reflections on a self help book

"energy is 75% of where you want to be. if you don't have it, be nice."
-self help book

the book has a part on how the people who do well academically don't end up far in life. because we all know that studies and the ability to memorize facts only take you so far. of course, it's all very depressing for someone who feels that they are precisely good at memorizing facts.

don't despair. i am sure the other aspects of your personality can be worked on, as long as you undertake sufficient humility to learn them. of course, reading a book where you're clearly not the target audience (not even the direct target of criticism) isn't that entertaining. but perhaps i'm missing something.

reading rousseau for my essay (see, what use is a university education, how obscure!), you see the same romantic fervour. don't let boys touch books till they're 15. better they be peasants and school in gymnasiums where they wrestle in the nude, to promote love of competition, and imbue in them the spirit of a nation. books serve only to acquaint men with artificial passions, which only make them idle and soft.

there are intelligent and lazy people. i wonder though, if their intelligence is a curse, or if removing the intelligence from otherwise lazy people would merely make them stupid and lazy people. it is apparently true, to rousseau at least, that peasant and barbarian farmers and soldiers are imbued with virtue and a sense of duty and discipline, while "civilised" peoples grow corrupt and weak.

surely then that is what they mean. giving up your intelligence is no use if you're only going to use your knew found stupidity to waste your money on horses and drink. so, in addition to intelligence, have other attributes as well. otherwise you would just be substituting laziness in menial duty to laziness of thought.

what rousseau fails to see is that intelligence is sometimes at odds with society. voltaire always reproached him for preaching his spartan education with emphasis on sports, but abandoning his children to a nursing home. his response: "i would have made a bad father anyway." perhaps it was his erratic temperaments and need to write and complete his ideas which made him someone who would care less about his duties to others?

that is the seduction and temptation intelligence offers, that it is the key to unlocking the secrets to the universe. i have kids, but oh wait, i'm unlocking the universe. take care of my kids for me will you. so many creative minds have abrogated their duties in the belief that what they have is of worth to the human race.

so perhaps rousseau is right. you are worth nothing. better try to make it as a scientist or academic, but don't let your intelligence corrupt daily life. best leave it to people who get things done. the skepticism of rationality (why do this? why believe in god? why challenge yourself?), a necessary tool to the scientific method, only gets in the way of human vision.

perhaps i still have anachronistic values. i try to convince myself of the energy, but sometimes i'm resigned to being nice. of course i've the same worries as many yuppies. will i be happy, will i be rich, here's what they say to me. wanting to be financially independent, and despairing of alternative routes. failure of vision. i think the sweetest thing i heard today was "i hate christmas, because everyone is so happy", said in a very innocent voice (or so i think). totally unrelated, but it reminds me of my younger days. i'm such a realist nowadays (hate christmas? whatever for? positive thinking!!!) end with happy thoughts.

"i know, size can be daunting. but don't be afraid. i love you! i luuurve you!"
- happy feet

"it's okays. my philosophy's is profounds. i not expectings you to understands its easily."


come to think of it, london is a nice place.

i say this because technically i'm bored, sitting here in my expensive, small home in london, wondering why things cost so much here.

what i like about london

1. 6 different premiership clubs to watch soccer at
2. if soccer's not your thing, a range of sporting events from horse-racing to wimbledon and the ashes
3. musicals from avenue q to wicked
4. the sheer number of races and thus different kinds of food here
5. the depressing weather
6. the ability to shop at endless shops.
7. city comforts such as many pubs, clubs and films
8. more than one queer market: camden, spitalfields, portobello, borough etc
9. the mother river and its many bridges
10. the incongruous architecture
11. the sense of history
12. random events, guy fawkes, new years eve are celebrated with big fireworks
13. romantic
14. big shots stay here, which comforts my celebrity obsessed self.

what i don't like about london

1. housing is expensive
2. everything else in "what i like" is expensive
3. a tad unfriendly
4. things are small
5. no air-con
6. so quite during xmas
7. cost of transport
8. no singaporean food or hawker style food which is cheap and good.


after the endless christmas dinners and boxing day sales, i guess i have to resign myself to the fact that life is getting a bit boring. that means taking out the dusty textbooks and flipping through some of them.

i thought i had my fill of travel in italy, but no sooner then life settles down to a tepid routine that i start flipping through brochures dreaming of where i can go next. of course, i won't be going anywhere because the sales have absorbed my pounds.

i am such a consumer.


the world's first consumer boycott was against slave-produced sugar in the west indies in the 18th century. i find the scale of it amazing.


i used to think beyond university lay an endless amalgam of events known as adult life, which consist of various episodes of slaving until retirement if you're lucky, and spending the rest on keeping yourself alive.

now that adult life is here i guess i have to accept that life doesn't end after university. there are proper jobs which are supposed to provide challenge and fulfilment, stuff to buy for the very first time etc.

now that i stare at applications it is very difficult to trick my mind that life hasn't ended, and that i haven't been sent to hell already. either

1. nobody likes doing applications

the question is, why doesn't anyone like them?

a. maybe the job is not right for you
b. you're just lazy to write another 500 words on the greatest experience/failure of your life, so you convince yourself the job is not right for you.
c. you don't like to bullshit

[you don't have to bullshit if you have the goods don't you?]

to employer: read my blog

*horror* no better not. then blogs will become templates of working in teams overcoming obstacles and challenges and being good fits for organizations.

i blame corporations for all my negativity. boo. how did i ever do my scholarship applications.

Ford worker on assembly line: screw in 10th bolt on front left tire repeat x1000
Me: Do applications.

what do they have in common? do something, get dough.


why blog personal thoughts?

"i don't really want to know, too much detail aside", i think, done well, it makes you more human.

it's more than the holidays you went for, what you did over the term. i'm really starting to appreciate what a holiday is, by my standards i've been a little too focused.

why do personal thoughts make you human?

because they show me what it means to doubt.

in the stories, it's not all about doing good. it's not even about the process. it's about the characters.

the arno, and ponte vecchio

florence bored me to bits. i have good memories of who wants to be a millionaire though. to be fair, there was a lot of renaissance art which i wished i understood better. and i don't think tuscany is famous for winter. i preferred the countryside in the south.

the arno by night

vesuvius smoking

pompeii with vesuvius in the background.

we also visited rome, but it's the usual suspects. the colosseum, the mother church, spanish steps etc... the mother church did awe michelle and i had great fun making noises of angelic revelation. also, i return with an elaborate fantasy of how iraqis flee their country. i met a kurdish guy on the train from bari to rome with no baggage, and i thought how he must have riden on a camel through cappadocia, swam across the bosphorous and hiked through montenegro and albania before being a castaway on a freighter bound for brindisi. he then had a ticket to bari, rome, and onwards to paris and london. BIG language problems, but it gave me great pleasure to attempt to relieve the boredom of this 18 year old hero.

the sassi of matera. we took three trains, pissed off michelle by running down the main street in naples only to catch a delayed train, had to stay the night over in bari. we were expecting a poor, impoverished town in basilicata, but it's much richer now. it's claim to fame are its sassi which are basically cave dwellings, and the fact that mel gibson filmed the passion of christ there because the entire town dows look like jerusalem. we went into a restaurant twice because we loved the way they cooked beans. enjoyed watching the local christmas fair and what teenagers do in a quiet town. they gather in the town square to talk to each other and eat gelato and down shots. it is the kind of town you improve your italian in, although i was amused to find a bunch of chinese merchants. also, hard to find atm, and don't hang around small italian towns on sundays, they close the train station and make it very hard for you to get out so that all of you have to fall on your knees and praise the lord.

it's set in a ravine.

our other favourite place is venice, but everyone knows about that.

murano is where they make glass. it looks like a nice retirement town. boats, water, colourful facades. if i'm not mistaken though, norwegian boating towns do look like that too and maybe a little prettier. if only we all spoke the local language.

shakira sounds like an electric guitar. also, i am starting to like bruch's concerto more than mendelssohn's.
let me start by an astute philosophical justification of travelling by michelle. it goes something like this (my recollection):

"i am here travelling to the most remote places precisely to get away from society. i quite enjoyed meeting the californian backpacker, but it wasn't fun anymore when i realised i had to entertain him. this whole notion of a traveller's community can just go to hell."

i like that, especially when you are really looking for that whisky advertisment moment, alone on a mountain somewhere or fishing in some remote ravine/village, or caught three trains to get to it. of course, when you're going to rome or something, you're bleeding asking for it, and travelling alone can get boring anyway.

and it's true, not reading fiction a long time makes you worry. reading generation x obviously never rings true anymore, it's so obviously wrong and juvenile, (oh we all hate tobias cause he's rich and sexy), but i'm also mostly obviously wrong and juvenile and much fun to laugh at myself. i need my weirdness back. i'd like to say that fiction is like santa claus, except that i have more faith in santa claus at the moment.

"why people are so lazy" it seems so obvious. usually, you get some form of reward for working hard. you get even more when you pack your days with activities, fun and laughter. so why do people sit around and choose to do nothing? fiction, love songs, and religion (and even those oh-so emotional moments when life does seem like a story with a beginning an end and countless chapters for forgiveness and revenge), they all need contemplation. that is why you shouldn't rush. that is why noisy churches don't work for me, everything is so obviously fake to me, that i need time to convince myself they are real. shakira is real, the tv says so.

there is more than one way to feel alive, thank you.


oh my god almond thin crisps (spekkuk?) are the most addictive biscuits ever.
4 guys idea of a Saturday night out ended up in trocadero at piccadilly, because everywhere else is godforsakenly crowded on saturday night

i enjoyed it very much, because it ended up being a nostalgia trip on me. we took part in the veritable british institution, the trivia, albeit in arcade format. we had great fun pissing off a few brits, who must have thought, "those damn chinese kids." after we let them win a few rounds, we'd go in for the jackpot, and i'm sure it was all smiles at the end.

omg i miss cobratrivia and geog challenge etc... i love all these games lying around for people who have nothing much left in their lives but regurgitate all the useless knowledge that they had cause they surfed the net too often. that's me.

now i have enough tickets to get my girlfriend a nice prize.