Saturday, June 27, 2009

DESTINATION VIETNAM 2009: FUN, SUN, GAMES, WATER, LAUGHTER, JOYFUL LEARNING, & BEST OF ALL, SUPERB STREET-CORNER CUISINE!

I had returned from Vietnam slightly more than two weeks ago, after having spent two solid weeks in the beautiful Indo-Chinese territory.

Out of the two weeks, I had spent 8 wonderful days with a bunch of playful kids on a private upcountry tour to the beach resort of Nha Trang (3 nights) & the mountain resort of Dalat (4 nights).


The kids - 6 of them - were my wife's nieces & nephews from Vietnam, comprising:

- 3 boys, nicknamed 'Zonk' (13), 'Ray' (13), & 'Longchai' aka 'Dragon Kid' (8);

- 3 girls, nicknamed 'Pea' (12), 'Paw' (12), & 'Han' (8);


Only 'Pea' & 'Paw' could speak English, a verbal facility partly attributed to their attendance in top-ranked schools of Ho Chi Minh City. They rest had attended the village schools.

[Interestingly & statistically, Vietnam has a very young population, with two-thirds under 25.

The youthfulness as well as vibrancy of the population - 85 million at last count - could be easily felt when one roams the streets, visit the supermarkets or hang out in food courts.]

Plus, one more kid, 'Vivien' (11), only daughter of my accompanying couple-friends from Singapore, David & Jenny.

To my pleasant delight (or chagrin?), I was thus unwittingly surrounded by 7 hyperactive kids throughout the upcountry journey of about 2,000 km.


With my wife as tour guide, plus a vivacious girl friend from her childhood days, nicknamed 'Wai', a 40+ Vietnamese businesswoman (still single, looking for a soul mate), the entourage comprised 12 pax. With the coach driver, that made 13.

I had been to the beautiful country several times. The first time was December 2003, with my couple-friends, James & Sophia, from the informal Wednesday Club. When they first broached the idea of holidaying in Vietnam, I was actually very apprehensive.

The moment I had stepped foot on the busy congested streets of Ho Chi Minh City, I already fell in love with the country - for some strange reasons. Naturally, I had done a lot of reading & research prior to that.

At that time, I had not yet met my current wife from Vietnam - I only met her about a year later.


Since then, I have been back to my wife's homeland practically every year.

So, in a nut shell, Nha Trang was my second visit, with Dalat, my third visit.

I simply love Dalat, especially for its cool mountain weather, tranquil ambience, uncongested streets (no traffic lights!), no high-rise buildings, abundance of green vegetables & plenty of flora, & most importantly, friendly rural folks.


Daily day temperatures during summertime hover around the twenties. On the day of arrival, the day temperature registered 24 degrees C - the hottest recorded to date, according to the hotel owner. They can go down below ten during the winter months of December.

I truly understood why the French colonial forces had found & built Dalat - located 1,500m above sea level - as a R & R sanctuary for their army boys, which in turn probably also explained - at least from my personal perspective - why they eventually lost the strategic Dien Tien Phu military post to Vietnamese nationalist forces in 1954.


They had it too good a life in Dalat!

I have read that Dalat is often a popular honeymoon spot for young Vietnamese couples from the big cities, like Ho Chi Minh City. About a million of them visit Dalat every year. Foreign visitors account for about 10%.

In Dalat, we had also visited the Dalat Flower Garden & also went up - by four-wheels - the Lang Biang Plateau, the highest point off the city, at 2,100m above sea level. From there, we captured a panoramic view of the city & the natural surroundings.

The kids even got an opportunity to fly giant paper kites as well as paddle boats (with their legs) that were shaped like upsized swans for a few hours, respectively near & in the beautiful lake located in the centre of the city.

In contrast, Nha Trang was hot - around 37 degrees C - during our visit, but the beaches were real fun places for the kids, even though they had sun burn on their backs - to register they were actually there!

For the sheer enjoyment of the kids, as well as low-cost considerations, we had spent two days on two separate beaches, about 50 km or so further north of Nha Trang, where only the local residents &/or tourists hang out.

Reportedly, Nha Trang has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Just imagine Vietnam has almost 3,500 km of coastline facing the South-China Sea.

I was the only one who did not venture into the sea - frankly, I didn't know how to swim, let alone how to float, but I certainly enjoyed the cool natural breeze, with the soothing sounds of rolling ocean waves, while sitting under the nearby thatched structure.


For me, my physical presence as well as the panoramic view of the open sea already made my day!

I must say Vienamese seafood was great. We had fresh lobsters, flower crabs, prawns, barnacles, cooked in various modes to suit our palate.

To be frank, we actually feasted as if there were no tomorrows!

In Nha Trang, we had also visited the newly opened Vinpearl Land, a large-scale Disney-style amusement park on a large island, accessible only by boat or cable car.

Naturally, for the benefit of the kids, we took the short cable car ride to the island, but returned to mainland by boat in the late evening.

Without saying much, the kids really had a field day in the park, playing with the stomach-churning outdoor rides as well as the ear-busting indoor video arcade games. While they were doing their own things, I was more or less the sentinel, looking after their personal effects, under a sort of colonnade, where visitors often use it as a rest stop.

Fortunately, I had my idea scratchpad with me.

I will probably write a separate post each to cover our visit to Dalat & Nha Trang in greater detail, especially with regard to hotel accommodation, street-corner cuisine & of course, the tourist attractions, supplemented with our appropriate photo-shots.

Maybe, another one on Ho Chi Minh City too in similar vein.

On hindsight, I reckon, the most enjoyable experience for me during the visit, besides hanging out in cool Dalat, & savouring the aromatic Vietnamese coffee, plus the cheap, appetising & sumptuous street-corner cuisine from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang & Dalat, was spending quality time & playing a series of logic as well as imagination games with the kids.

The kids were so enchanted that they kept asking me for more brain teasers & mind flexors to rack their brains!

Naturally, my wife had to do the language translation so that all the kids could participate.


On the whole, they gave me an opportunity to learn whether there would be any cultural idiosyncrasies involved in personal creativity across national boundaries.

Well, maybe a separate blog post on this issue, too.

Amusingly, the only counterpoint to all the fun, laughter & joy, was an unusual complaint from Longchai's father. He said he couldn't recognise his only son any more, because of the sun burn. He also told my wife that he wouldn't allow the 'Dragon Kid' to follow us the next time round.

[to be continued.]
[Destination Vietnam Schedule: 3rd to 10th June 2009, with 3 nights in Nha Trang & 4 nights in Dalat]

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

If you want happiness for an hour - take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day - go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year - inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime - help someone else.

~ Chinese Proverb;

Friday, June 26, 2009

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What does it feel actually to be hurtling toward a S-bend at 300 km/hr?

TEACH YOUR KIDS INVENTIVE & PRODUCTIVE THINKING

Since I was a kid, I have always been inspired & influenced by great inventors & their wonderful inventions.

To name a few: Leonardo da Vinci, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, the Wright Brothers, Henry Ford, R Buckminster Fuller, & of course, Albert Einstein, even though he was not an inventor in the real sense of the word.

As a kid, & often immediately after school, I would hang out at a nearby vehicle repair garage, where 'grease monkeys' were busy dismantling, cleaning & repairing the engines of transport vehicles.

Partly because of these early influences, I went to a technical school, & then to a polytechnic, & finally became a mechanical engineer.

Over the years, I have amassed a lot of books & other useful resources about inventors & inventions.

They sparked off my life-long journey to learn about inventions & understand the invention process. Although I did not make any patented inventions, I invented abundant learning opportunities for myself as well as for those around me.

Throughout the 90's, & up to early 2001, as part of my success coaching to kids/teens, I designed & developed a training program to share my knowledge & to teach inventive thinking to them.

I designated it, 'Science & the Art of Discovery'.

It was targeted mainly at Primary 4 to Primary 6 school-going kids. It initially started with a 3-day workshop & eventually ended up as a 5-1/2 day workshop, which included some field observation trips.

For your information, I would like to extract the theme of the workshop from my brochure:

This workshop is a fun-filled, highly-interactive, project-based and yet relatively intensive program to help kids to appreciate the drama and wonder of looking closely at the world around them.

It is designed to enhance their natural curiosity, and accelerate their learning and thinking skills, creativity and problem solving abilities, scientific and technological literacy across all subjects in the school (and eventually for life!).

It is based on a simple toolbox set of strategies and tools. Using everyday objects (natural and man-made) and real-life experiences, a magnifying glass or loupe, and simple questions, it accelerates science, writing, art, math and social studies, as well as vocational and technological education.

In a nut-shell, it develops "the interdisciplinary mind" in the kids. It also builds observation, concentration, higher-order thinking and communication skills on top of their learning skills.¡±

I would like to share with readers the principal books that form the backbone of my SELECTED CURRICULUM SUPPORT MATERIALS & RESOURCES for the 'Science & the Art of Discovery' workshop.

They are appended below:

1) 'The Private Eye: Looking/Thinking by Analogy: A Guide to Developing the Interdisciplinary Mind', by Kerry Ruef;

Comments:

This beautifully illustrated book takes kids on a journey of discovery, that incorporates science, art, literature, and creative thinking. The best in the genre!

2) 'The Way Things Work', by David Macaulay

Comments:

This interactive kit guides kids through the fundamental principles of machines, equipped with everything needed to perform over 50 activities, including the construction of 12 working models.

Subjects are arranged into four broad categories:

- The Mechanics of Movement (inclined plane, levers, wheel and axle, gears and belts, cams and cranks, pulleys, screws, rotating wheels, springs, friction);
- Harnessing The Elements (floating, flying, pressure power, exploiting heat, nuclear power);
- Working With Waves (light and images, photography, printing, sound and music,telecommunications;
- Electricity & Automation (electricity, magnetism, sensors and detectors, computers);

3) 'The Explorabook: A Kid's Science Museum in a Book', by John Cassidy

Comments:

Packed with 100 pages, covering subjects from light waves to biology, magnetism to optical illusions. This is not just a book. It is a science tool with more than 50 activities and items needed to do them- a magnet, mirror, diffraction grating, agar gel and more. Scientific explanations are excellent as the book originated from the San Francisco Exploratorium.

4) 'Steven Carney's Invention Book';

Comments:

This book will encourage kids to think about what invention they would like to create. The book is beautifully illustrated throughout, with tons of photographs and illustrations.

The first half of the book contains advice on how to develop, patent, and market inventions, along with a couple of cool projects to try.

The second half of the book consists of "35 Great American Invention Stories," covering such inventions as basketball, earmuffs, Life Savers, and the Xerox machine.

5) 'Put a Fan in Your Hat: Inventions, Contraptions & Gadgets Kids can Build', by Robert Carrow;

Comments:

This book introduces electronics and physics concepts to kids and encourages them to produce practical, often zany gadgets.

In 12 chapters, students are invited to create 15 projects: make a natural battery, build a motor, and create such diverse items as a hat with a cooling fan, a fish-tank food dispenser, a battery-operated drink mixer, a motorized shoe-buffer, a solar hot-dog cooker, a continuously rotating ice-cream cone, and an automatic toilet-paper dispenser.

6) 'Inventors & Inventions', by Lorraine Egan;

Comments:

Packed with activities to help kids explore the history of inventors and inventions, and develop scientific problem-solving skills.

7) 'Gizmos & Gadgets: Creating Science Contraptions that Work', by Jill Hauser;

Comments:

Shows kids how to use simple household items to create toys that spin, fling, collide, and whiz, and helps them understand the concepts of gravity, inertia, balance, and energy.

8) 'Electric Gadgets & Gizmos: Battery-powered Buidable Gadgets that Go!', by Alan Bartholomew;

Comments:

For kids, this is really a great book for a simple introduction to electronic gadget building.

9) 'Inventioneering', by Bob Stanish;

Comments:

This is an excellent creative thinking/problem solving resource for kids.

10) 'Unconventional Invention Book', by Bob Stanish;

Comments:

This excellent resource is designed to activate the inventiveness of kids.

11) 'Constructions for Children: Projects in Design Technology', by Barbara Eichelberger & Connie Larson;

Comments:

This excellent resource will make the most of kids' natural tendencies to expand & transform everyday materials into imaginative creations. Packed with classroom-tested projects, this dynamic work puts learning in students' hands!

Using creativity and skills of observation to build interesting objects, students bring their imaginations to life by building unique objects such as gravity-powered vehicles, clocks with gears, and more!

12) 'Inventions, Inventors & You', by Dianne Draze;

Comments:

This book encourages kids to explore how our lives have been affected by inventions, while they build their own creative inventions.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

“Creativity . . . It’s like washing a pig. It’s messy, it has no rules, no clear beginning, middle or end: it’s kind of a pain in the @#!, and when you’re done, you’re not sure if the pig is clean or
even why you were washing a pig."
~ Luke Sullivan; dubbed “Jedi American Copywriter” & “Advertising God,” whatever you call him the man is a legend; also, as author of 'Hey Whipple Squeeze This! A Guide to Creating Great Ads', he has shaped a generation of advertising professionals;

[Source: Catch Your Limit Consulting]

Thursday, June 25, 2009

MANAGING PERSONAL EXPECTATIONS

In the great classic, 'Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't', strategist Jim Collins relates the story of Admiral Jim Stockdale & his survival as a POW during the Vietnam War.

According to Admiral Stockdale the #1 indicator of which prisoners were likely to survive & which were less likely was directly related to their ability to accept the harsh & brutal reality.

Obviously, managing personal expectations plays a significant role in maintaining personal morale.

[In the book, the author gives a heart-warming account of what he calls the 'Stockdale Paradox' (in a nut shell: you must retain the fact that you will prevail in the end, & you must also confront the most brutal facts of your current reality).

He writes:

"Life is unfair - sometimes to our advantage, sometimes to our disadvantage. We will all experience disappointments & crushing events somewhere along the way, set backs for which there is no "reason", no one to blame.

It might be disease; it might be injury; it might be an accident; it might be losing a loved one; it might be getting swept away in a political shake-up; it might be getting shot down over Vietnam & thrown into a POW camp for 8 years.

What separates people, Stockdale has taught me (the author), is not the presence or absence of difficulty, but how they deal with the inevitable difficulties of life.

In wrestling with life's challenges, the 'Stockdale Paradox' has proved powerful for coming back from difficulty not weakened, but stronger - not just for me (the author), but for all those who've learned the lesson & tried to apply it."]

SPOTLIGHT: BUS STOPPING

In Singapore, the public bus stops can actually be great learning opportunities if you open your eyes wide.

Here are two simple examples I have captured yesterday with my digital camera. The location is the IMM Jurong East shopping mall.



As a matter of fact, Dilip Mukerjea had told me that his Caucasian photographer friend had done a wonderful photographic book on public bus stops in Singapore. It's simply entitled 'Bus Stopping'. I haven't yet seen it, but it's available in Kinokuniya Bookstores.

THE BEST IDEAS CAN COME FROM ANYWHERE


Here's a link to a great article, entitled 'Innovating Innovation: The Best Ideas Can Come From Anywhere', by Joel Rubinson, Chief Research Officer at The ARF, in 'Fast Company'.

I like more or less the concluding summary: "Think broadly, because innovation might come as a media, servicing or engagement concept and not a product. . . Don't pigeonhole innovation to a team or a project; commit your company to a culture of listening for the unexpected."

WHAT'S YOUR FLEXIBILITY FACTOR?

Here's a link to an interesting survey to find out your flexibility factor.

Have fun & take a moment to complete it.

To paraphrase the progenitor of the survey, it isn't like taking a DNA test, you will not be implicated in any crimes by participating, you'll simply get to see where you are at and where you can improve.

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What if there was a brilliant way to tap into all that knowledge stored in the unconscious part of my mind at any moment?

What if I could solve any personal or business problem with startling creativity?

What if I could come up with ideas that would make me generate more money, or help me be massively more productive - with minimum effort?

HOW TO LIVE LIFE. . .

Jeffrey Tan, one of my buddies from the informal Wednesday Club, now spending the summer holidays with his grand-children (by his eldest son) in the United States, has emailed me this morning the following fascinating messages & beautiful pictures.

They are self-explanatory.

Be Calm... Quiet... Tranquil...


Bloom as often as you can...


Stay close to your Family...


Explore the world around you...


Enjoy the relaxing rhythm of waves...


W A T C H T H E M O O N R I S E....


Spread your wings and take off on your own...


Then enjoy the comfort of coming home again...


Life becomes fanstatic !

Please... While you can...

Take time to enjoy all the little pleasures that life has provided you...

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

“Good tactics can save even the worst strategy. Bad tactics will destroy even the best strategy.”
~ General George S. Patton, Jnr.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

WHAT IS A LIFE PURPOSE?

I have stumbled upon the following wonderful definition as well as beautiful elucidation on 'What is a Life Purpose?' from life coach Michelle Castro:

"The word purpose means to have intentional results. When we are on purpose, we are making a conscious effort to be or create something. Usually what we really want to be or do seems out of reach, "impossible."

But we must remember that the word "impossible" with an apostrophe is actually I’m (I am) possible. And you are!

Dudley Lynch & Paul Kordis in their book, 'Strategy of the Dolphin', said this:

We can define "purpose" in several ways. For one, when we know our purpose, we have an anchor- a device of the mind to provide some stability, to keep the surprises of a creative universe from tossing us to and fro, from inflicting constant seasickness on us. Or we can think of our purpose as being a master nautical chart marking shoals and rocks.

Perhaps the most profound thing about "being on purpose" is that when that is our status, our condition, and our comfort, we find our lives have meaning, and when we’re "off purpose" we are confused about meanings and motives.

A clearly defined life purpose provides meaning, direction, and significance.

Your life purpose answers two essential questions: Who do I want to be? and What do I want to do?

When we are living from our true soul’s purpose, we feel more alive- filled with excitement, joy, and inner peace- in a word "contentment." We are more connected to one another as human beings and more content with who we are and what we do.

When we are "on purpose" we tap into a higher power, we have supernatural support!

The best things in life seem to be naturally attracted to us. When we are not on purpose, we try to do it all alone! We grasp at straws, everything looks good- whether it is a new job, going to school, moving, finding another lover- anything to fill the void of the extreme emptiness we feel inside.

Not being on purpose leads to constant seeking- external things to make you feel more fulfilled. Being on purpose leads to effortless contentment- an internal peace with what is unfolding in your life. You have a feeling of "all is right with the world" and I have an important part to play!

Every human being has the universal purpose of learning how to love more. Every human being has his or her unique purpose of helping to heal our planet and other people. Planet Earth is the ultimate university for our souls, where you have the task of learning your lessons, showing love, and sharing gifts.

You can evolve yourself by understanding, accepting, and taking action to live out your universal and unique life purposes. You were born to do something specific. A role and opportunity was entrusted to you and you alone. If you don’t know your life purpose, you are still a diamond in the rough.

Discovering one’s life purpose is like cutting a diamond. Every gem quality diamond has within it a ready-made design, waiting to be discovered. So do you.

The secret is to discover and actualize your unique pattern. Like a diamond needs to be excavated to have worth, you have to dig deep within yourself to discover your unique life purpose.

Characteristics of a Life Purpose:

Your Life Purpose . . .

• Lasts a lifetime, shaping you from birth to death, and usu- ally doesn’t change.

• Is bigger than you, connecting you to others and allowing you to share your gifts with the world.

• Supports your values and beliefs, providing you an op- portunity to excavate your hopes, dreams, aspirations and bringing them to the light of awareness.

• Provides structure for what you will be and do during your lifetime, you achieve maximum performance + satis- faction, experience less-stress, and enjoy more meaning and authenticity.

• Is the theme of your life story, giving you more freedom to decide how to live out your personal and professional roles.

As Thomas Edison once said, "If we all did the things we were capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves."

To reach this place of soulful purpose, an inner shift must first occur. Change starts on the inside, and as you awaken to the real part you are meant to play, you will develop confidence in knowing who you are meant to be and what you are meant to do in the world. You will develop awareness of how big and bright you really are.

You will then begin to accept your part, articulating it to yourself and others, and finally taking action to live out your purpose.

5 Steps to Discovering Your Soul Life Purpose:

1. Awakening.

- This is the step where you awaken to the fact that you have a bigger game to play in life- a unique personal and professional purpose. If you are awakening, you are beginning to notice a restlessness in your soul, you may be having trouble sleeping, getting intuitive messages, having symbolic dreams.

2. Awareness.

- This is the step where you become aware that you need to find out exactly what your life purposes are. If you are becoming aware, you are wanting to find out more about what else there is to life, desiring more fulfillment and meaning, and feeling more awake about who you really are.

3. Acceptance.

- This is the step where you accept your life purposes and come to terms with what it means to you and the world. If you are in acceptance, you are beginning to embrace the idea that your life has purpose, realizing it is your job to be it and do it, and wanting to find out how.

4. Articulating.

- This is the step where you articulate your life purposes by putting them into words. If you are articulating, you are putting in words what it is that you are meant to be and do, starting to share it with others, and getting excited about it.

5. Acting.

- This is the step where you take action by moving towards the fulfillment of your life purposes. If you are taking action, you have begun making major personal and professional life changes that are more in alignment with who you are and what you are meant to do."

I understand that the foregoing piece of writing has been adapted from one of the author's 'Get Smart' series of ebooks, entitled 'Discovering Your Divine Life Purpose: How to Consciously Choose Who You Are & What You Do'. The ebook is available from this link.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by traffic from both sides."
~ Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990, & Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990 - the only woman to have held either post;

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

POINTS TO PONDER (P2P)

What follows is a transcription - for quick overview - of a powerpoint presentation probably floating freely on the Internet, which a buddy of mine has recently sent to me.

It contains several interesting messages or axioms which are worth pondering:

Love your job but don't love your company
because you may not know when you company stops loving you.

Without your involvement you can't succeed
With your involvement you can't fail.

The happiest people do not
necessarily have the best of all.
They simply appreciate
what they find on their way.

Write your Sad times in Sand
Write your Good time in Stone
~George Bernard Shaw

Dream of what you most enjoy
Go where you want to go
Be whom you want to be
You have but one life
To achieve what you want to achieve

To find on your way
Enough luck to remain happy
Enough challenges to become strong
Enough grief to remain human
Enough hope to be happy

What is the secret of success?
'Right Decisions'
How do you make Right Decisions?
'Experience'
How do you get Experience?
'Wrong Decisions'

It's better to lose your Ego to the one you Love
than to lose the one you Love because of Ego
~ John Keats

Forget what's gone
Leave what's behind you
Your failures & your pain.

If you know the strength & patience,
Welcome the company of Trees.
~ Hal Borland

The Day, Water, Sun, Moon, Night
I do not have to purchase these things with money.
~ Plautus

Easy to say we love . . .
Difficult to demonstrate it every day

Easy to judge the errors of others
Difficult to recognise our own errors

I do not count the hours I spend in
wandering by the sea.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

You are not responsible for what
people think about you.
But you are responsible for what
you give them to think about you.
~ Stanley Ferrard

A man is lucky if he is the first love of a woman.
A woman is lucky if she is the last love of a man.
~ Charles Dickens

Behind every successful man, there is an untold pain
in his heart.
~ Bill Jacobs

One today is worth two tomorrows.
~ Benjamin Franklin

Don't make promise when you are in joy
Don't reply when you are sad.
Don't make decisions when you are angry.
Think twice, Act wise.

Easy to receive
Difficult to give

THE 4 Ps OF STRATEGY CREATION

Google Alert has brought my personal attention to this link to a great article on strategic thinking, entitled 'The 4 Ps of Strategy Creation', by Ron Price, founder & CEO of Price Associates, a company dedicated to helping business leaders & entrepreneurs solve problems, identify solutions & implement change in strategy & performance.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Looking at small advantages prevents great affairs from being accomplished."

~ Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC), Chinese thinker & social philosopher, whose teachings & philosophy have deeply influenced Chinese culture & traditions;

Monday, June 22, 2009

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"I was like a boy playing on the seashore & diverting myself now & then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

~ Sir Isaac Newton, physicist, mathematician & astronomer;

HOW DO YOU DEFINE 'STREET SMART'?

In writing this particular blog post, I am somehow influenced after re-watching the end-of-the-nineties sci-fi fantasy thriller, 'Men in Black', on StarHub cable television.

It starred Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K & Will Smith as Agent J in a top-secret government agency established to monitor & police alien activity on planet Earth, known in short as 'MiB'.

In the beginning segment of the movie, it traced how a brash, street-smart NYPD detective, played by Will Smith, was recruited by Agent K to join the agency.

It was really fun to watch him going through the initial recruitment process, in which he had to do the written test as well as the field test, both of which he had passed with flying colours.

For Agent K, I would attribute the success to his 'street-smart' disposition.

I have already covered this aspect of the movie in great detail in my earlier post under 'What I Have Learned from the Men in Black: Street-Smart vs School Smart'.

How do you define a 'street smart' person?

In a nutshell, a 'street smart' person is often one who has gone through the hard knocks in life, so to speak.

Nonetheless, I like to draw some lessons in terms of characteristic traits from the movie to help me to define a 'street smart' person:

1) forces himself to think on his feet;

2) fully observant of his environment, especially the details without losing the big picture;

3) prepared to do whatever it takes to get the job done;

4) fully cognizant of why he is doing what he is doing;

5) has the sense of curiosity about strange & unexplained things, people & events around him;

6) not afraid to take personal risks;

7) anti-status-quo, in some way, by not being afraid to get out of the comfort zone & pursue the unknown;

Sunday, June 21, 2009

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"For those who have experienced it, the hour of the awakening of the passion for knowledge is the most memorable of a lifetime."

~ R Buckminster Fuller, futurist, philosopher & inventor;

DO NOT CONFUSE LUCK WITH SKILL

Actually, my foregoing blog post title is a very memorable line from the late 90's action thriller, 'The Replacement Killers', starring Chow Yun Fatt.

The executive producer of the movie was the legendary John Woo, famous for his ultra-violent gangster films with elaborate hyper-kinetic scenes shot with breathtaking panache in Hongkong, e.g. 'A Better Tomorrow', 'The Killer' & 'Hard-boiled', just to name a few.

Last night, I had re-watched it for the umpteenth time on StarHub cable television.

In a nut shell, the simple story centred on the escape adventure of a hitman, John Lee (played by Chow Yun Fatt). He was put on an assignment by a Chinese drug lord, Terence Wei (played by Kenneth Tsang), to kill the son of a police officer (played by Michael Rooker), who had earlier killed his only son during a drug bust.

It seemed that John was somehow obligated to Mr. Wei, but couldn't carry out the assignment out of conscience. Fearing a vengeful backlash for disobedience from Mr. Wei, he sought help from a passport forger, Meg Coburn (played by the beautiful Mira Sorvino) to get proper documents to return to China to relocate his mother & sister from danger.

Meanwhile, Mr. Wei had arranged his goons to hunt John down. Unwittingly, our heroine got caught in the melee. The goons made two futile attempts to capture them, resulting in massive dead counts. That's when Mr. Wei's right-hand henchman (played by Jürgen Prochnow) made the remark that John was lucky to get away, but Mr Wei retorted that he should not confuse luck with skill.

Mr Wei's point was that John was highly skilled in what he was good at. In fact, Mr. Wei also mentioned that he had worked with John's father back home. He added that John's father was an honourable man, & yet was also ruthless. So, John was like his father.

The second half of the movie continued with a new group of professional killers being eventually recruited by Mr. Wei to finish the job. Hence, the name 'Replacement Killers'.

Naturally, in typical John Woo-style, & with guns blazing from both hands, executed in ruthless precision, our hero proved to be a tougher nut to deal with. All the bad guys, including Mr. Wei, were eliminated at the end, in exciting as well as explosive fashion of course.

The story plot was, in a way, most predictable, but the fast-paced action sequences from start to finish were high-octane fueled. That's to say, never a dull moment.

I love to watch &/or re-watch action thrillers, even if they were 'no brainers'. I just like to be entertained for two hours or so, especially when I have nothing better to do.