26 April 2007

Blogs help me make meaning over time

Very often we feel like the whole year zooms by us before our eyes and we only acknowledge this at the end of each year, very often finding ourselves repeating the same routine of saying "Wow, the year went by so fast!" without feeling like we accomplished anything significant.

I guess at times, I look back at the end of the month and feel like the month went by and I did nothing! But as we all know, 4 weeks is a long, long time and surely things must have happened, even if they were the same ol' same ol' things. Some people may have finished watching the whole series of a particular show, or others may have managed to clear their desks.

These may all seem like small little things but they're still accomplishments! We tend to only notice big ones like "Woah, I lost 10 pounds!" or something along those lines.

This is why journals are useful. At times when you feel like you haven't progressed, reading previous entries may shed light on how far you've really gone! I looked at my little notebook I use to keep track of my drumming progress and it brings a smile to me everytime I look at some exercises that used to totally stump me which I can breeze right through now :). I look forward to reading this entry 1 year later and thinking back what I was thinking today when I wrote this :P.

Right now, I'm at work, sitting at my desk, being completely evil by typing up this entry in my blog >:) because I'm allowing myself a short break between my bursts of work. I just learnt that in Flash CS3, they've re-engineered the way it imports .PSD and .AI files!! Woah, it's become so powerful now! I love it! I can't wait to give it a shot when I can give Flash CS3 a proper test for myself. I'm looking forward to getting my head wrapped around the whole CS3 series and their new features and eventually (and finally!) get Adobe Certified :) I'm confident I'll breeze through at least the Flash, Dreamweaver and Photoshop tests, however, Illustrator and Acrobat, I may have a slight problem with :(. Who knows? Well me, eventually because 1 year later when I re-read this entry, I'll know.

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25 April 2007

Oops, I walked mountain again

Woohoo! I did it again, I managed to get myself out of bed this morning and hit the Morning Trail for a good start to my day. I must say, I'm feeling much better emotionally since Monday, I guess I just had time for me to calm down and be happy. I guess the early morning hikes really help as well!

Speaking of hikes, the term "walk mountain" is a direct translation of hiking in Chinese. I have this habit of directly translating Chinese to English if it sounds better to me. For example, when I go to an ATM machine to get money, I tell people I'm going to go "press money". When I go for a walk up the mountain, it's "walk mountain". Well, I like calling them that, even if you don't :P.
Tomorrow's the big Day 10 entry and to be honest, I have no real words of wisdom for tomorrow's entry, well none yet. I haven't been reading much and not really been enriching my life in that sense, but I do have to say I've been reading the book The Best a Man Can Get: A Novel that my girlfriend lent me and it's the first non-fiction and non-computer related book I've read in years!! As much as every now and then I feel like I'm not really learning from it, it's still good, lets me enjoy a good read with no strings attached and no software to learn along with it. I'm almost done with it and aim to finish off the last 40 pages by this weekend.

Anyways, let's see if I stumble upon some great ideas for tomorrow's Day 10 entry :). As I've come to realize recently, a lot can happen in just 24 hours.


23 April 2007

Walk mountain before work and in the heavy rain

I did it! I finally managed to go up for a walk along the Hong Kong Morning Trail before heading off to work!!
I woke up and saw that it was raining a bit and thought "well, it's just light rain, it'll keep me cool" but once I was ready, it was pouring cats and dogs! Both my dad and grandmother didn't really like the idea of me going in this weather especially since it was a lot of slopes (which meant i would be going downhill the way back) and to be honest, I almost gave up... eventually I remembered what one of my old, old teachers back in Diocesan Boys' School (my secondary school) said "if I don't do it today, I'll say the same excuse tomorrow and it'll never happen". True words that have stuck with me till today which was what helped me through with going up for that morning hike!
At first, when I got down my apartment, the rain was quite scary because it was quite windy as well and I was worried my umbrella would give way and break apart and then I'd be in big trouble.
I put on my headphones and just kept my eyes to the ground and kept charging as if my umbrella was a shield fighting off the enemy that was the wind and rain. It took quite a lot of effort and my only fuel was my willpower to do it along with a bag of seedless grapes (yum!).
As I walked closer to the trail, there were less and less people and eventually when I reached the trail I thought perhaps the areas where there were warning signs saying Beware of Flash Floods may be something I should look out for. A few minutes into my morning trail and I noticed someone walking down then realized that probably means the trail is alright so I kept charging upwards.
Oddly, the uphill felt longer than before, every time I imagined I was almost there, I'd come across yet more roads before I'd reach there. So where's there? There are a flight of stairs that you can take and then enjoy the great breath-taking view of Hong Kong. I didn't manage to take a photo of it because it was quite windy and I was trying to reach Pinewood Battery as soon as possible (my aim was within 30 minutes).

I finally reached Pinewood Battery and it was empty! Woah, I loved it, it was the peaceful emptiness I really needed today! I sat around and started talking to myself and then began to build the courage to just shout out all my frustration! I was yelling happily and freely! "What do you want from me!?" I cried asking the world why I was feeling so miserable (special lady friend problems really) and then I just continued walking around and talking to myself. After a few moments, I figured this was a worthy sight to remember so I took out my camera and filmed the area down with a little soul-full voice over just for myself :) and then snapped a few static photographs just to remember what it looked like.
I have to say, at that moment, I really did feel alone but not completely alive. Yes I wanted my girlfriend with me so I decided to send her an SMS telling her where I was and that I loved and missed her because as of that moment, that's how I really felt. We ended up texting each other a few more messages and well it was nice because I just wanted to hear her voice or messages at that moment.
Eventually I went back down because I had to get to work by 10am, so I headed back down the stairs only to see a completely fogged up view of Hong Kong (it was a cloak of gray/white color) which is why I never managed any other photos other than Pinewood Battery.
It hit around 9:20am when I was out of the trail and back to Kotewall Road (the city!) and I decided to treat myself to a sandwich at Hong Kong University's Pret-a-manger and then headed home, got ready and hit the stairs down to the office.
What a morning, my mind cleared up a lot, I can't say I'm feeling perfect now but I do feel a bit better and I'm glad I managed to do that, one more thing to check off my list :) I guess from here I have to keep moving forward with my life and myself and my thinking. Sometimes, things just need time and they resolve themselves much like the rain that died down completely when I was going back down the trail, but it doesn't hurt to keep an umbrella with yourself while it's still pouring.


15 April 2007

New printer - designs, here I come!

I've finally got a new printer, the lovely Canon PIXMA MP530 All-in-one. Ah, no more HP PSC2310! I'll admit, when I got the HP printer, it was worth it and pretty good, but after the years and all the hassles I've had with it, not to mention the crazy ink prices, I think it's time I moved on and went with another brand. Alongside my Canon Powershot A640 digital camera comes this new printer and all I can hope for (fingers crossed) is that it works perfectly!

Lugging the %@#$ Canon printer home was no joke but once I got it back, set it all up and printed my first document, I was all smiles! The text was sharper than I'd ever seen coming out of my old HP printer. Speaking of that old printer, I'm probably going to see what I can do with it and use it as a secondary printer or a spare or something, I really don't want to just get rid of it, but the damn scanner keeps getting jammed to the point I'm sick of having to wake up every morning hoping the printer wont screw up. Sheesh, especially not when I'm tight on some deadline or thought I'd print out some drum tabs so it's easier for me to learn!

Yikes, today's the big Day 10 and I've actually been so busy I don't have much to say other than Brain Sync's Positive Thinking audio is more depressing than anything else! Every time I listen to it and I'm in a crowd, it feels like I'm in a movie, some artsy movie where you don't hear the people in the scene but a very dream-like soundtrack playing and a voice over telling you how life feels so empty. I really don't know if I should keep this up but I'll give it another week. The last time I properly heard the whole 30 minute track, I ended up coming home feeling pretty down and meaningless. I mean I'm greatful for what I have, but at that moment, I just felt like such a loser, just doing the same ol' same ol' everyday, going to work, coming back, trying to get stuff done, then going to sleep. Sometimes I really don't know if I should see this as a blessing or as a curse -- my need to make meaning sometimes really drains me out because I just wish at times I would be satisfied just watching TV then hitting the sack. I mean, honestly satisfied, just not "Oh well, that was good enough" but more like "Yay, I enjoyed just doing nothing and watching that show and burning up all that time!" without the guilt of what I could have accomplished.

Anyways, let's see how things go now that I'm nearing the end of my full-time job and the world will be oyster once again! :D

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12 April 2007

Note to self - understand your bank

I finally did it. Probably one of everyone's biggest fears in life -- not realizing you didn't have enough money in your bank account and the bank doing what banks love doing banking on your hard on cash.
So here I am thinking I'm a-ok with money in my bank account, only to find out it's in my ^$*@# Savings account! When you need to spend stuff from that account, where does it come from? Your Current account. Of course, foolish me messed it up and I'm pretty sure one of my bills is probably going to cost me a lot more because of an ^$@&# overdraft now.
Fingers crossed the bill came in one day late :P Damn you HSBC! You're not fooling anyone behind your acronym! I know who you really are... Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.
Just thought I'd vent a little. Now I'm back to normal, time to get to work!


09 April 2007

Walked mountain + Positive Thinking

Weee! I did it! On my GTD's Someday/Maybe, I always had 'Walk up to the peak at 6am' and boy am I glad I did it! Oddly enough, it took me 3 days to actually blog about it (I walked up on Monday, 9th April 2007 because it was a public holiday) which really goes against my whole point of using GTD :P so I'm going to set this blog post to be 9th April ;)

Well, all I can say is, it's really great walking around the peak and enjoying the view of Hong Kong listening to Sacred Earth Drums. It's so calming and peaceful yet inspiring and zen-like. I came home by 10:30am and still had the whole day ahead of me! It felt like I had lived through two days instead of one. I managed to get so much stuff done. By noon, I was already halfway through whatever I had to do and had planned out what had to be done/bought/taken care of in the afternoon. Normally, I'd be planning my afternoon.... in the afternoon! I was hoping to go up for a walk at 6am again, but it was raining at that time on Tuesday so I just stayed home and worked on my drawing techniques and drumming a bit before I went off to work. When I get a chance, I'll sort through all my photos of my trip and put them up online.

My aim would be to go up every morning at 7am and stop halfway at the Pinewood Battery and do my morning breathing exercises and get back by 9am so I can practice my drums a bit and be ready for work by 10. I'll have enough time to listen to some inspiring and awakening music as well as catch up on audio books I've been meaning to get through.

Speaking of listening to stuff. I've finished approximately 6 weeks worth of Brain Sync's Super Learning and have progressed onto the Positive Thinking audio. Let's see what happens six weeks from now.

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05 April 2007

Be more creative in 5 steps

I've been thinking and after a lot of reading and researching and trial and error-ing, I finally gathered a set of tools that will help you become more creative. So here they are:

Connect the dots... differently
Creativity is all about connecting two things that weren't connected before. It's not necessarily about coming up with something brand spanking new, but it's simply using something that exists in a new and different way. For example, if you have 3 cups all filled with different levels of soup and a spoon, chances are you will most probably use the spoon to scoop out the soup. Instead, you could have used the spoon to tap on the cups and you've got yourself a musical instrument!
So the next time you have an object in hand, look at it differently, throw away its normal use and think of it another way. Some other ways that spoon could have been used:
  • By lifting it up, one may realize it could be used as a paper weight.
  • Many kids use it as mini swords
  • Bar tenders use the back of the spoon to pour alcohol on so the drink flows lightly into the glass under it. I've seen many use this when making a B-52 shot.
  • What about shining a light and using the spoon as an extension of your hand for shadow puppets?

Think backwards
Instead of thinking of what the spoon can be, think of what is cannot be! A spoon can never be a fork... or can it (this is where the idea comes about)? Perhaps hold the spoon the other way round (your hand holding the round end that you would normally scoop soup with) and you may be able to poke objects.
What else can the spoon not be? Perhaps it can never be a chainsaw... or can it? Maybe one end of the spoon can have a jagged edge so you can use the spoon as a knife. Some of you may be wondering, wouldn't that cut your hand easily while holding it? Yes, yes it would, but it's an idea we can work off of. Perhaps the spoon can become like a pair of scissors on the end you normally hold it.

Change one thing about it
Stop and list out all the attributes you can think of about the object and change one attribute at a time to see what happens. For a spoon, the list of attributes would include:
  • Round/oval shape at one end
  • one long, straight handle
  • Made of metal or plastic
Now let's change one attribute. Let's say we change the round/oval shape and replace it with a rectangle. Now you can scrape that cream off the edge of the ice cream cup. What if we made the long straight handle into a long but L-shaped handle? I hope you see what I'm trying to get at, the ideas will keep flowing!

Ignore it
Yes, this is my favorite step. Incubate the idea by ignoring it.
Basically, allow your subconscious to have a play with it by putting it aside. During this time, you may decide to go out and go for a swim or play a game of tennis. Wait a second, tennis! Maybe the spoon can be like the racket and have holes in it so it acts like a strainer as well! The good thing about putting aside your creative process is that you open up your mind to other realms of possible connections as well as give your subconscious a crack at it :) It's never been a better time to get lazy!

Be stupid
The last step I take is to be completely idiotic about the whole process. This is where I let out the monkeys in the dungeon that is my brain (FYI, http://www.monkeydungeon.net actually goes to my portfolio ;p). Basically this is where you just run wild with the above four points. You give yourself, say, half an hour of nothing but free and stupid thinking.
Connect the dots... differently. You start connecting the spoon to, say, a web camera and suddenly you have the idea of being able to film via a spoon. Maybe something parents will find cute to do for their one year old or that art student will use in his/her next avant-garde video assignment.
Think backwards. So maybe you film yourself eating with a spoon and then play the video backwards or even upside down.
Change one thing about it. What if the spoon had eyes? It could direct you towards your food while your eyes may be focused on the newspaper during breakfast?
Ignore it. Maybe you can pretend your spoon is trying to tell you something and you don't want to listen, so you start shouting "la la la la la la !" at it. From that, you may get the idea of a spoon that has music playing out of it? What if the spoon would make a remark depending on how hot or cold it gets. For example, when you use it to scoop ice cream it goes "wow, iceeey!" and when you scoop hot soup, it shouts "Ouch! Hot! Hot!".. a novelty item right there.

So from now on, just go nuts. No more "Oh, I'm not the creative type" talk. Keep these five steps in mind and you're good to go!

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