24 July 2008

Racing against time

These past 10 days has felt like a real race against time. Somehow, when I realized it'd been 10 days since my last entry, I felt like I got nothing done in this period of time.
So here I am, sitting in my bed with my trusty laptop, enjoy the comforts at 1:25am on a Wednesday night/Thursday morning. I got some nice relaxing tunes going on after plugging my ears with Lamb of God's Sacrament album all day. Boy it's so good yet to hard to listen to because every song is so freaking good I can't wait to be able to cover one or two of them! Would be like a dream come true. Lamb of God songs have some ridiculous drum parts if you ask me.

Everyday of this week has been a real race against time before there are so many things I want to and need to get done and it's no longer a matter of managing my time properly, I've got that down well now, but more like I need to make sure everything I'm doing tries to keep things as efficient as possible. A lot of people have told me I'm over-doing it when I even try to make my rest as efficient as possible. I know, I know, it sounds like overkill, but for example, I know I need to go out later on, and I'll need to shower before I leave the house. So during my rest, instead of sitting here for 30 minutes resting, I might as well spend some of that time showering, since showering is kind of good rest for me, not to mention it saves me 10 minutes later on when I'm getting ready to leave. Yes, now that I look at it, it is in a way overkill, but those saved 10 minutes really do add up for me, like right now, instead of it being 1:42am, it's 1:32 am :) And you all know how 10 minutes of extra snooze time early in the morning can be like hitting the jackpot.... so you see what I mean?

I still feel like I have a lot to get done before this week ends, not to mention I need to be well prepared for a meeting/presentation I have due on Friday. It's all stuff that needs to be done and it's like I know I can do it, I just have to do it! You ever have those moments when you know how to do everything but you just want to get it done already, but your limited by your human abilities (ie. concentration levels, etc.) and it frustrates you? Like on paper, I can totally see myself get everything in my to-do list completed one after another. It's mainly all labor work on my part, but it's just impossible to get done within even a 16 hour period. Wow, I'm rambling again aren't I?

Well, I've been thinking about something lately, about which is more important, the final outcome, or the journey that brought you there. If you refer to one of my first few entries "Achieving the Undefined Goal", Bruce Mau has a great quote which really does make sense. If we have a goal and work towards it, chances are we'll only achieve that goal, but if we go for the journey without knowing where it will lead, we will go to new places. In many ways, that's what every day is to me now. I don't know what might happen tomorrow, but I do know that I'm not stupid so the path I'm taking is well thought out. Sure I may not have a specific goal in sight, but at least I can trust myself enough to know I'm not just randomly stepping around without a direction. It's actually kind of hard to work without a goal in sight/mind. In a way it's kind of like going one level higher that achieving a goal. Don't confuse this with having no goal. It's like a person "breaking the rules" withot knowing the rules to begin with. When I was in university, a lot of my classmates use to use the "Break the Rules" as an excuse for their artwork. In many ways, they didn't even know what the rules were and whatever rules they did end up breaking was all just a lucky strike to be honest. So it takes one to know the rules, to really have abided by them, before he/she can properly go out of the boundries and really break these rules effectively. In the same way, it takes one to have a goal in mind, to then walk away from the maze of paths towards that goal and see the bigger picture. Wow, I'm not saying I'm some enlightened being who is seeing the world from a higher perspective, I'm just trying to justify my lack of a big goal. Actually come to think of it, I do have goals, maybe not the typical goal like "I want to get a high score" or "I want to make $40,000 a month", but more like a goal where I want to make sure what I do is building towards a greater asset -- me. After reading the book Rich Dad Poor Dad, I've become obsessed with building assets for myself that will later pay off and allow me to own liabilties (if you're confused, you really should read the book :P), I mean I keep trying to add more to my personal repertoire of what I can offer to the world, like my stand-up comedy, a continuous effort to add more and more material into my vault. My web design services have improved and I'm able to confidently offer some services I used to always be confused about. My drumming's gotten better allowing my band to play heavier songs and I'm able to keep up and add to the mood. My productivity's gotten more efficient, allowing me to reduce the amount of frustration I face and get more stuff done, and also my personal habits have become better, in the sense no more are the 6 am sleeping times for me. I enjoy my day time and I'm keeping it that way. Late nights were great to get stuff done, but the unhappy mood I used to get after a week of not seeing light used to make none of it worthwhile ;(.

In a way, my race against time is just me focusing more on my journey than the outcome. I haven 't stopped to notice how much I've gotten done because I want to keep going, which in a way keeps me satisfied because I know I'm going going going! So this time, I've taken the reverse option of not looking back, just keep going! You can look back anytime, but the moment you turn your head, you could trip, you could lose your direction and not to mention you could become big headed thinking "wow, I've done so much, I deserve a pat on the back for all this." I guess those who know my know that I'm not big on getting compliments nor am I big on giving them. I'm not a heartless guy, but more like I'm not as easy/generous with compliments as most other people. So if you get a compliment from me, know that it is very well deserved. Since I'd personaly prefer to get a well deserved compliment over a polite one any way..

Ahh 1:56am, my Day 10 entry is complete. And to compliment this, the online radio station I'm listening to is playing one of those rolling credits after a victorious win songs you'd see in movies... so I should take this as my cue to get some zz's becuse tomorrow's going to be a BIG day :P Lots of stuff to get done, so go for it!! OGGOGOGOOGGGOGOGOGO!!!!!!


15 July 2008

In bed

Technically, yesterday was my Day 10, but I'm not really late because I haven't gone to bed yet, so it's still, in my terms, Monday to me right now :P

So I thought I'd share some good things with everyone, seeing as a lot of my posts are usually me sulking about how tough life is or how I need to improve myself to attain a certain level of satisfaction. Lately, I've been really noticing improvements in my drumming because I've gained a lot more control (and speed) over many aspects of my music. Stuff I remember totally going "no freaking way" a few months ago is like "woohoo I did it!" now! It's a great, great feeling if you know how impossible something felt, yet you can do it now, makes you really feel like the world is your oyster. And indeed it is! I've always been a firm believer that nothing is impossible, it's just a matter of putting in the effort to attain what you want to attain. I still remember a few years ago, I was looking into the mirror air drumming and thinking "it'd be so cool if I was a drummer!! I'd be like this awesome rockstar rocking it out!" and guess what! I am a drummer now and I do rock out! Ahaha even when I'm at home, just practicing, I really get into it and go insane! :D It's really good to just shut the world off for 1 hour and go berserk for that period. For some reason, once I get on my drumkit, it's like nothing else matters, I don't care if I have 305353535030392004 things due, I'll tend to it when I'm done with my practice/jamming. It's a good feeling, especially when you pick up exercises you did a few weeks ago, and try them now and totally blow yourself away with how easy it feels! The other day, I was practicing some hand exercises. The last time I did them, I was hitting 180 bpm (beats per minute), and when I picked them up again a monthe later (sometimes I do other exercises in between if I get tired of one book) I was hitting like 220 bpm! I actually stopped and re-checked my notes to make sure I was doing this right and I was!! 40bpm in a month! Now some people might be tapping their thighs right now thinking "er, I seem to be doing 300 bpm, what's the big deal?". No. I'm not talking just 220bpm, I'm talking 220bpm at 16th notes, which makes it 220 x 4 (don't asky why, it just is) = 880! Woohoo! Sure, there's bound to be another drummer who thinks this is no biggie, well it really isn't that good, but to me it's freaking awesome I hit 880 hits per minute! 1000 hits, here I come! :P You know what? The guy with the fastest hands in HK is at 974 hits per minute, so 100 more hits and I might get the new title :P Exciting. Another thing I can tell you is when I first started drumming, I thought 900 hits a minute was totally, ridiculously out of this world! Like I couldn't conceive how the hell a person could do that in just 60 seconds! Let's say 900 hits in 60 seconds means each second you need to be doing 15 strokes! But like I said, nothing is impossible and my drumming has always reminded me this, and lucky me, I keep a log of my progress which means I can always look back and compare where I was and where I am. Don't get me wrong, this hasn't happened overnight, nor has it happened without its fair share of frustration for me! I've had so many occasions where I've been fed up with my drumming abilities, always feeling like I'm just lacking in so many things, and you know, being a metal band doesn't help because metal is all about power and speed, 2 things that only come over time! Even now, when I'm jamming, I can still feel there is so much more I need to improve on to reach the level I want my band to be at for our music. Sigh, but again, I'm not upset about this, this constant need for improvement and change actually is a good thing, it makes sure I never hit a rut or a plateau in my playing, much like my fitness as well.

Anyone who's looked a bit into personal fitness knows that after a certain period, our bodies hit a plateau when it comes to fitness and your progress kind of slows down a lot. You have to constantly change your routine and give your body a new challenge before it'll respond with improvements. This also keeps things fresh and also makes sure it weeds out those that really want something, and those that are just in it for a good time. I'm not saying it's wrong to just scratch the surface of stuff, everyone's got their own style and everyone's got their own passion. I scratch the surface of a lot of things, not because I'm not a passionate guy, but simply because I may not have the same amount of passion towards something as the next guy, and it's not wrong in any way. Heck, I'll give you an example. I've always wanted to draw by hand, I think it helps me express my ideas if I could draw properly, I want to get all these images in my head on paper. I've tried working at it, but never really got much success because I always end up stopping halfway because I'm busy. Now those who know me, know that I'm one to say there's no such thing as "no time", you make time. You find ways to make the time. I can make time to improve my drawing skills, however, I chose not to. Heck, if I really didn't have time, then surely I shouldn't have time to practice drums either? Get my point? I've come across a lot of people that actually tell me how they're frustrated with their life because there's so much they want to do, yet they can't because they have no time to do it. You know, you can still get good at something even with 10 minutes of practice a day. Heck, if you really want to push it, make every commuting minute time to learn that one thing you always wanted to learn. Take off those headphones and stop staring into blank space, and just go learn that thing you wanted to learn! Even if it's 5 minutes a day, in a week, you've hit 35 minutes, in a month you'll have spent 2 hours! 2 hours in a month may not seem a lot, but spread over 4 weeks, your mind is given time to digest what you learnt in 5 minutes each day and you'll be shocked how much you can improve already! :P

Yes, I'm going on and on and on once again, I know, but this is a topic I really enjoy -- self-improvement. I always believe people can improve. Again, a little info about me. I'm one of those guys that don't believe people can change. By this I mean, once a crook, always a crook. I have yet to meet someone who has truly changed. I've met a lot of people who can control themselves better, but they're still the same person as they were before at heart. Like a drunkard is a drunkard to me. You can stop yourself from drinking, but deep down inside you're still the alcoholic you were. Again, I hope to be proved wrong one day because I do believe this is a rather grim way of viewing the people of this world :\. Anyways, going back to self-improvement. However, as much as I believe people don't change. I do firmly believe people can improve and upgrade themselves. A crook can upgrade him/herself to be a more sophisticated crook. A comedian can improve himself to be more spontaneous and natural. You get my drift. And this is something I aim to do daily. I know my personal quota of learning everyday is 2 hours approximately. I know after 2 hours of reading, I hit a point that I'm reading for the sake of reading and it's really a the point where I'm getting diminishing returns of knowledge really. So knowing this, I try my best to take advantage of those hot 2 hours each day and fit in whatever it is I'm trying to get better at or learn. Oh, these 2 hours are the amount of time I can spend reading about something. My drumming practice goes by another system. Just FYI, after 1 hour of drumming, I also end up wasting time. By 1 hour, I mean 1 hour of honest, intense practicing, not mucking around and jamming and stuff. 1 hour usually gives me 3 solid exercises to work on alongside an initial warm up routine.

Hmm, my eyes are slowly closing, I suppose being in bed is sometimes too comforting and that probably explains why I'm typing so damn much in this post. Ahaha, I just feel like I've had all this time to think about so many things, I want to spill them all out and get them written down asap. But if you've read so far, you might as well read on, heck you've spent all this time already, it wouldn't do you justice to stop now. Actually that's another thing I was thinking about. You know how sometimes you're at the bus stop and you're waiting for a bus and it just doesn't come. 20 minutes later, you're thinking if you should just go and find an alternative way to get to where you're going, but you're worried that once you leave, the bus will come, and you end up waiting for an hour, when you could have been home had you just walked from the get go? That, I must say, is something I really hate happening, which also explains why I much prefer walking everywhere than depending on a bus.

So going back to what I was saying, today, is my celebration of where I'm at. I think you should do that for yourself too. It's not often we stop and turn around and look back with a smile. Most of the time we only see where we haven't reached or we only notice all the paths we didn't take, but we don't retrace our steps and appreciate the path we did take and where it's lead us. Sure, this is easier said than done, but it does help to have a log of your pathway. Like I said for my drumming, my log book has been gold in keeping me motivated and encourages me to keep pushing because I do see results! It's a (good) vicious cycle. I see improvements, I want to work harder, I work harder, I see more imporvements! Woohoo! So yes, stop and be happy to be where you are, heck, just be happy to be alive! If your life seems to be in the shitters right now, just put on your favorite song, stop for 1 hour and tell the world to go down the drain (what I do when I go to the gym or when I'm drumming) and just do what you love. I'm serious. It'll do you good :).

Of course, when that 1 hour's up, you have to step back into the craziness that is your life. But before you do, ask yourself this, how many people get to be you? Much like everyone says their family is the worst/craziest, everyone thinks their life is the toughest, but you know deep down inside, your life is the toughest out of them all, so how many people not only get to be you, but survive being you, on a daily basis? Not many, and for that, you deserve a pat on your back.

And I deserve a massage. Hmm, I really could use 1. Have a good day! :D Off to snooze it up!

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05 July 2008

Slam Dunk

Alright, so I'm a bit late for my Day 10 entry, but better late than never right?
So I've been busy yadda, yadda, yadda, but recently I've been watching a lot of videos of NBA's Slam Dunk competition on YouTube and boy did that bring back memories. No, I can't dunk, but it did make me remember the days I used to play a lot of basketball and used to want to jump higher and higher and higher. The odd thing is, I never knew how, I just thought "when there's a will there's a way" and figured heck if I want it bad enough and I play more and more basketball, I'm sure I'll improve. Well yes, but not effectively. It's like saying as long as you hit the gym and do your cardio, you're bound to burn up those fat calories. Yes, but you can do so much better if you have an effective training regime. Like when I go to the gym, I see so many people going there to hang out more than to work out. It's like people stand around, reading magazines, or they're comfortably cycling away with minimum sweat, it makes me wonder, what is their objective of going to the gym? Is it just psychological so they feel like they're staying healthy? I suppose it's that, kind of like me and wanting to jump higher so I just took what I thought was right and played more basketball.

I'd recently been doing research on jumping regarding technique and also what training helps you jump higher and I was blown away by the amount of information available! There are so many different types of training! Woah, if only I knew this when I was younger, I'd have gone berserk. Sure, I want to jump high now, but since time is tight, I have to selectively choose what goals I want to reach and right now jumping high isn't a very top priority objective in my life. It's more like a self-accomplishment than a self-advancement goal. But in many ways, this whole "jump higher somehow" idea appears in my life all the time, except that nowadays, I'm not happy just blindly working at something. I enjoy standing on the shoulders of giants and learning from others, then adding my own 2 cents in to improve on that knowledge. But I've come to realize your 2 cents isn't just knowledge that you should be adding, but your personality and style. Another example, I've been watching a lot of Zakk Wylde videos on YouTube and one thing that makes him stand out is that he really has his own style. Like you'll remember who he is even amongst 1053053850386 other guitarists. This is so cool, and the best thing is, he doesn't stand out because of his rock-star personality. The guy is so down to earth! It's ridiculous and he stands out because he's found his own style. That's something that really inspires me and encourages me that sometime you don't need that extra bling bling but maybe just that shiny smile and you'll have a better effect for all you know :).

So life is good now, my projects aren't taking over my days and I've finally got back to a better sleeping routine of sleeping at....... night :P It's quite good. Lack of sunlight really does have an effect on me although I still do enjoy night times. But I've slowly converted my mentality that when the sun is down, it's ok not to work. Speaking of work, I've got a comedy gig tonight and also tomorrow. I just had one yesterday, so this weekend's really been a "funny weekend" for me :P Next week I got a line up of gigs as well! Woah! So much stuff happening now that I think about it, but I don't feel out of control or overwhelmed like before. Maybe because I'm getting more and more comfortable with a packed lifestyle? Who knows.

Going back to the style issue I was talking about. So yea, this is something I've always believed in and has been re-enforced in me recently after watching all these videos, and also learning more about stand-up comedy. The best comedians are the ones who don't try hard, but simply know who they are and work off of that. Anyone can write a generic joke, but no one can deliver it with your style and that's the direction I need to stay focused on. It goes with my freelance web design life as well. Heck, there are tonnes of web designers all over Hong Kong and the world! And with the Internet, you could get someone miles and miles away to design your site for you, yet people enjoy working with me, I suppose because they like my style. Not just in design, but my work process as well. It's good because in many ways, my goal is to create a web solution and solutions mean solving problems, and problems mean stress (usually) so in its own way, my de-stressing my clients by understanding their problem (eg. "I need a website that can bla bla bla bla bla") and providing them with a suitable solution. Of course, this is a subjective issue because like doctors, everyone has a different perspective on the same matter, but generally the answers are the same, or at least leaning towards the same direction.

Well so here we go, the new goal is to realize that personal style is what will set you apart. Of course, that doesn't mean that you don't have to work at other things like technique or focus, but without personal style, you're the same as a machine. They can be programmed to have perfect technique and never get distracted. But since I don't live off of fuel and need to be oiled every now and then, I suppose I don't fit into that category.

PS. Woohoo a hot weekend. I am going to sweat so badly :\