31 December 2010

Goodbye, Hello and a boundless world

This morning I came across a wonderful quote by Bruce Lee:
“Defeat is a state of mind; no one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.” 
At that moment, something just clicked in my mind. I realized that this is so true! Lately I've been very hard on myself with everything, trying to end 2010 with an extreme bang and getting myself prepared for the greatness that awaits in 2011. I'm excited and nervous at the same time. Excited because I know there's a lot that will happen in 2011 but nervous because I am hoping I can achieve all those things I've set myself up to get to. But upon reading that quote, the nerves calmed and I realized there is no defeat as long as I don't accept it as defeat. And when I look back at this whole year, I realize the times I've felt annoyed because things didn't go as I planned or I get interrupted by small things and my big things end up suffering have been nothing but self-made defeats. If anything, the phrase I used to love mind like water should have kept me calm realizing that every bump along the way doesn't stop my journey, it just side-tracks it but as long as I keep going, I'm doing exactly what I aimed to do -- go towards my targets.

I've been recently doing a little extra reading on great leaders that were great not because they were wise-businessmen but because they were wise people-persons. The first person that comes to mind is Abraham Lincoln. That man, till today inspires me to never forget that everyone around me is as human as myself, no matter what status or skills or wealth or anything I have achieved. He also taught me to reverse that thinking where a person who I consider to be some sort of God is really just as human as myself. I used to consider drummers like Thomas Lang and Marco Minnemann Gods on drum kits. I still admire them as musicians but not to the point I see them as something I could never get to. I've been re-discovering myself as a drummer and going back to my roots. It definitely sucks when I have to go back and look at everything as if I were a beginner and even throw away old techniques in replacement for new, better ones. But it's one of those take 1 step back to go 2 steps forward deals.
I've also been reading the classic How to win friends and influence people. I've read it before but wanted to re-read it and so many things shine extra true now. Especially with my web design work. This year, some of my clients were so kind as to invite me to Christmas lunches with their staff and it really made me happy. Not happy because I get to enjoy a lunch on my client, but the happiness that my relationship with many clients is on the level of friends in business. At the same time, I have great relationships with clients where they actually appreciate my feedback and comments. I guess at some point I thought this was normal but when I talk to many other people who are working in similar fields as me, many of them just complain about how they can't be bothered to give suggestions because people usually aren't interested. Perhaps it's also the way they give suggestions. I guess for me, I usually get very excited about the projects I take on (I don't take on everything for a reason) and maybe that excitement rubs off on to my clients which gets them excited and on board for the fun journey to a website's creation.

And on that note, may I announce the unveiling of my own personal comedy website: www.funnyvivek.com (beta)! Yes that's right! The one thing that has always suffered from being pushed aside on my to do list is my own comedy website. Equipped with show schedules and videos (there are some new videos most people haven't seen before :P) But why beta you ask? Well there are still a few things I would love to modify. For example, notice how there is pretty much no Chinese on the site? Yep, that's an issue but I didn't want to get overwhelmed with this project but wanted to make sure it's up and running on 31 Dec 2010 just in time for the new year! So please feel free to enjoy the site and let me know if you have any comments (or even discover any bugs).

Mind like water. I heard that phrase while I was still a GTD newbie. It explained the concept of how the goal of martial arts is not to avoid getting attacked but to learn how to bounce back after being attacked. The same with life and Bruce Lee's quote. It's a matter of learning to deal with life's surprises more than leading a stable life.

The funny thing is, 3 years ago, my mindset was all about intensity, I wanted to go out, hike in the cold and do something wild to shock sense into me. Today I'd rather sit in peace, and find that sense from within. Not through shock but through calmness. I suppose it's like saying you could use sand paper or water to erode a hard piece of rock.

So it's time to say goodbye to 2010, the year that brought me so many things, to list a few:
  • I did my first of many Mixed Martial Arts Announcer gig for Legend Fighting Championship
  • Did my first English one-man show at TakeOut Comedy
  • Watched Lamb of God LIVE, in the front row!
  • Learnt about the power of lighting and color to affect your moods
  • Started taking drum lessons from the great Don Ashley
  • Performed at MaD and TEDx
  • Taught my first of many Stand Up Comedy workshops to youngsters, hopefully inspiring the next Funniest Person in Hong Kong
  • Moved on to the Android Mobile Phone - My lovely Samsung Galaxy S
And hello to 2011 where many things are already lined up already.

I'd like to say thank you to everyone who has contributed to my year, whether it be leaving comments on my blog, coming to a comedy show, checking out my band's gigs, emailing me just to talk about life, suggesting books to read and songs to enjoy, or any way you have influenced my year. I really do appreciate it.
And for those who haven't crossed paths with me, our days are numbered because as I said before, one of my many goals is to make the whole world laugh and no one's getting away from the giggles this time! :)

Happy New Year and let me leave you with this quote from Bruce Lee again:
"If you love life, don't waste time, for time is what life is made up of."
Thank you, sir.


19 December 2010

2010 Closing Credits - Almost edition

Ahhh, finally some time to just sit back and tend to my blog. After a hectic week and emails piled up, etc. I can finally sit back and just listen to some Herbie Hancock and type.

It's that time again when the year ends and everyone gets excited for the next one, new year resolutions get thrown around and everything is going to be perfect starting from 1 Jan 2011! At least that's the plan :). I was reviewing my goals and targets for 2010 and I'm proud to say I achieved the ones that remained as goals as of today. Some of the goals I wanted to achieve in the beginning of 2010 slowly lost its priority in my list and eventually got scrapped.

Having re-read my last entry of 2010, I didn't realize some of the things I used to think. Where lighting was my environment was a fresh concept to me. Today it's super normal to me where I literally don't have my room fully lit up unless I'm cleaning. I almost always work in darkness except for the light over the area I'm working at (eg. light over my computer desk).

Last year, music to work by was Lounge music, this year it's Jazz.
Last year, I was still trying to discover the best environment for myself with regards to lighting, this year it's all about ergonomics. I have recently ordered a new Haworth Adflex table just for that. I realized that my current dark brown table had a major flaw, it was a littttlllleeee bit too high for me to be totally relaxed. Yes, I have reached the point where these minor issues bother me. Partly because I'm sitting at the desk for so many hours, I want to be relaxed. Also, one thing I learnt at the Haworth showroom was how a white desk vs a dark brown desk can  have such a big impact on your energy levels. When I was talking to the lady helping me with my desk selection, she asked me what color desk surface I'd like and I said "just go with black so it doesn't stain" and the first thing she said was "really? You'll get tired easily" and it never occurred to me that this could very well be a factor as well. I later started looking at furniture differently, asking myself "does this make me relaxed or excited?" not just "do the colors go well?" anymore.

Also, this time last year I was stuck on my painful HP iPAQ 920c PDA phone. Man I used that phone to the max! Everyone who has ever had to use that phone has complained about how crap it is, yet while I had it, I made the most of it. Eventually I upgraded to the uber lovely Samsung Galaxy S and never looked back! I am extremely happy with my investment because just being able to listen to audio books conveniently is already money in my pocket! That's another new thing this year, my passion for audio books!

Drumming wise, my goals last year was all about speed but over time speed has slowly lost its sweetness to me. Sure it sounds awesome but it sounds flat... stuff played fast can't really be enjoyed the same way you would. It's like having a large dose of chocolate vs slowly letting it melt in your mouth. It's a different enjoyment. Not to say I don't want speed, but I've decided that it's time I became a musician at my drum set rather than a machine. I've finally started taking lessons from the wonderful Don Ashley and have decided to start all over again. Going from the foundation up (and boy do I have lots of gaps in my foundation!). The reason for this is also because my band, Eve of Sin, is kind of going through a reborn process ever since we've had to move our band room (and we're aiming to have it up and running before 2010 ends!!! RAH!). Everyone in the band (ie. 4 people, we don't have a bassist) is basically upping their game because we've found that the only way to go is to think big. We don't want to just think of ourselves as a Hong Kong metal band. It's like saying, if you're in the C-grade swimming team and you come 1st, you're just the best of the worst. Don't get me wrong, HK has some serious metal bands that are awesome and have broken out into an International level, but we're hoping to add some extra glory to it :) I guess it was also after watching Chthonic live and realizing they were a neighboring Asian band living our dreams! If they can do it why not us?!

Comedy wise, last year I was still dreaming about doing my own English 1 man show, heck last year I hadn't even ever stepped into a MMA ring to do any sort of announcements! So this year it's really just making this aspect of my life always follows the Japanese word Kaizen. Making sure my current performance upped the game from my last one, whether it's smoothness in my delivery or an upgraded version of an old comedy bit or just controlling my voice better as I growl out excitement before two guys go at it in a ring!

Well I have a good 12 days to get myself sorted out and ready for the new year. January 2011 already has a whole load of stuff lined up for me to tend to and rock out at....awesome. Just the way I like to start my year :)


05 December 2010

Ending by beginning

Woah! 10 days already?! So there are really only 2 more entries for this year! Craziness!
Well some good news! I found my Art Blakey music collection and got inspired to do a random Youtube search of great jazz artists because I was just... feeling really uninspired and now I've got these lovely tunes bouncing off my room walls happily. I've realized that my music requirements during work have changed over the years:
  1. Metal. Loud, crazy, blasting metal spitting fire into my ears and adrenaline in my blood
  2. Buddha Bar, lounge music became the thing I needed to get to work
  3. Phantom of the Opera, I went through a long phase of this
  4. Jazz, any jazz was sufficient
  5. Bebop. Yes, my mind decided to narrow it down to this and only this
  6. Finally, today's (happy) jazz. I realized whenever I worked to say John Coltrane, I'd slowly feel bored with my work (ok except "My Favorite Things"). Stuff like Herbie Hancock's "Cantelope Island" is perfect for what I need nowadays.
Yes, yes, I know, I've become a very coffee-shop-music guy. Or I've just grown older.
I still listen to lots of metal at the gym and when I'm walking and need to be pumped up for something, but metal has slowly been confined to only my band and my work outs.

Speaking of metal, if you haven't heard of Manntis, you really should check them out.Their guitarist was on Ozzy Osbourne's Battle for Ozzfest show on MTV. This show first aired in 2004 and I had to resort to searching for it on the Internet and once I got the whole season, I was hooked, I had to do a complete marathon up till the late hours of the night, I just couldn't stop. Watching metal heads battle it out for their band was like a dream for me. Oddly, that was also the time I used to dream about playing drums.

I've recently been evaluating my drumming skills and realized that I've grown out of the phase of playing for fun. I've started to find the need to play for excellence. I mean, I'd find myself constantly trying new things in my band's songs to see if I could top my last drum idea in hopes of finding something that makes the song even better than how it was.

The band, Eve of Sin, is going through a rough patch now since our landlords have hiked our rent up a huge amount (obviously trying to get rid of us) and we're stuck with a short period of time to find a new practice room. We had considered not rending a place and just using those pay-by-the-hour rooms around Hong Kong but we went there once and that was the worst jamming experience ever. The equipment was so bad that songs we thought were cool sounded horrible, it just lacked everything. The song's soul died along with the equipment in those rooms. I suppose that's partly why many bands in Hong Kong have a tough time finding their sound, they get stuck with half-broken equipment all the time that they just hope they find anything that sounds good.

Oh, and if you haven't heard of Bob Newhart and his comedy material, check it out. Jerry Seinfeld mentioned him in an interview once and I checked out the guy and I was blown away by his material. I mean, if I read it on paper in black and white I'd think this was interesting humorous writing, but listening to him deliver gives it a whole new life!

I guess all these things combined have really switched my mind into another zone in regards to my creativity. I've slowly become more and more aware of how my little personal twist to everything is what matters most, not even the technical abilities, the content or the image. It's that little touch a person adds to something that makes all the difference. Oddly, the more I think of this, the more I realize you have to first have a combination of technical abilities, content and a proper image to be able to discover your personal touch/style that is a signature item. Sure there are times you may stumble upon something by pure luck, but chances are those won't last long and they'll never be in your control.

I recently went to one of the exhibitions by Basil Pao (my client) and after having stared at his photographs for so long in low resolutions, being able to see them blown up was a huge difference. Kind of like watching comedy on your computer screen and seeing it live. There's just something different about it being there in front of you that makes the difference. The most interesting thing was that this man had seen and experienced so much that anything he touched seemed to turn into gold. His photos, in my opinion, are gorgeous. Take, for example, his book called HANDS. I guess I've just had so much time to look at the images that it kind of gives the hands life every time I look at them. It's like how some painters can draw eyes that are full of life while others' will be soulless. It's kind of like having 2 people who can speak English fluently, but one of them can sequence his/her words in such a way it sounds poetic.

I thing what has happened that in the last 10 days, since my workload hasn't been in the oh-my-goodness-I'm-losing-my-mind but more in the okay-this-is-a-good-kind-of-busy, I've had time to absorb things I'm experiencing and my mind's had a chance to actually supply some sort of self-reflection/feedback. The only thing is, having done that I've found so many things I could improve on :P And thus, starts my annual new years' preparation so I start the new year perfectly! :)

Well let's see what other mad thoughts I end up with in the next 10 days! Enjoy them while they last! :D