Monday, August 31, 2009



Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blog Ownership

When do you start owning a blog?

If the answer is when we register with a blog hosting company, free or otherwise, gives it the sexiest name that comes to mind, picks a template and Voila!, then this would be a very short post. Although, right now, after one week and two days from my last post, post of any length will do for me.

If the answer to the question has not appeared thus far, I would think the next step of putting some sorts of post in the blog would not really confer the ownership of the blog to the publisher either.

In my opinion, half the ownership to a blog will be acquired when the blog has its first reader. After all, what's the purpose of a blog without readership?

The other half of the ownership would come from ... guilt!

Some blog to make money, some blog to make friends, some blog to journalise their lives, some blog to share their experiences, and I blog to for the sake of my creativity, after I've failed to make any money out of it. Though I care about readership, I don't really care much about stuff like page rank, or rather I've stopped caring about stuff like page rank.

However, with readership, comes expectation.

I used to put up a post twice every week. But as work and family commitment are getting more demanding, I've started to post once every week. I feel that a week should be the longest spell between posts for a "regularly-updated" blog. But lately, work and family commitment are starting to get real stingy in allotting times for my blogging activities, and I have been stretching my dormant spell a little bit. When I don't meet my self-imposed deadline, as usual, I feel a sense of guilt.

Ever since I have started to feel this kind of guilt some times ago, I started to feel like I own a blog.

In my opinion, with readership and responsibility, comes ownership of a blog.

Now, it would be easy to abandon this blog for the sake of work and family in terms of priority, fortunately I'm not at that stage yet. Therefore, the guilt is allowed to stay and torment me. I needed a post.

Friends, I don't purposely blog to make. But, a few, I've made nonetheless. A friend in need, is a friend indeed. And the serendipity of life is being kind to me on the day that I felt compelled to publish a post.

For this edition of my post, I'd six or seven potential materials waiting in line to get published, after they were polished, if I could polish them in time. However, they were playing hide-and-seek with me, and they're good at it too, hiding that is. But a comment in my last post bowled all these elusive materials away with a strike.

So, I own a blog, and yesterday I felt a great sense of satisfaction of owning a blog too.

While I was still scratching my head for a post yesterday, out of the blue, my day was saved when I was given an award - my blog is being loved! And it's said in a language I probably can't twist my tongue around too -

J'Adore tien Blog!

That means I Love Your Blog, in French!

An award is an award, but receiving it from an accomplished writer like Patsy from Patsy's Words of Wisdom makes this award ultra-satisfactory for this "writer" (to tag myself as such without blushing, the best I can do is wrapping it with apostrophes). It's one thing that she drops by my blog often, it's another when I realise she actually reads what I wrote, and it's yet another when I find out my blog is actually worth an award from her!

Patsy's Words of Wisdom is one of the blogs that I frequented. I can always pick up a quote from her that'll put a smile on my face, open up my mind, plunge me into deep thoughts, provide me with a different angle on life, or light up a bulb in my head. I do admire her writing style. It's always worth five minutes of my blogging time on her blog.

So, once again. Thanks for the award, Patsy! And thanks for saving my day by giving me an award to fill this post.

However, I'll break the usual rules here and keep the awards for now - too tired to go through all my favourite blogs and pick a few, my mind hurts.

Instead, I'll be lazy and just say -

J'Adore tien Blog! And that means I love your blog, in French!

And you know who you are!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Have A Cup?

Life is best enjoyed in short spans. Take it any longer and all kinds of negative sentiment will start forcing themselves into the gaps, giving it a bitter-sweet flavour. Although, when that happens, life is actually at its fullest and would be best savoured like vintage wine, with maturity and wisdom. But for an unseasoned player like me, life is appreciated most in short spans, like a cup of tea.

A cup of tea can be enjoyed in ten to twenty tasteful sips, not long enough to think too much, except the cup in hands and its delightful content.

Colour and scent - these would be the initial impressions of a cup of tea. As with experiences in life, expectation is important. Too high an expectation, disappointment will ensue; too low, and there'll be no satisfaction to cap the experience. The colour that meets the eyes and the aroma that fills the nose will help set the expectation for an enjoyable drink.

But before the first sip, caution is to be practiced, and haste is to be avoided. No matter how enthusiastic we are towards life, we should not jump into it blindly. Life is to be taken without haste, and caution is required to avoid unwanted surprises. Feel the cup. If it can be held with both hands without being dropped onto the floor, then life is ready to be relished. If it's too hot to be handled, then it's not the right time to handle. But don't let it "over-cool" either. Too cold, it will lack aroma and taste a bit bland. The moment needs to be seized.

When the tea is ready to be consumed, the first sip should be just enough to immerse the tongue. There should be enough room in the mouth to let the tea swirl. Feel the smoothness. Allow half a sip down the stomach to wet the throat. Hold the balance in the mouth for a few second. Taste it. If it helps, close your eyes. Let neither the worry of the future, nor the regrets of the past be a distraction. Explore the senses, seek out the details, enjoy the delicacy, live the moment.

Now, tea is tea, as is life is life. Our mind is a wonderful magician. With the slightest shift of perspective and attention to details of whatever we're holding - sweet can be bitter, bitter can be wholesome, wholesome can be thin, thin can be rich, rich can be plain, and plain can be sweet. Beauty arises from our perception. Beauty brings out satisfaction, satisfaction draws out optimism, and optimism leads into happiness. Life can be wonderful.

After the first sip is down, the experience is not at an end. There's the after taste and the lingering aroma. These are memories to be brought forward for the next sip. Adjustment to our expectation should be made if necessary.

The thing about a cup of tea is, when we have finished enjoying it, the regrets of the past or the worries of the future which wasn't in the picture before might now change their tones or their hue on second look. And life could be a lot more optimistic after a pleasant drink.

But, if you didn't enjoy the tea before, although you can't throw it away, as in life, you can finish it in a few quick gulps and get it over with. The next cup is always just a few moments away for us to start anew.

Make sense?

That's my cup of tea for the moment - another post, another cup; another excursion, another cup, another journey, another cup; another day, another cup.

If you didn't enjoy this cup, do come back another day for another cup.



Monday, August 10, 2009

Of Courage And A Nine-Year-Old

"It's okay to fail. Everybody fails once in a while. The important thing is how you react to the failure. I would rather be someone who is able to bounce back after a failure than someone who has never failed."

"Look at the positives. It's a good chance to learn how to rebound from a setback. Try to think about what went wrong, figure a way to improve your shortcomings, make this failure worthwhile, make it a seed for future success."

Try driving these pep talks to a nine-year old little girl who had just brought back a poor exam result and were feeling down after a session with her mother, and you'd realise how difficult parenting can be, effective parenting, that is.

My little girl has always been up and down with her grades. My wife and I practise a good-cop-bad-cop routine on her with her academic progress. My wife, being the bad cop, would exert pressure when required, and I would come in to release the pressure from her when I think fit. In this particular instance, it's especially bad for my little girl.

She's a bit over-confident prior to the exam and was slightly slack in her preparation, despite numerous reminders from her mom. Therefore, when she brought home a poor mark that barely extended beyond the passing mark, she was in for a storm.

Lesson learnt? I guess so. I hope so.

Did my subsequent pep talks work? Well, she seemed blur on the message "Look at the positives from the failure", but she could totally accept and understand "It's OK to fail" - loud and clear.

But her worries were not over yet. She was to receive the results for a few other subjects the next day. Her confidence being on the lows, her eyebrows were locked the whole night fearing another round of bad marks comes tomorrow.

Another opportunity to practise my parenting skill? - Definitely.

"Be brave. Own up to your work", "Have courage to face the consequences of your own doing", "Be brave, be courageous", "With bravery and courage, nothing needs to be feared", "Be brave, be courageous" - "Baba, you said that already."

After another round of ineffective pep talks on a blank and frowning face, I finally accepted the wisdom of "It's OK to fail", and went to sleep with the "Look at the positives from the failure" at the back of my mind. It's a good thing I don't have to present my marks from effective parenting to any cops.

So, how do you instil bravery and courage into a nine-year-old?

The next day, I think I did it. I hope I did it.

When I got home that day after work, I was a bit anxious about how my little girl went through her day. To my relief, my little girl ran to me and gave me a big hug with a big smile. I think my "trick" worked. I hope my "trick" worked.

Right before I left for work that morning, inspiration struck me. I tore out a piece of paper, and on it I wrote the word Yong Qi (Courage in Chinese). That's it? No. I felt something was missing, it lacked punches - there is nothing there to back it up.

"Jie Jie, Baba's going to give you Courage to bring to school today, OK?" I told my just-awaken daughter, with a cheeky, but encouraging smile.

"Huh?" My little girl put on a puzzled and skeptical look. None the less, she accepted the piece of paper. The piece of paper with the word Yong Qi and signed with "From Baba who loves you very much!".

I'm not really sure the trick worked for you that day, Jie Jie, but I hope soon, you'll be able to draw bravery and courage from within you and face any problem with your head held high, and a smile on your face. But I guess that piece of paper is a good start. Love, Baba.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Quiet Time

There's nothing more important than a cosy Sunday to cap off a working week, to prove life could still be enjoyable. It's the best time to do some much-needed soul searching, enjoying some quiet time, relaxing and recharging unless ... you have a seven-years old boy with you.

On the only day when you can sleep until the sun slides its butts westward, my little boy would invariably wake up earlier than usual. That would be fine if he keeps his Sunday to himself. But probably due to my endearing fatherly love, he would insist on sharing his Sunday with me as fully as possible.

But he doesn't send the invitation by gently waking me up. He would bang my bedroom door going in and out doing his "chores" - clearing up the messes he left behind in the room, on his table, on my table, or in the living room from last night.

Ok, Ok! Sunday morning nap is gone - I'm awake.

"Morning, son. So, what do you want to do today?"

"Baba, I want to watch TV."


That's partly my fault; but mainly my wife is to be blamed. Sunday mornings are the only mornings when my children can switch on the TV before breakfast and enjoy their cartoons, as long as they've kept their places neat and tidy, on insistence from my wife, and on apathy from me.

Ok, TV then. I can probably go back to my morning nap.

But, after spending three minutes picking up pieces left scattering by the tornado of my fury and frustration by breathing-in-breathing-out, and another ten minutes of the same even-if-you-don't-try-you-would-do-it-anyway trick to get back to sleep, I would realise that the only way to get back to total unconsciousness would be banging my head against the wall.

So, I'm up.

Well, might as well start enjoying a beautiful Sunday - with a shouting match of the children over the TV remote control.

Fine, I don't get my Sunday sleep-in, the kids don’t get their Sunday cartoon either. Breakfast.

After herding the children into the car, off to Sunday breakfast.

Being the only day I get to eat my breakfast leisurely without being hurried to work, Sunday breakfast is like wearing my favourite underpants - if I don't wear it right, I feel out of sort. So it's important to start my day with an enjoyable breakfast.

"What do you want for breakfast, kids?"

"Kopitiam!" - their favourite.

"OK, we're having wonton mee!" - my favourite.

That's democracy being practiced by a dictator. Take it or leave it, kiddos.

With that, my seven-year old throws another fit (before you go pointing finger at me, the kids do get to go to their favourite place once in a while). It's hard to imagine how I would think he's the greatest gift to me with that sulky face.

With satisfied taste buds, a full stomach and a newspaper in hand, I finally get to my quiet time. The kids? They're enjoying themselves with the second most important modern invention to keep kids away from parents after the TV - computer games.

Quiet time? Only if I live in a separate house.

I think my son plays computer games like no other kids play computer games. At least for other parents’ sake, I would like to think so.

"Die, you ugly monster!", "No, you don't!", "Take that!", "Hahaha, I told you I'll beat you!", "I'm gonna get you!", "Yes! I told you so!", "Muahahaha, you can't beat the master!"

As if the music from the games is not already noisy enough, my son would actually interact with the game verbally too. Hats off to the game programmers - Bravo, I hope your kids do the same to you too.

It's cute for a while. After half an hour of the verbal abuses, it gets annoying and I would start to wonder who’s this replica of the sweet little boy whom I hold so dear to.

After dinner, homework time. Quite time?

Not my son.

My son is slow in this area. Not that he's not bright. Just that he would keep alternating between doing his homework and other mindless drivels, like sharpening his pencil, playing with his erasers, practicing his kungfu, singing a song, or doing a dance. Eventually the carnival will draw complaints from his older sister. He'll then defend himself with a "No" and attack with a "You". Then his sister will defend with her "No" and attack with her "You" and Voila! - a shouting match.

When all else fails – cane.

With some cracking sound effect from the cane on the sofa, order would be finally restored. That's when my son is at his most efficient with his homework. Ten minutes, the record to date, and the devil within him will rise again.

But, after all that, it's still easy to get past the devil in the boy.

The devil can wreak havoc all he likes, but the angel within him will prevail eventually - when I pull the blanket over his chest, run my fingers through his soft hair and caress that angelic face of his on his bed.

Finally, at long, long last, some quiet time ...

"Baba ...will you read me a bedtime story?""




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