Saturday, April 25, 2009

VISIMAP GALLERY: THE PHOENIX CHECKLIST

[continue from the First Post.]


This is a quick & simple map - done with the aid of VisiMap Pro software - of the 'Phoenix Checklist for Problem Solving', which I have already described at length in an earlier post. The map comes from my personal collection, which dates back to my early years of exploration.

[More information about VisiMap Pro is available at this link.]

VISIMAP GALLERY: TAPPING YOUR CREATIVITY

[continue from the First Post.]


The above is a quick map - with the aid of VisiMap Pro software - of the key ideas from the video, entitled 'Tapping Your Creativity", produced by the American Management Association. The map comes from my personal collection, which dates back to my early years of exploration.

[More information about VisiMap Pro is available at this link.]

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"The fruits of a fulfilling life - happiness, confidence, enthusiasm, purpose, and money - are mainly by-products of doing something we enjoy, with excellence, rather than things we can seek directly."

~ Dan Miller, life coach & author, 'No More Mondays: Fire Yourself - and Other Revolutionary Ways to Discover Your True Calling at Work' & '48 Days to the Work You Love';

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

Who am I that thinks?

Why am I?

What is my purpose?

What is the purpose of anything?

What will become of me when I die?

~ inspired by the AVATAR tools [you can read about the training & acquisition of these tools at this link; please approach them with an open mind! Like the umbrella, the mind functions best when open!]

Friday, April 24, 2009

MAKING SCRATCHPAD NOTES



Making scratchpad notes is a daily disciplined habit of mine. Whenever I come across something intriguing or interesting from my reading or observation or conversation, I will capture the information in my scratchpad.

Naturally, the scratchpads also capture my seemingly irrelevant doodlings, jottings & musings.

Some of the important stuff from the scratchpads are generally transcribed into maps on MindManager Pro, or VisiMap Pro, or SmartDraw Pro, or Inspiration, depending on how the information needs to be organised. They then become springboards for further mental exploration.

They also provide incessant opportunities of "intersectional moments of AhA", so to speak.

Over the years, I have gathered a vast collection of scratchpads.

From time to time, I will take them out for quick browsing. Invariably, I always get new perspectives or fresh angles of view, as I reread the information captured in the scratchpads.

All the important information captured in the maps of mapping softwares are quicker & easier to locate, especially with the aid of the Copernic Desktop Search tool.

During my early years of exploration, the scratchpads came in the form of Bienfang NoteSketch. Today, I am using mostly sketch books of A4 as well as A3 size.

The scratchpads also function as my memory joggers e.g. "tasks to do" for the day or week. Sometimes, they are used to record software error messages when I encounter them.






TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)


"Take advantage of the ambiguity in the world. Look at something & think about what else it might be."

~ creativity consultant Roger von oech; also author of 'A Whack on the Side of the Head' & 'A Kick in the Seat of the Pants', among many other wonderful creativity stuff;

[Please refer to my earlier post about his many creativity stuff. More information about him & his work is available at this link.]

VISIMAP GALLERY: SCAMPER TECHNIQUE

[continue from the First Post.]



This is a quick map of the SCAMPER technique using the VisiMap Pro software. The map comes from my personal collection, which dates back to my early years of exploration.

[The SCAMPER technique is also described in my earlier post. More information about VisiMap Pro is available from this link.]

VISIMAP GALLERY: CREATIVE WHACKS



Prior to using the MindManager Pro software during the mid-nineties, I had been using the VisiMap Pro software from UK for quite a while.

In fact, I am still using it from time to time, because I really like its simplicity. Also, its speed of generating the idea branches. Hence, it's great for capturing information on the fly or doing a instantaneous brain dump.

Comparing with MindManager Pro, working with VisiMap Pro always has that 'no-frills' feel, at least from my perspective.

I must admit that, feature-wise, VisiMap Pro is no match for MindManager Pro, but it does serve its original intent & purpose as a practical tool for mapping ideas.

The foregoing quick map, outlining the 'Creative Whacks', based on the work of creativity consultant Roger von oech, had been generated by me during the early nineties with VisiMap.

It is a vital part of my personal collection of maps, which dates back to my early years of exploration.

So, I will take the opportunity to share with readers many of my quick maps with VisiMap - I have a vast collection - from my early years of exploration, covering a broad variety of topics [from my project portfolio of 'Learning from the Masters'] in subsequent posts.

[More information about VisiMap Pro is available from this link.]

Thursday, April 23, 2009

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)


"You see positive things do not come by nature. For positive things we have to make an effort ... for a happier future, if that is our wish. It is our responsibility.

~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama;

MY PRIME DOLPHIN WORLDVIEW SURVEY REPORT

According to the Yo!Dolphin! Worldview Survey, created by Dudley Lynch of Brain Technologies Corporation:

"I am a Prime Dolphin thinker by nature, and I believe in potential abundance and potential scarcity. That is, I believe that we can have either—it is our choice. And I believe that we can learn to leverage what we have and can use our resources strategically and elegantly. Therefore, I make flexibility, innovating and doing more with less the cornerstones of how I create my world. Above all, I have little patience with or use for localities, organizations or individuals that are clearly and frequently dysfunctional. And I have even less tolerance for persons and entities that are ethically challenged and indifferent to people's real needs and fair share. I like new ideas, tools, technologies and opportunities, especially if they will help me solve difficult problems and produce breakthrough outcomes with win/win results."

If you are interested in securing one for yourself, you can go to this link.

[Dudley Lynch, thinkologist, founder & president of Brain Technologies Corporation, is also the author of 'The Mother of All Minds' & 'The Strategy of the Dolphin' (with Paul Kordis), among many other great books on accelerated self-growth. I read his first book, 'Your High Performance Business Brain, an Operator's Manual', now out of print, way back in the mid-eighties.]

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)


"When something needs to be done, the pain is in not doing it."


~ Dudley Lynch, thinkologist, founder & CEO of Brain Technologies; also author of classics on accelerated self-growth, 'The Mother of All Minds' & 'The Strategy of the Dolphin', among many others;

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

SPOTLIGHT: SEX LIFE


While romping through the Bugis Village last week with my wife & her female school buddies from Vietnam, I had spotted this little retail outlet that sells all those kinky toys & fantasy gizmos for liberated men & women.

No big deal actually. I was not so much intrigued by the English signboard name 'Sex Life', but to me, the Chinese signboard name was a really apt translation.

Yes, the first Chinese character means 'Sex' - that's correct, but in combining with the second character, the phrase in Chinese also means, at least from the standpoint of phonetics, "something that piques one's interest".

Of course, one can possibly still argue that the Chinese phrase, comprising the two characters, means "sexual interest".

Nonetheless, I still could not figure out why the window label read "ConSexShop", but the Chinese equivalent made sense.

Anyway, either way we look at it, I reckon for most people, including yours truly, sex is always a very personal as well as hotly sensational phenomenon.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)


"Young musicians sometimes whine, 'Why didn't I get this?. Life is tough. Get on with it!"

~ Singapore's celebrated globe-trotting violinist Siow Lee Chin, 43, reflecting on her do-it-yourself attitude to create the opportunities she has had; as a gifted young musician, she became the first Singaporean to be admitted to the prestigious Curtin Institute of Music in United States; also the first Singaporean to join the faculty of Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the oldest conservatory in the United States;

[Source: Straits Times' 'The Monday Interview']

SINGAPORE, A FINE CITY

Early yesterday morning, together with my wife, I had sent off her three female school buddies from Vietnam at the Budget Terminal. They had earlier spent six days/five nights of holidaying in Singapore. For lodging, they were put up in my residence. It was the first time that they had visited Singapore.

Despite the short stay, they apparently had a jolly great time - visiting tourist attractions, tasting local cuisine, & of course, joining all the Singaporean hardcore shopaholics in their favourite weekend pursuits.

I was their tour guide, photographer, as well as chauffeur for some destinations on the island. Most of the time, we took the bus & MRT. They were very impressed with the public transport system in Singapore.

We had a morning walking tour of old Raffles Hotel, the famed 'Chopsticks' war memorial, the Esplanade, the Theatres on the Bay, the Merlion Park, & the Lau Pa Sat festival market. With a short ride by bus from the last point, we continued to walk through the Bugis Village, including a mandatory visit to the nearby Chinese temple.

Major attractions during their visit included the world-acclaimed Singapore Zoo & the Jurong Bird Park, with an evening on Sentosa Island, to watch the spectacular 'Songs of the Sea' - with captivating music & stunning pyrotechnics, water jets, laser beams, computer imaging, fire & flame bursts.







For the best of local cuisine, they got the opportunity to savour fish-head curry, 'bak kut teh' (herbal pork-ribs soup) with deep-fried dough fritters, BBQ seafood (stingray, squids, catfish), claypot frog legs & porridge (in Chinatown), 'kway chap' (flat rice noodles, served in light soya sauce soup with fatty pork, pig's innards, fried beancurd, braised eggs & other side dishes like salted vegetables), roasted duck, Hainanese-style toasted bread with butter & kaya jam (at Beach Road/Purvis Street junction), Shanghainese noodles & 'siao long pau' (meat dumplings) at the Crystal Jade Kitchen in Jurong Point shopping mall.





My wife & I also hosted a grand steam-boat dinner with live flower crabs, prawns & mussels (from the neighbourhood Sheng Siong supermarket) for them at our home.

I reckon, as usual for most ladies, the greatest moment of the visit was shopping - luckily, to their delight, bazaar sales & price-slashing bargains were everywhere! (Just imagine a lady's blouse going for S$5/- against its normal retail price of S$49/-) - during which their purses were getting lighter by the last day, but, as I could see, they had no regrets!

Our romp included: Bugis Junction, Bugis Village, City Link Mall (underground), Far East Plaza, Jurong Point, Ngee Ann City, People Park's Complex, Raffles City, & Suntec City.

We even had time to pop into the 24-hour Mustapha Centre on Serangoon Road.





If not for the slight flu bug, the three visitors could have covered a lot more places.

Nonetheless, they had shared some personal insights with my wife - for me, it was proud & comforting to know:

1) They were really surprised that I, as a macho-male, could be bothered to accompany them - all ladies - throughout their stay - visiting attractions, shopping & eating, plus taking photos - something that could never happen in Vietnam;

2) They were truly amazed that I could out-walk them, in spite of my Third Age, without any panting or resting (real credit goes to my daily exercise regime!). The visitors were all in their early forties, just like my wife;

3) Despite the short stay at my place, they had observed me doing my part of the household work - taking care of the laundry, & theirs too - again something that could never happen in Vietnam;



In the end analysis, judging from their frank feedback, Singapore is undoubtedly & uniquely, a fine city, for tourists as well as citizens.

[In a contrasting note, especially with a hint of harsh reality, Singapore is also a fine city.

Whenever you find a nice place on the island that seems to be fine for parking without paying a charge, there is always a fine to go with it.

By the way, chewing gum is still banned on the island. (This unprecedented ruling probably came about following several incidents involving MRT train doors, which were jammed by the sticky stuff.)

Littering & spitting in public places are invariably subjected to heavy fine. If you were unlucky, you might end up with a humiliating public work order.

Smoking is restricted to only a few public places, other than your own homes. Even jaywalking is an offence. Worst still, not flushing public toilets can be a hassle with wandering public health officials.

For motorists, driving into designated bus lanes unwittingly, especially during certain hours of the day, can score a few demerit points against your driving licence, plus you are definitely poorer by S$110/-. Most public buses are fitted with cameras, just in case you are game for dispute.

A tough warning though: Drugs are capital offences, which mean offenders are subject to the death penalty.

Vandalising entails strokes of the cane if you were caught. American bad boy Michael Fey was a classic example many years ago. Even former US President Bill Clinton had to intervene in his court sentencing, but the poor boy still had to endure the whipping experience. A kick in the butt is an understatement.]

Monday, April 20, 2009

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"The event of creation did not take place many eons ago, astronomically or biologically speaking. Creation is taking place every moment of our lives."

~ David Suzuki, 73, Canadian science broadcaster & environmental activist; best known as host of the popular & long-running CBC Television science magazine, 'The Nature of Things', seen in syndication in over forty nations;

PRAGMATIC INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS

"They need to avoid coming at us head-on, and do their own thing better than we do ours."

"I don't care how many Wal-Marts come to town, there are always niches that we can't reach - not that we don't try."

"Swim upstream. Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom."

~ Sam Walton of Wal-Mart fame, in his 1992 autobiography;

[Although Sam Walton gave these strategic pointers from the standpoint of retail supremacy, I hold the view that the concepts, which reflect contrarian thinking, are applicable in most other businesses.]

Sunday, April 19, 2009

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

‘When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.’

— Albert Einstein;

USING THE INTERNET AS AN INTELLECTUAL RESOURCE

Whenever I want to know or learn about something new, I always do a quick search of the Internet with the aid of my old faithful search agent, Copernic Agent Pro. I have used Copernic since the nineties.

I am always impressed by the depth & breadth of Copernic's search capability. Best of all, I am always very happy with what I can find on the Internet. That's to say the Internet is a valuable intellectual resource.

Of course, one needs to be alert & discerning in appraising the searched information.

My simple rule is to do cross-referencing with other disparate authoritative sources of information, published as well as online.

When I find a detailed news report or lengthy article interesting or worth pursuing, I will often download it for printing. When the completed print load reaches about 500 copies, I will sent it to my neighbourhood stationery shop for binding.

In my spare time, I will go through the bound volumes with a fine orange marker & a bunch of sticky notes. The notes I make will become my springboards for further exploration.

Actually, come to think of it, & with the wisdom of hindsight, knowledge acquisition, at least from my personal perspective, is always an endless journey. In fact, it's a life-long skill!

My bound volumes are always categorised by my pet subjects, e.g. "Strategy Formulation", "Creative Problem Solving", "Peak Performance", "Study Skills", "Understanding the Brain", etc.

About two weeks ago, my good friend Dilip Mukerjea sought my personal views with regard to "the dwindling number of nuns" as part of his presentation project to a sisters' order.

Following a quick browse of the Internet - just to get that overall sense of what was happening out there, here were some of my rambling jottings/thoughts/musings/questions, at least from a free-thinker’s perspective - which I had later forwarded for his personal deliberation, as follows:

- An interesting report from the Vatican: the number of members of the consecrated life fell by 10% from 2005 to 2006; the number of Catholic nuns worldwide declined by about a quarter during the reign of Pope John Paul;

- some findings from the American Religion Identification Survey 2008:

self-identified Christians: down 10% in last 18 years (first ARIS survey in 1990); the challenge to Christianity (largest category after Catholics & Baptists) does not come from other religions, but from a rejection of all forms of organised religion – that to me is interesting! Is that a reflection of apathy & indifference or ambivalence about the church nowadays?;

- interesting developments in Singapore: Catholic community, about 200,000; average age of priests/nuns, 55; last ordination of priests nearly 5 years ago, leaving about 100 priests; two sister orders (Good Shepherd, Canon) have not had a candidate to join their ranks;

- the status quo of today’s nuns/sisters:

1) natural attrition or death of elderly nuns/sisters:

[some interesting statistics/information:

total number of nuns/sisters in USA: 180,000+ (1965) to 68,000+ today; average age of seniors, +/- 70; average of younger sisters, 40];

2) increased exodus of dissatisfied or disillusioned [any survey or exit interviews to find out exactly why?; any attempt to woo them back? Or are they treated as “renegades”?];

3) greatly decreasing entry rate of new members [this is now the big problem! Actually, it would be interesting to know how young people perceive the church of today?];

- Factors contributing to the decline of numbers: affluence; materialistic consumerism; secularism, smaller family size, hence family pressures; emancipation of women; woman’s movement, & availability of broader & better career choices;

- Apparently there are also deep-rooted problems: androcentrism for centuries; hierarchical control & institutionalised sexism in the church; lack of women leadership;

- Still unresolved “controversial” issues: church’s zero-tolerance stance on abortion; lack of women in leadership positions in church; view of homosexuality as sin; question of whether or not women should be allowed to become priests; outdated practices &/or principles;

- bad handling of clergy sexual abuse scandal brought extreme anger & frustrations, so not helping to instill confidence;

- Other issues: proliferation of ridiculous rules; perking order; playing favourites; cliques; petty nonsense; suppression & unnecessary suffering in the community; constant humiliation or abuse;

- Extreme conservatism of nun’s or sister’s life may seem wholly counter-cultural for today’s young women (so, how to engage today’s iPod or Facebook generation? How to bolster or enhance the nun/sister imagery?);

- In an age where our primary secular values are sex, power, freedom & money, for someone to choose chastity, obedience, poverty is a radical statement; embracing contemplative/religious is obviously a radical choice – how to make it a soft option?

- There seems to be a lot of interest in spirituality, but not as much in religion, & under that, not as much in religious life; Q: is there a distinction between spirituality & religion? Even I myself is fuzzy here. What about young people?

- Just curious: what are the experiences of other religious faiths e.g. Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, etc. – do these faiths also encounter the same problem? what are the interesting lessons if any that can be learned from them?

- Has there been a systematic exploitation of advanced wired technology e.g. YouTube, podcasts, blogging, other web-based tools, etc. at the service of the gospel, so as to engage the younger crowd? To engage the laity; to “sell” themselves; to be more market savvy;

- can contemplative/religious life - loss of independence & of identity are difficult adjustments to made - be made more attractive?

- are there any concerted efforts to guide/counsel more young woman aspirants in “formation” – the year-long spiritual process that culminates into solemn vows & final commitment – what’s the conversion rate?

- What about nurturing the very young, like what the PAP Foundation in Singapore is doing in running kindergartens & child-care centres in the heartlands to produce PAP cadres in the long run?

- Is there a divide in among “old-school” nuns vs young rebel nuns, who are inclined in challenging the order of things, championing progressive causes, like social or political actions?

- Is the greater encouragement & participation of lay woman associates in the church creating conflicts or depriving nuns/sisters of their elite status? Could this be a disincentive to embracing a more contemplative choice? Younger women nowadays probably sense that there is no longer see anything worthwhile in the vocation of nuns/sisters that could not be achieved in lay ministries;

- Is there a lack of visibility of nuns/sisters in schools due to dwindling numbers?

[According to a ‘Education Next’ report, Catholic school enrolments in USA have declined from 5.2 million students in 13,000 schools in 1960 to 2.3 million students in 7,500 schools today.]

- Looks like there is a paradigm shift or reinvention is urgently needed to re-articulate the vision for nuns in the 21st century & to figure out how to present that to young people as an option;

- How to strike a fine balance: honouring long established traditions [prayer, penance, strict rules, discipline, traditional habits, devotions, loyalty to the Pope, Catholic teachings] while expanding them to synchronise with modern values [adopting lay clothes, extensive updating, feminism, abandonment of traditional work e.g. teaching, nursing, missions, or even cloistered contemplation]?

- Is there a genuinely open attempt to share, or “make it visible” so to speak, the inner workings of convent practices as well as contemplative/religious life, with young aspirants & their reluctant parents?

- How to change the image of nuns/sisters living in poverty till old age? Any retirement benefits?;

- how to help young women make better informed decisions & making steadfast commitments in their spiritual quests: traditionally, a call to contemplate/religious life should be a divine inspiration, as opposed to personal problem or issue may have prompted the decision – is this still valid in today’s context? After all, God helps those who help themselves;

- is there a keen interest to rework the long term recruitment drive to engage young women to embrace contemplative/religious life: getting seasoned marketers or business strategists to get the job done?

- any misunderstanding or misinterpretation, or worst still, "misinformation", of God's teachings: overcoming the challenge from the so-called revivalist movements, e.g. growing appeal of Pentecostalism.

This is rather interesting for me as a free thinker, realising that even God's teachings have entailed "competition", so to speak.

- Here are some possibilities or ideas "to attract more young women to embrace the contemplative/religious life", which I had shared with Dilip:

1) organise “open house” or weekend retreats with residential facility at convents for them to “come, look & experience”;

2) as part of their spiritual quests, to chart out longer term career progression & scholarship opportunities via the productive educational/health/social welfare arm of the church;

3) offer “days off”, to balance days of silence & solitude;

4) spiritual quest, in the form of reality “survivors” type approach;

5) hold “open dialogue” sessions with church-going parents to attract their children;

6) import foreign talent, like what Singapore Sport Council is doing;

7) organise virtuous beauty pageants for nuns/sisters;

8) through music, song & dance projections, like the work of Madonna or MTV to show viewers the joys of a cloistered experience – maybe I am influenced by the two ‘Sister’s Act’ movies, starring Whoopi Goldberg;

9) organise ‘welcome back” sessions to those nuns/sisters who quit;

10) setting up “customer service” to help young women in seeking out their spiritual oases, by anticipating their needs, working to develop proactive initiatives or offerings to meet their spiritual/religious needs with the view of getting them into contemplative/religious life;

11) maybe, experimenting with bringing aspiring young women into the nun/sister orders for "temporary vows" under a number of years, like Singapore's compulsory national service for young men;

As I told Dilip, working on the foregoing "rough paper" was itself a learning curve for me, as a free thinker by choice, even though I had been brought up in a mission school.

Dilip told me that, from his own personal access to other authoritative sources, like a recent Fox News broadcast, he was pleasantly surprised that my searched information was up-to-date.

Well, I just got to thank my Copernic search agent for the good work!