite sizes of food - in order to really enjoy our everyday eating experience.

That set me thinking, & I have found the following little gem on the net, as part of the CAMP System from http://www.mindfuleating.org/:

"Bringing mindfulness (balance & harmony) to any meal or snack can be difficult. We're not taught to eat this way.

In fact, most of us in our society are very unskilled at eating. Learning to eat the new way - the mindful way - will take time, effort & practice.

But there are some strategies you can use right away to increase your mindfulness skills.

The STOP Method is one such strategy. To use it is to Stop for Mindfulness.

With the STOP Method, you practice mindful eating for the first four bites of any meal or snack.

This is early mind training, ideal for someone just starting out with mindful eating.

The STOP Method will help to set the stage for more serious mindfulness work in the future.

The term STOP stands for Savor, Travel, Observe & Pause."

Here's the link to more details regarding the STOP Method.

I WHO HAVE NOTHING . . .

I remember vividly during the seventies an aging contestant by the name of T F Tan who took part in the Talentime (organised by the precursor to today's MediaCorp Studio) & eventually won the top prize.

He sang the Shirley Bassey's classic, 'I Who Have Nothing', & then gave away his prize money to charity. I was really touched by his energetic singing as well as his magnificent gesture.

The recent Sunday Times report, under the caption, 'I Who Have Nothing', with reference to the visiting British-born Buddhist monk, Venerable Ajahn Brahmavamso Mahathera, better known as Ajahn Brahms in religious circles, has somehow jolted my memory of T F Tan.

Interestingly, Ajahn Brahms has declared himself "one person in the world who's completely immune to the economic slowdown".

He does not carry a single penny, has no mobile phone or MP3 player. He has no radio, Internet access or TV at his monastery set across 97 ha of rolling hills in Serpentine, Western Australia.

He sleeps on the floor & has one meal a day from his alms bowl.

Yet he travels up to ten times or more a year to speak at mental health seminars, human resource conferences & meditation meetings all over the world.

He does however carry a small clock just to make sure he doesn't miss the plane. That, & a little bag that carries his toothpaste, razor & passport.

More amazingly, he has built his monastery from scratch, while learning & picking up building & construction skills along the way.

To me, he is really a very good role model for all religious leaders.

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"Everyone will get old & die. I think we all know this but we just don't believe it. Old is a state of mind. If you keep wanting to learn new things about yourself & the world
then you look forward to aging instead of always fighting something that is going to happen."

~ James Figueira, 44, Hawaii-born yogi, who is currently in Singapore in conjuction with the Sun Festival;

Thursday, October 16, 2008

HUSTLERS ABOUND

Counsellor & family therapist Anthony Yeo, as President of the Association of Marital & Family Therapy (Singapore), certainly brings up a very pertinent issue in the Forum page of today's issue of the Straits Times.

He is referring to the 'Lessons in Love' workshops conducted by Dr Pat Love & sponsored by the Social Development Unit (SDU).

His valid point is that, Dr Pat Love, who is married three times, all of which ended up in divorce, certainly does not qualify as a good role model to our younger generation.

As he said:

"It is intriguing that such a personality is invited as a speaker on marriage to teach our young about maintaining love in marriage when she could not sustain her own marriages.

We must acknowledge that inevitability that teachers on any subject tend to be viewed as role models, which presents a dilemma as to whether we well tell our young that marriage is not meant to last."

I fully concur with you, Anthony.

At this juncture, I really like to bring immediate attention to another type of Western speakers who come to town to offer "get rich" schemes to Singaporeans.

I have read from the net, especially online forums, that many of these so-called financial whiz-kids or savvy investors or Internet marketers do not actually make all the profits based on the advertised methods they preach, but more from the rampant sales of their books & seminars.

Remember the Latin expression, caveat emptor - another way to say, buyers beware - or else you will "get laid".

To bamboozle someone out of their money is an age-old ruse, & hustlers abound!

SURFING THE NET IS GOOD FOR YOU!

Good News!

Surfing the net is good for you, especially the older folks to help keep their minds sharp through decision making & complex reasoing, according to researchers at the University of California, as reported in today's issue of the Straits Times.

The researchers said that the Internet's wealth of choices requires that people make decisions about what to click on in order to get the relevant information.

A few months ago I have read a report in the May 2008 issue of Scientific American that blogging is good for you.

In fact, scientists (& writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing, especially when one expresses about personal experiences, thoughts & feelings.

But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits.

Here's the link to the report.

Looks like I am on the right track. I surf the net & blog every day, in addition to reading & reviewing books.

I have always considered these disciplined routines of mine as deliberate acts of keeping my mind physically as well as intellectually active.

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"In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognise a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman."

~ David Ogilvy, 1911–1999; American advertising wizard, often been called “The Father of Advertising; known for a career of expanding the bounds of both creativity & morality.

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

Do I know what I am really worth?

Can I explain my true value to my clients?

~ inspired by the work of Gerald Sindell, President of Thought Leaders International; he is also the inventor of the Endleofon innovation process, which will be explained in his forthcoming debut book, 'The Genius Machine' (to be released at the end of this year or early next year);

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

THE FIFTY SUCCESS HABITS

I have been quite impressed by what multi-talented - motivational speaker, television host, author, exercise scientist, radio presenter & educator - Craig Harper has done.

He apparently took a cue from Stephen Covey, & wrote a post in an attempt to give a quick review of all the powerful habits ever written in practically every self help book.

As he said in his own words:

"I figured that maybe I could take the important lessons from every self-help book I've read and every life experience I've endured, condense all that into fifty key points and save everybody a whole bunch of reading time. Sure, global book sales in the self-help field might take a down-turn for a decade or so, but I'm willing to take that chance and put in a solid sixty minutes (or so) work for the good of humanity; my gift to mankind."

Here's the link to his post on the 50 success habits.

WHEN YOU RUN SMACK INTO A BRICK WALL . . .

In the 'Deep Seer Blog for Dolphins', the authors of two great books on accelerated self-growth, 'Strategy of the Dolphin: Scoring a Win in a Chaotic World' & 'Code of the Monarch: A Guide to the Real Global Business Revolution', Dudley Lynch & Paul Kordis offer their expert views on happenings in today's swift-changing world.

I particularly like their recent (joint) response - with superb advice &/or suggestions - to a query from a client who has "hit a brick wall & wants answers that cut to the chase".

You can read about it at this link.

SWIMMING WITH THE DOLPHINS, FROM DR PAUL KORDIS

From the 'Radical Change Group: Change Architects Enabling Sensible Changes' comes an audio MP3 recording of an insightful & yet intriguing conversation with Dr Paul Kordis.

He is a co-author (with Dudley Lynch) of the great books on accelerated self-growth, 'The Strategy of the Dolphin: Scoring a Win in a Chaotic World', which has become a best seller, & 'Code of the Monarch: A Guide to the Real Global Business Revolution'.

He is also the author (with his wife, Susan) of the book 'Name Your Passion: A User’s Guide to Finding Your Personal Purpose', which I have reviewed in an earlier post.

Here's the download link to Part I & Part II of the recording.

I am fascinated by his insights (or generalised principles):

- our default mode is entropy; it requires effort to go in syntropic way;

- modeling yourself at your very best instead of others, i.e. start off from your own uniqueness;

- how one handles novelty determines other dimensions;

- we need to expand our sphere of perception (knowing the problem first) as well as our sphere of influence (in spiritual & ethical terms);

- If we study any discipline deep enough, we come to the same conclusions;

[For more information, please read the gist for Part I & Part II.]

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

Does humanity have a chance to survive lastingly & successfully on planet Earth, & if so, how?

~ from R Buckminster Fuller;

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"There is No Energy Shortage . . . There is No Energy Crisis . . . There is a Crisis of Ignorance."

~ R Buckminster Fuller, 1895-1983, inventor of the geodesic dome & planet Earth's friendly genius;

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

Where will I be in ten years from now & how can I tell?

SPOTLIGHT: E=MC2

I have spotted this latest song album, E=MC2, from best-selling pop artist Mariah Carey on Amazon. It has in fact been released in April this year.

Although the album title is obviously a play on Einstein's famous mass-energy equivalence formula, I understand from physicist Kaca Bradonjic at Boston University that the mood of a piece of music depends on the relative velocities of the audience and the performers.

I am no physicist. So, I am going to leave it to you to find out more about music & relativity.

INTELLIGENCE: AN INTERESTING VIEWPOINT

I have found this little gem about intelligence on the net with the aid of Google Alert. It came from the Live Journal post of Little Miss Sunshivavna from Brooklyn, New York.

". . . Personally I think that intelligence is first and foremost the ability to connect seemingly unconnected ( or not too obviously connected) things.

To posses that ability one must have the nose to sniff out patterns, recognition being the first step, and the willpower to resist categorization, which is essential to connectivity. That in itself is a paradox worth examining.

Pattern recognition is after all a classification process and its complete abandonment is more akin to mental retardation than surplus.

What I mean by resisting categorization is placing new information on top of boxes rather than inside of them, in such so that all information remains fully visible and shuffle-friendly at all times.

When information is not restrained or "boxed-in" as I like to say, it is free to roam about our brains in an organic way.

Here the different pieces collide, connect, and ultimately produce conclusions, solutions, and new ideas - the practical application of intelligence.

For some reason or other not everyone's thoughts are that mobile.

Additionally, there is a great disparage in the speed with which our thoughts travel, and ultimately find one another.

To be sharp is to make those connections quicker than your average folks. I don't think that open-mindness is the reason. Perhaps most of us are just not wired in such a way.

. . . Of course, the more information you hold in your head, the more possibilities, and so random bits of knowledge are the indispensable tools in our arsenals with which we formulate new ideas. Intelligence is the process by which it takes place.

The ability to interpret an unknown, a universal yardstick of intellect, is the ability to plug it into all of that which is already know to you - and the further back you can scale from the trivial associations the smarter.

Knowledge ( in whatever the form) is the raw ingredients, intelligence is the process by which you mix them in a bowl, and the end-product of that is your cake."

[Here's the link to the original post.]

NOSTALGIA: SAND DUNE


I have taken the liberty of lifting off this beautiful photo of a sand dune in Morocco from Wikipedia.

It certainly reminds me of what I had actually experienced during my holiday trip to Tunisia, North Africa, with Catherine during the late eighties, while travelling on four wheels along the northern edge of the Sahara Desert.

Visually, I was mesmerised by the majestic panorama of the vast desert at sunrise, & yet I could feel, deep inside my heart, the harsh reality of a hostile environment.

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"There is in all things a pattern that is part of our universe. It has symmetry, elegance, & grace - those qualities you find always in that which the true artist captures. You can find it in the turning of the seasons, in the way the sand trails along a ridge, in the branch clusters of the creosote bush or the pattern of its leaves. We try to copy these patterns in our lives & our society, seeking the rhythms, the dances, the forms that comfort. Yet it is possible to see the peril in the finding of ultimate perfection. It is clear that the ultimate pattern contains its own fixity. In such perfection, all things move toward death."

~ from "The Collected Sayings of Muad'Dib" by the Princess Irulan (The Dune Novels, by Frank Herbert);

BE PROACTIVE, ANTICIPATE CHANGES

I am gratified to read the following news:

Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister (also Coordinating Minister for National Security) S Jayakumar said on Monday, at a symposium, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of risk assessment & horizon scanning to address challenges in an increasingly complex & uncertain environment:

"It is useful not just in the traditional security domains, but also help a networked government to think systematically about issues involving economic & financial conditions . . . More recently, we have also been reminded of how uncertain & inter-connected the world is today by issues such as global warming, the sub-prime mortgage crisis, rising oil & commodities prices, food shortages & collapse of financial institutions."

According to him, Singapore has embarked on risk assessment & horizon scanning in 2005, & now it has an active outreach program with the three local universities.

This endeavour has helped to expose the country's next generation students to strategic anticipation & scenario planning.

The program has been used by university students to analyze the supply chain for agricultural commodities at the Singapore Management University (SMU), the Asian Financial Crisis at the National University of Singapore (NUS), & global food and multi-lateral security issues at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

DPM Jayakumar pointed out further in the symposium that "it is no longer enough for policy-makers to just do passive scenario planning; they need to proactively collect & analyse 'weak signals & wild cards' emanating from sources ranging from online forums to blogs, so they can 'anticipate & be prepared for a range of possible futures'."

Keep it up, Singapore!

[Here's the link to DPM Jayakumar's full address at the symposium.]

Monday, October 13, 2008

BEAUTY AS IT CROSSES MY MIND

All I know, ever since I was young teenager, is that, 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder', from the context of a boy-girl relationship.

So, as I think about this phrase for some strange reason, something else just strikes my fancy as well as crosses my mind at this very moment.

On Saturday night, I was watching the sci-fi movie, 'Next', starring Nicolas Cage, as Cris Johnson, a small-time magician with the ability to see the future, on the run from FBI agents, who were determined to get him to help in neutralising some crazy terrorists with nuclear devices.

In one particular scene, opposite his love interest in the movie, played by Jessica Biel, he said to her:

"There’s an Italian painter, named Carlotti, & he defined beauty . . . He said it was the summation of the parts, working together in such a way that nothing needed to be added, taken away, or altered, & that's you, you’re beautiful."

Wow!

That reminds me of an apt quotation attributed to R Buckminster Fuller, planet Earth's friendly genius & inventor of the geodesic dome, as follows:

“When I’m working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.”

Great minds often see things differently, especially when appreciating beauty is concerned.

AUTHORING YOUR LIFE

Here's a link to an interesting article by Chuck Gallozzi.

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"Life is raw material. We are artisans. We can sculpt our existence into something beautiful, or debase it into ugliness. It's in our hands."

~ Cathy Better, American author & artist;

SYNCHRONICITY: A PERSONAL CO-INCIDENT ENCOUNTER

For me, synchronicity is always a very fascinating phenomenon. It's often associated with paranormal.

I am not a scholar, & neither am I a scientist. So I am not going to write an intellectual discourse here, but just want to share a very personal experience, just to show synchronicity exists, as far as I am concerned.

Recently, out of the blue, a long-lost buddy of mine wrote me an email. According to him, let's call him 'Tian', one of his business associates had casually mentioned about something the latter had picked out of my weblog. He recalled my name, & did a web search, which then led him to write to me.

Earlier, he has somehow bumped into another mutual buddy, also long-lost for the same amount of time, let's call him 'Andrew', & emailed the latter about the discovery.

Then, we all got linked up by email, & I suggested a meeting to catch-up with good old times.

Since it was Hari Raya season, 'Andrew', being a Muslim, invited two of us to meet up at his place last Saturday afternoon.

It was really nice to catch up with each other after eighteen years or so.

Looking at the whole thing, there seems to be a rather strange aspect, which is worth mentioning here too.

Both are employees in senior positions with relatively large business outfits. 'Tian' is into "projects", & 'Andrew' is into "logistics".

Among the two where they work, there appears to be some sort of an indirect linkage, with even resource sharing, which both didn't realise at first until their recent email exchange.

More interestingly, the workplaces of 'Tian' & 'Andrew' & my home place are within very short driving distance, about 5 minutes.

So near, & yet so far, as it has taken us almost 18 years to get together.

Going back in time, 'Tian' & 'Andrew' were my subordinates for about two years during the early nineties when we were working with an Indonesian group. We have had a great time together.

At that time, 'Tian' was in charge of "special projects", while 'Andrew' looked after "administration".

Surprisingly (& coincidentally?), we had decided to leave the Indonesian group together to form 'Optimum Performance Technologies' at the end of 1991, but the two eventually left after a very short association with me, to pursue their own personal interests. The parting was amicable, & we did not meet up since then.

At the Saturday gathering, one of 'Andrew''s daughters took a photo of three of us, with the aid of my Canon IXUS digital camera. I have told them earlier that I still hold an old photo of three of us, which was taken on the last few days of our stint with the Indonesian group.

On Saturday night, I have mailed them both the new photo & the old photo, so that they can compare.

'Tian' has written back with the comment "Let's console ourselves that we are older, fatter but wiser," & has suggested that we should take a photo after another 18 years from now.

'Andrew' has also written back with the comment that we should take a photo every year, as 18 years would be too long.

Frankly, I cannot explain exactly why I have been keeping that old photo with me for so long.

Originally, I have planned to display both photos in this post, but because both 'Tian' & 'Andrew' are still working in the corporate world, & in order to avoid any potential sensitivity that may unwittingly affect them, I have decided otherwise.

Anyway, my focus in this post is about a personal co-incident encounter. It's synchronicity, for those who are familiar with fancy terms.

There seems to be a greater force out there that somehow dictates three of us to meet again. May even be something for us to do together in the not-too-distant future, one more time.

Who knows?

INFLUENCES, IMPACTS & LESSONS FROM MY BOSSES OF THE PAST II

[continue from the Last Post]

Earlier, I have written about my first job as a mechanical draftsman with the Singapore Design & Drafting Office of Buhler Brothers Engineering Works of Uzwil, Switzerland.

Besides honing my design & drafting skills at the company, I must add that, for me, the most enduring reward from my employment with the company was meeting Catherine at my workplace.

Catherine was then a stenographer on a brief temporary assignment contracted by my employer from Joan Tooke's Agency.

She had some problems with the dictation machine, especially deciphering the English spoken with a heavy Swiss accent, & I just happened to be around to help her resolved them.

Our first date was some drinks at the old Koek Lane (now stands the Centrepoint shopping mall) & a 1.30pm movie at the old Orchard Cinema (now replaced by the Orchard Cineleisureplex).

The movie was 'Mercenaries', starring Rod Taylor & Jim Brown.

As I was then a young struggling draftsman, I could only afford to invite her to the front rows of the cinema, at S$1/- per pax.

To my great delight, that initial cheapskate encounter didn't deter her from subsequent dates with me, which eventually evolved into a very close relationship, which had spanned almost two-thirds of my life - 35 years to be exact, with 18 years as husband & wife - until she passed away suddenly on 31st December 2001.

Looking back with fondness, I reckon I have to thank Mr Hans Rey, Managing Director of Buhler Brothers, for giving me a job in the first place, in spite of my lack of industrial working experience, & also for creating unwittingly an unforgettable opportunity to meet Catherine.

Synchronicity? Preordained? I really don't know. All I know - & really care about - is that I have had a superb & wonderful time with Catherine.

During my toughest years as a corporate rat, & also when I had ventured out in the early nineties as a small entrepreneur, she was my awesome inspiration & unwavering stalwart, emotionally, spiritually & also financially.

I will always cherish the sweet memories of Buhler Brothers, especially Mr Hans Rey, &, more importantly, of Catherine.

[to be continued in the Next Post]

WINDOW SHOPPING AS A NOVELTY EXPERIENCE

My wife & I enjoy our forays into window-shopping at the shopping malls.

Besides Jurong Point & IMM Jurong East, our regular shopping joints are Vivo City & Orchard Road. Once in a blue moon, we also pop into far-away places like Woodlands, Tampines & Ang Mo Kio.

We also cover quirky places like Arab Street, Chinatown, Far East Plaza, & Queensway.

We prefer to go on weekdays, & usually avoid weekends, although sometimes we break our own rules, just for the fun of it.

Actually, window shopping gives both of us a good excuse to break away from spending too much time on the computer. I have my own DELL desktop, while wife has her own DELL Inspiron laptop.

We often spend our afternoon time after gym practice surfing the net. I also spend time blogging, in addition to reading & reviewing books, while my wife spends more of her time reading news & novels off the net. Depending on her mood, occasionally she settles down to do her clay flower arrangements.

I reckon, window-shopping is definitely good for the eyes, as there are abundant stimuli.

We also get the chance to see the real world, to see & feel what's out there, to feel the pulse of life, to get in touch with people, often under stimulating circumstances.

It's great for our physical bodies too, as they are already hard-wired to move. Not sit still.

Walking exercise - even though it is a leisurely stroll under air-conditioned comfort - is definitely an added benefit.

With the incessant onslaught of random & varied stimuli, our brains get a workout of some sort too from the novelty experience.

That's why I always carry a pocket note-book with me, plus my trusty hand-phone camera N93. I don't want to miss all the fleeting moments of inspiration.

Occasionally, I do take my Canon IXUS digital camera along. I love to capture what strikes my fancy, especially at the spur of the moment.

As we walk from mall to mall within the vicinity, we also get exposed to a myriad of bustling sounds & irritating noises from both mechanised & human traffic.

Some shopping malls have great ambient music to keep shoppers in receptive mood. Some have those horrendous music, which sometimes drive me bonkers. I simply can't stand those anapaestic music beats.

Strangely enough, I just wonder why shopping malls don't play the classics.

Is it because classics may evoke intellectual or rational responses, which may impede or stultify emotional responses from shoppers?

Another novelty experience comes from the olfactory encounters with bakeries e.g. freshly-baked bread or pastries from BreakTalk, chocolate biscuits from Famous Amos, not forgetting all the usual designer or fancy coffee joints.

I don't know about you, but for me, just smelling the aroma alone really makes me feel good.

Under such conditions, it's always tempting time for gastronomical satisfaction!

My wife loves to browse the boutiques & stores. She has a knack for smelling good buys - cheap & nice.

She has recently found a pair of Nike shoe at the Talking Hall of Takashimaya in Ngee Ann City for only S$49/- to replace her old Adidas pair. Her gym buddies were envious of her good buy.

I normally like to browse the sports good stores &, of course, the book &/or stationery stores, if any. Besides books, I have a particular soft spot for writing instruments.

[I just noticed recently that Nike is coming up soon with their largest concept store in town, to be located at Wisma Atria. Interestingly, I also notice that, where there is Nike store, Adidas store is never too far away.]

In the stationery store, I notice that just fiddling the pens with my fingers - that touchy-feely kind of experience - makes me feel good.

Even though we go out window-shopping very often, at least once a week, we don't often end up buying stuff all the time. Both of us have agreed on a common policy: we only buy what we need, not what we want.

99% of the time, we go after "discount sales".

I know shopping can be quite an emotional experience, but I guess both my wife & I are pretty rational in our choices.

Luckily, in a way, & since I have already gone through the hard knocks of life, & my wife, having been brought up in a very large but poor family, we have now embraced a prudent lifestyle.

In that respect, we are quite thrifty. In fact, we already have most of what we really need at home.

I have come to realise that, another rewarding experience from our regular window shopping adventures is the wonderful opportunity to talk shop with sales personnel as well as other fellow shoppers, including tourists.

At least, once in a while, we get the chance to understand & appreciate other people's views about life in Singapore & the world in general.

I therefore like to treat window shopping, with all its attendant multi-sensory impressions, as a novelty experience for the mind & body.

MEMORABLE QUOTE FROM THE MOVIES


"Here is the thing about the future. Every time you look at, it changes, because you looked at it, & that changes everything."

~ Cris Johnson (played by Nicolas Cage) in the sci-fi action movie, 'Next'; he played a small-time magician, who had the ability to the see the future, on the run from pursuing FBI agents, who were determined to get his help to neutralise some crazy terrorists with nuclear devices;

Sunday, October 12, 2008

SPOTLIGHT: DIN TAI FUNG RESTAURANT

After all the heavy walking & window-shopping at Wisma Atria - my wife & I have actually started at about 1.30pm from Paragon Shopping Centre & passed through Takashimaya Departmental Store in Ngee Ann City along the way - we finally decided at about 5pm to have a quick snack of steamed dumplings & hand-made noodles at the Din Tai Fung noodle house.

The restaurant chain, which originates in Taiwan, has been voted by New York Times as one of the World's Top Ten Best Restaurants.

To be frank, even though I am not a food connoisseur, my gustatory sense has often nudged me that the steamed dumplings & hand-made noodles at Crystal Jade restaurant chain somehow taste much better!

Nevertheless, if you are interested, you can read more about - as well as access more pictures of - Din Tai Fung at this link.

SPOTLIGHT: "Pain is temporary . . ."

Another dose of awesome inspiration from Lance Armstrong!
These snapshots have been taken just outside a spectacles retail shop in Wisma Atria on Orchard Road this afternoon. The shop retails sun glasses from Oakley. They are expensive stuff.

SPOTLIGHT: NUDE RESTAURANT

Intrigued by the fancy name while passing by, I have taken this snapshot of the Nude Restaurant at Wisma Atria on Orchard Road this afternoon.

You can read about it at this link.

SPOTLIGHT: James Bond's Choice

This snapshot of my favourite secret agent 007 says it all!

Even he has to execise the power of choice.

SPOTLIGHT: 'I Want Your Flex!'

I probably have been thinking about 'mental flexibility' at the back of my head, while taking this snapshot just outside the Lee Cooper jeans retail shop at Wisma Atria on Orchard Road.

SPOTLIGHT: "The Grass Is Always Greener On This Side"

I have spotted this apt sign post just behind the glass panel of the shopfront of Hula & Co clothing boutique, while window-shopping with my wife at Wisma Atria on Orchard Road this afternoon.

I thought the sign post has certainly served its purpose as it attracted many window shoppers, including my wife, to step inside the shop to browse.

"WE GOT MIXED UP!" A QUICK LESSON IN DELETION, DISTORTION & GENERALISATION

A buddy of mine, who has a penchant for collecting jokes from all over the world, has sent me the following story. [I have taken the liberty to make some minor changes because of spelling errors.]

It's likely to tickle your funny bone for a change, but more importantly, I thought it would serve as a fun illustration to show our brain's natural propensity to "distort" &/or "delete" &/or "generalise" our perspective of the world.

A young monk arrives at the monastery. He is assigned to helping the other monks in copying the old canons & laws by hand.

He notices, however, that all of the monks are copying from copies, not from the original manuscript.

So, the new monk goes to the head monk to question this. He points out that if someone had made even a small error in the first copy, it would never be picked up! In fact, that error would be continued in all of the subsequent copies.

The head monk, says, "We have been copying from the copies for centuries, but you make a good point, my son."

He goes down into the dark caves underneath the monastery where the original manuscripts are held as archives in a locked vault, which hasn't been opened for hundreds of years.

Hours go by & nobody sees the old monk. So, the young monk gets worried & goes down to look for him. He sees him banging his head against the wall & wailing:

"We got mixed up! We got mixed up! We got mixed up!"

His forehead is all bloody & bruised, & he is crying uncontrollably.

The young monk asks the old monk, "What's wrong, Father?"

With a choking voice, the old monk replies: "The original word in the manuscript is C E L E B R A T E."

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"The cleverest of all, in my opinion, is the man who will calls himself a fool at least once a month."

"Innovators & men of genius have almost always been regarded as fools at the beginning (& very often at the end) of their careers."

~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1821-1881, Russian author whose works often combine religious mysticism with profound psychological insights;