Monday, August 30, 2010


I think, at the core of it, most of us want to know and be known. Not in the sense of becoming famous, but for someone to see who we are -- the person we are inside. At the same time, we're afraid that if others were to see that person, they wouldn't like him or her, because we're all too aware of the myriad flaws and weaknesses we have, the ones we take pains to conceal and go to great lengths to ensure nobody will ever know of.

It's a catch-22 kind of situation. But it's why we're always reaching out for love, because we know only love can forgive the ugliness that resides within us... and more than forgive: it embraces the whole person, imperfections and all.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Never alone

This song always soothes me.

Bapa Yang Kekal, by Franky Sihombing

English translation:

I have received perfect love from You
Not because of any good in me
But only because of Your grace
You restore me
You make me worthy to call You "Father"

Whatever I ask, You provide
The moment I seek, I find
When I knock on Your door, You open it
Because You are my Father
My everlasting Father

You will never let me walk alone
You are always there for me
Because You are my Father
My everlasting Father

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Coveting her words

"She had the lollipop proportions of a model -- big head, stick figure -- pale skin, wintergreen eyes, and a nose barely big enough to breathe out of." -Melissa Bank, The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing

Fantastic description, isn't it? On a separate note, The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing has to be the most misleading title ever. I'd never have picked it up if I'd seen it on a shelf; I'd have thought it was another one of those boring how-to nature books.

Friday, August 27, 2010

It's hard work being this attractive

This Questionable Content strip reminded me of the impossible time I have trying to choose new spectacle frames. I'm hopelessly myopic, so much so that my parents could sit across the table from me and I wouldn't be able to recognise them without my glasses on. So imagine me slipping on a pair of frames at the optometrists' and squinting into a mirror one inch away from my nose.

It's sheer coincidence that none of my glasses so far have sucked or made me look like Medusa or something.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Still celebrating!

Ohohohohoho. Durian. *mmmhmmmmm*

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Birthday birthday birthday!!! *virtual cartwheels*

It's my birthday! So now you know why the trippy post yesterday. *grins*  I love birthdays... even though they're often accompanied by just a teensy dash of melancholy -- but this year there is nothing to mar my delight and I'm just so happy! *twirls around*

32 sounds like a good number, doesn't it? I've always liked even numbers for some reason. 30 was too portentious, like "oh my God I'm no longer in my 20s", but 32 is really nice. If it were a person, it'd be wriggling its bottom and settling more comfortably into its seat, closing its eyes and contemplating the next 8 years with a contented smile on its face.

I do know I'm totally overanalysing, but I don't care. It's my birthday! :p

One of the reasons I love my birthday is that in recent years it's become a time to celebrate life... my life, specifically (d'oh, who else's, right?). It's a time when I look back and marvel at how faithful God has been to me. After all these years, to have reached a place of contentment and to be at peace with who I am -- that's a very precious thing. I highly recommend the 30s: you're more comfortable in your own skin, you're not as much of an ass or as silly and giddy as you were before, and although it's balanced by financial responsibilities and having to be all grown up, there are ample compensations. Ample.

Summary: God is good, I feel very blessed, life is wonderful, and it's my birthday!! *twirls around some more*

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dancing around in a field of flowers

I think it would be cool to learn graphic design. And drums. And jewellery-making. And painting. And... wow, there are a lot of things I'm interested in, not enough money & time for all of them!

This is a good week. A great week. Also a busy week. I'm going to spend nearly every night out with a different bunch of friends. Normally I don't have such a hectic social life but this week is special and a shining exception. For the bestest reason ever. You guys will find out why eventually, if you don't know yet.

I'm very happy, and I'm so happy to be happy. It's good to be happy! I highly recommend happiness ^.^

Monday, August 23, 2010

Idle early-Monday-morning thoughts

It would be so much easier if I could just randomly speak thoughts aloud and have them recorded. So many things running through my head & I get a lot of ideas when I'm driving, but can't write 'em down. Very inconvenient.

I wonder if other species' tongues are also just for taste or for other purposes? Like, frogs use theirs to catch prey, right? And snakes use theirs to pick up scents so they know whether a prey or potential mate is nearby.

Also, how do we know tissue is clean? We take for granted that it is, but what guarantee do we have, really?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The loot

Dropped in at the Pay Less Books sale yesterday and got 8 books for RM47. Very pleased, especially as none of them were romance... no guilt! :p

Day before yesterday, visited BookXcess and got 2 books for RM17.90.

Okay, no more buying books till the end of the year!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Getting my own back

Me: How's thesis? :p
Florence: Don't ask sensitive question can or not :P

Misery loves company. Hurhurhur.

Friday, August 20, 2010

More characterisations

Mr TDH's comparison of Faye and I reminded me that several years ago, Esh told me I remind her of Chuckie from Rugrats. But she can't explain why.

I've never watched Rugrats, so I had to look it up. After looking it up, I can't explain why either. I'm certainly not a worrywart! That's my mom. No, I'm kidding. Well, only partially. But that seems to be part of the job description of a mom, anyway.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I love working here

Department coordinator: You look pale, take the rest of the day off and GO HOME!

Me: *meekly obeys*
Related: Life tip #712: Never underestimate the ability to look ill when you are actually ill.
This post-'flu fatigue or whatever you call it is really doing me in, though.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A meaner Sunflower

Mr TDH has me reading Questionable Content (a webcomic) after he told me yesterday that the character Faye -- the one with short brown hair and square-rimmed glasses -- reminds him a lot of me. "Except she's VERY much meaner," he said. That's ever so slightly scary!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Life tip #712

Never underestimate the ability to look ill when you are actually ill.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Putting life back into it

I feel as if my writing is getting stiff and boring; it's rarely spontaneous now. Recently Sharon reminded me of something Julia Cameron said in The Right To Write:
    Writing is about getting something down, not about thinking something up. Whenever I strive to "think something up", writing becomes something I must stretch to achieve. [...] When writing is about the importance of what we ourselves have to say, it becomes burdened by our concerns about whether the reader will "get it" -- meaning, get how brilliant we are. [...] Most of us are really willing only to write well, and this is why the act of writing strains us. We are asking it to do two jobs at once: to communicate to people and to simultaneously impress them. Is it any wonder that our prose buckles under the strain of doing this double task?

Blimey, this hits the nail on the head! I realised then that I overthink every single thing I write. Even my blog posts. I always want to write something that's "worth reading". No wonder I've never been able to do stream-of-consciousness posts no matter how hard I tried.

Talking to Alex about this, I told her I agonise over every word I choose when I blog. Her reply? "No wonder [your posts] are so polished you can see your reflection in them!" Good God, that's not the effect I've been aiming for! Polish is all very well, but it's so sterile. I want passion. Emotion. Flames dancing off the screen!!! Fail.

Cameron adds: We can either "think of something to write about" or we can write about what we happen to be thinking about. I'm going to have to find a way to turn my brain off.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A rose by any other name...?

Two people recently told me that Redoxon vitamin C is "very effective". But vitamin C is ascorbic acid... how can one brand's ascorbic acid be more effective than another's? Is there a variety of ascorbic acid? Highly unlikely...

Market perception and consumer psychology must be a pretty interesting subject.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"There's no rule that the piano can only be played with hands."

Lately I've been thinking about the amazing resilience of the human spirit. Whenever I contemplate any of the terrible things that might befall me, I always think, "I don't know if I could survive that." But when disasters actually strike, many people not only adapt, but even rise above their circumstances. Reader's Digest magazine is full of stories like those.

When I hear or read such stories, it always makes me wonder: if that were me, what would I have done? Would I have been able to hang on to hope? To remain cheerful, and not allow bitterness to consume me? Would I have persevered through sheer doggedness, or given up because it was so frustrating and painful? These are questions I suspect most of us pray we'll never have to confront face-to-face.

Watching this video this afternoon, I was amazed all over again. I play the piano and I can't imagine how this young man did it with his toes! But it's not just that. It's the fact that he's doing something nobody would have thought of, that people believed was impossible. In a newspaper interview, he said his first piano teacher quit, because the teacher didn't believe it was possible for anyone to play with toes. And indeed, he's limited because his toes can't stretch to play keys that are far apart, but he's developed his own style of playing to make up for that limitation.

On the show, he told the judges, "[After I lost my arms] I had two choices: to simply die a quick death, or to live a wonderful life." I like that thought, because that's a choice all of us can make for ourselves. Live a wonderful life.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fantastically felled by the 'flu (says she sarcastically)

I still don't believe the fairly common cough, sore throat, runny nose & body aches are really a form of 'flu in the strict medical sense, but either way... Clarinase is a wonder drug.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Conscious consumption

Last night I was looking at a pair of pink earrings. They were pretty. They were also RM40. Supposedly made of Swarovski crystal, but only a single bead. I thought of all the earrings I already have -- especially the pink ones -- and decided I didn't need a pair of RM40 earrings. They didn't seem worth the price... although they were pretty.

I suddenly feel very grown-up. Maybe my parents are finally starting to rub off on me.

Lately I've been thinking that it really wouldn't hurt me to get rid of some stuff I never use. There are a lot of things I could do without, if I were honest. Most things I own aren't necessities. I'm reminded of Logan Smith & Tammy Strobel's story about decluttering and living a simple life.

But while many people have blamed our modern spending habits on a desire to keep up with the Joneses, I don't believe that's always the main reason why people like to buy stuff. I never did accummulate things in order to prove anything to anyone. For me, it was the security of having things around: If I ever need it, it'll be there, was my way of thinking. Made me feel as if I was in control of my world. An illusion, but a comforting one nevertheless.

Besides, I deserve nice things, don't I? And I earn the money, right? So why shouldn't I buy nice things for myself? After all, not like anyone else is going to buy them for me... That was my reasoning. So, if I wanted it and I could afford it, why not? Why deprive myself? I deserve to be happy! Do you see the mental self-talk here? It's not called "retail therapy" for nothing!

Of course, advertising and marketing also exist to make customers want things they don't need. My eyes still light up when I see a "Sale!" sign, and it often makes me itch to buy something I otherwise would never have considered buying -- just because the product is temporarily available at a much lower price than usual. I don't know why I react this way. Maybe because it's a "good deal" and I just want to grab it before it's gone. I think the feeling of always wanting more, or better, is closely related as well: caused by the fear of losing out. Sometimes it's not that we're trying to impress anyone, but we're more focused on acquiring what we can so that we don't get cheated of... whatever it is. Never mind whether it's good or desirable or useful, as long as we don't miss out!

In the end, though, I still think a large part of it is a lifestyle choice. Living in the city, I can see how an Astro subscription (satellite tv) has become so common among middle-class working professionals that nobody really questions whether they really need one in their homes. I don't have anything against it; I'm just saying this is a lifestyle choice that people are making, often without even pausing to think about it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Random thoughts from browsing in a bookstore:
  1. I'm sad that Erle Standley Gardner's books have been out of print for years. It's not fair that Agatha Christie's continue to be so well-known & popular, when his were just as good as hers.

  2. P.S. I Love You was based on an unusual idea that had the potential to make a really great story, but Cecilia Ahern's writing style ruined it... too flippant and shallow, I think. Not enough emotion in the writing. A pity. Not going to ever read anything by her again.

  3. In contrast, The Time Traveler's Wife was brilliant... Audrey Niffenegger has a new book out, saw it at BookXcess. Maybe I'll get it. Only RM19.90, after all. Pretty cheap for a book these days.

  4. Why do publishers seem to think I want to have a huge picture of the author on the back cover? This is a horrible trend. What happened to the sypnosis? I couldn't care less what the author looks like! I want to know what the book's about!

  5. Back when I was a teen, I read a P.G. Wodehouse book (one of the Jeeves ones -- can't for the life of me recall the title) and remember it as being very funny... strangely enough have never read another Wodehouse book since. Why is that?

  6. Some books are better off being left in the past where they belong. When reread, they don't live up to the long-remembered magic.

  7. So many names I recognise on the spines, but have never read...

  8. And all those books I bought because I thought they'd look good on my bookshelves, and were worthy of reading -- still unread, too! *sigh*

  9. Freakonomics was one of the most fascinating non-fiction books I've read in recent years... I want Super Freakonomics but I think I'll wait to get it.

  10. Thinking of Freakonomics reminds me of Adeline Yen Mah -- I don't read that many non-fiction books. But Adeline Yen Mah's books are sooooo sad. (Autobiographical)

  11. There ought to be more books with cool titles like Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins. Stop trying to sound clever and interesting already. Just ends up sounding pretentious. "The Secret"?

  12. Dear Undercover Economist looks very interesting but RM43.95 for humour? It's just a collection of letters and clever-snarky answers! Oooh... website... *checks*... oooh the letters & replies are online at the author's website! Yay!

  13. Okay, reconnoitering done. Nothing I really want here, phew. Omg! I'm walking out of a bookshop without having bought anything!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sorceror's Apprentice

A bit surreal hearing a character say a line in a foreign language during an English movie... and understanding exactly what he said.

Balthazar: Tau fa ho leng.
Old Chinese lady: Oh, you speak Mandarin!

Me: *leaning over to friend & whispering* That's not Mandarin, that's Cantonese!

Balthazar: *whacks the old lady into a wall* That was Cantonese, Horvath.

*grins* I'm by no means a pro at either of the languages but I know in Mandarin it would've been "Ni de tou fa hen mei" ;)

Monday, August 9, 2010


Alex: Extreme people are exceedingly attractive. They're invariably more articulate, more cerebral, more intense... and then come the downsides.

Me: Are we talking about xXx now? hehehe

Alex: LOL I'm talking about ALL of us!


Alex: I know I am too, and so are you!

Me: I'm extreme? *gasps*

Alex: You are, in your own way.

Me: Hehe, yeah, in some ways. I prefer to call it "unconventional" :p

Alex: Euphemism. It's not a bad thing; we just need to learn how to live with it. For example, I know I won't be able to strike up meaningful conversations with "normal" people, so I don't beat myself up if I can't get into a deep chat with one.

Me: Hehehe, good example!
*     *     *     *     *     *

Actually I substitute "extreme" for "weird": I've always felt an affinity with unusual people because they're loads more interesting than "normal" people. They go against the flow, don't want to fit in with the crowd, have unorthodox methods and original ideas... the problem is that what makes them so interesting also makes them, well, eccentric, for lack of a better word, and therefore often very difficult to relate to or connect with.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Risking it

It's hard, being vulnerable. Especially the first time, to an unknown entity, in an chartered situation. One knows not where the wind will blow. Letting go, waiting to see if it is safe to take another step out. Feels like standing at the edge of a cliff. Giving another the power to push you over, or pull you in. No guts, no glory...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Who can fathom it?

I was just talking with django about moissanite, or rather he was talking to me about it -- small but important distinction :p  Moissanite? What's that? I had to look it up on google. Turns out it's a man-made diamond, or rather an synthetic diamond. Isn't language interesting? I could just as well have said 'fake diamond' but 'synthetic' sounds so much better!

What caught my interest was reading that this rock (crystal? gem?) is more sparkly than a diamond. An article I read said moissanite possesses a higher refractive index or brilliance (the sparkle) than a diamond at 2.65 to the diamond's 2.42... and also more fire or dispersion (the flashes) with .104 next to the diamond's measly .044. Plus it's almost as hard as the diamond, a 9.24 to the diamond's 10 on the Mohs relative hardness scale -- the second hardest jewel on the planet.

Amazing the things man can conjure up and create, don't you think? I wonder how many people look at the world around them and realise that in the modern world, nearly everything around us is created by human minds and hands. To me it's a miracle that we can work in offices 20 stories off the ground, drive around in what amounts to a metal box on wheels powered by some complex system (hey, it's complex to me!) -- things we take for granted every day. I wonder if architects ever get a sense of awe when they're drawing up plans for a house or office building... if engineers ever marvel when they're involved in setting up overhead train tracks for the inner-city train system. It's like creating something so much bigger than yourself, just sort of pulling it out of your mind or putting it together with your tools. Poof! You have this fantastic creation sitting on acres of land, being used by thousands of people.

That we have gone from swaths of land filled with jungle to vast regions covered by modern-day cities with skyscrapers and highways is... quite unbelievable. It's almost as if all this was created from nothing and sprang out of nowhere. Yes, I know we're building on hundreds, if not thousands of years of discovery, experimentation and study. It didn't really come from nowhere, nor did it appear overnight. But what I mean is, we're constantly discovering things we didn't even know were there to discover, going ever deeper into levels of complexity that no one could have imagined were even there to explore. I doubt we've even scraped the surface of what we can do, know, think, imagine.

If this is what we are capable of, what must God's mind be like? That really, really, really boggles mine.

Friday, August 6, 2010

On love

I love what this lady has to say about love. You really need to read the whole piece, but this is the part I love best:
    I'm going to say that if we're lucky, no, [love] doesn't grow. It is always just itself, even if it thrives. But if properly nourished, it does thrive. And the way it does that, the way it repays us for the feeding, is that it learns to clothe itself. Everything around it, love throws around its shoulders and wraps around its spidery hands. Time. Children. Money. Homes. Memory. Death. Sex. Language. Fear. Things that a couple can share like wine, they can be that rich and that heady. What we consume, love assumes. It puts all this on, layer upon layer, and protects itself like that.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

For the fun of it ;)

(Click image for larger view)


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

School ain't education

RedSheep tweeted the recent speech delivered by Erica Goldson, valedictorian for the 2010 graduating class of Coxsackie-Athens High School, New York:

    Some of you may be thinking, "Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn't you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible... [I]n retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system... I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning.

Sounds eerily like something one could say of our Malaysian education system, which is arguably a whole lot more steeped in rote-learning than the American one. I'd have echoed her words 15 years ago, except I wasn't top of my class. Because I didn't care enough to be. Which, even now, irks my father: "If you had studied harder, you could have done so much better," he says. But, I point out, I did proceed to university, I did graduate, I'm in a job I love, I'm a productive human being. Nobody cares now if I had 4As or 10As on the high school exit exam... why should it matter?

Winston Churchill is reputed to have said, "My education was interrupted only by my schooling," which is exactly how I felt for the 11 years I was in school. I couldn't wait to leave. I felt stifled, stuffed in a box. I didn't believe I was truly learning anything, and I scorned the idea that As were indicators of intelligence. They were only signs that one knew how to "work the system", as Erica says, and had memorised all the right things.

I'm not up-to-date with all the changes that have taken place in our education system since I left high school, but I doubt the basic framework has changed much. To this day I'm not sure how I passed Physics when I never understood it!

Monday, August 2, 2010

And now, to inject a little humour...

Discovered: Cartoonists Doug Savage (creator of "Savage Chickens") and Bill Greenhead (aka Stik, creator of "World of Cow").

Image source: WoC 797, by Stik


Image source: Brainstorming, by Dan Savage
I've had sessions like that!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Thinking aloud

I've always thought that, where a personal website is concerned, it's good to have a blog as a homepage because that brings people back to your page again and again. What's the point of having a site that people only visit once? No, you want to lure people in, and you do that by constantly offering new (and good quality!) content. That means when they come back, they're back for that new content, so you might as well give it to them first thing, rather than making them click through from the homepage to the blog.

On the other hand, a blog is a blog is a blog and instantly recognisable these days. So if a person visits your site for the first time, and sees "Oh, it's just a blog", they might not take the time to explore other areas of your website (remember, it's a personal website, so it has other stuff like photos, recipes, poems, your portfolio, etc. -- all neatly filed into other sections). It also doesn't look very professional, and as your website is meant to represent you in virtual space... well. If a prospective employer were to look you up on the Web, you'd want them to see something impressive.

As a result of these rather confused thoughts, I'm not sure now which is best practice. I'm not even talking about SEO (search engine optimisation), just from a design and user-friendly point of view. Maybe one way would be to have the front page excerpt part of the latest blog post or display only the latest blog post. Make it look more... "website-like" rather than "blog-like".

Yes, changes are afoot. Not to WilfulSunflower, though. This will stay as it is ;)