Inspirational Quote of the Day

"Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking." —Marcus Aurelius

Monday, November 16, 2015

Currently Reading: British Language & Culture

British Language & Culture is a hilarious read. I borrowed this book from the National Library in Singapore and have been thoroughly enjoying it. For example,

'It's all gone pear-shaped.' The thing to say when things go terribly wrong.

'Steve's having a whizz in the crapper.' But one is to use this with caution according to LP. Whizz (or piss or slash) means urinate, and crapper (or bog or lav) means toilet. Now replace Steve with whatever name you have in mind and here's where it gets funny (at least to me, it is).

The Brits are a complicated lot. And very interesting too. Almost anything they say is opposite of what they meant. Here's another example,

'With all due respect...' actually means 'I have no respect for your view.' See what I mean?

I'm now on page 45. The other sections in the book are:
{ A Short History of British }
{ Speaking British English }
{ Living Life – the British Way }
{ Eating, Drinking & Making Merry }
{ Sport & Entertainment }
{ Slang & Misunderstanding }
{ Regional Variations }
{ Regional Languages }

What are you currently reading?


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Updates from Singapore: Settling In

So in September this year I received the great news that I will be transferred to Singapore for my new role. Well, it's not exactly a new role, but an expanded one with a different client (Microsoft!), so I'm REALLY excited about it.

It has been a crazy busy time for the past few weeks managing my new work (and the old one because I'm still helping with the transition), and of course getting myself settled down in a new country. In this case, thank goodness it's Singapore because everything then becomes super easy. Singapore is amazingly easy to navigate and dealing with all the government agencies was pain-free.

In the frantic-ness of dealing with everything that came my way, I have not been documenting the process but here's a summary version of what has happened:

Employment Pass (EP) — Checked! This was handled by my employer, so all I needed to do was to show up at the Ministry of Manpower and finalize everything else such as registration and finger printing. The whole process took approximately four weeks. Everything else (see below) is dependent on this EP, so...
Local Mobile Phone — Checked!
Bank Account — Checked! I love, love, LOVE the service rendered by the bank. Superb customer service by great staff.
Housing — Checked! I managed to secure a nice one-bedroom apartment and my real estate agent is a joy to work with.
Library Membership — Checked! I'm loving the National Library!
Changi Rewards — Checked! I'll be spending a lot of time at the airport, so it's only wise to sign up for this membership.
Transportation — Checked! My iPhone is now loaded with all the useful apps such as SMRTConnect, SBS Transit (iris), How2Go, and various taxi apps by SMRT, Comfort, GrabCar, and Uber. I've got my EZ-Link card too, which is a really nice card to have  because besides using it for the MRT and buses, I paid for my library membership with it.  

I'm blending right in! More updates on my Singapore adventures coming your way.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Updates from Singapore: I'm a Library Member!

I became a library member last Sunday! I joined as a foreign member and the whole process was seamless and so efficient from start to finish. I did some research on NLB's website prior to the visit and found out everything I needed to know such as the fee, payment mode, location of all the public libraries, etc. I signed up at the Central Public Library (Victoria Street) very near the Bugis and City Hall MRT stations. The customer service staff was helpful and in less than 10 minutes, I became a member.

I'm very impressed with Singapore and the way that things just happen so smoothly there. The process and execution are flawless!

For more information on membership, please visit the NLB Membership page.


Friday, November 13, 2015

5-Bullet Friday

It's been a while and I've been away sorting out my relocation to Singapore. Yes, I'm moving country!

So I finally have some breathing space and remembered that I have a blog. I started blogging for about 10 years now (started in 2005), gained lots of new bookish blogger friends (because I blog a lot about books), and then I became inactive because of my work (this started like five years ago).

Today, I checked my inbox and saw Tim Ferriss' email titled 5-Bullet Friday. I decided to shamelessly copy him (I'm so inspired!). This weekly dose of “5-Bullet Friday” thing according to Tim is a list of what he's enjoying or pondering. So, here's mine:

Music I'm relaxing toIU - Glasses (안경) (Thank you, Sarah R. for posting this on your Facebook; and that's how I got to know about this cute song.)
Best podcast episode I found this week — I only started listening to podcast this week and the first one I've enjoyed was Leo Laporte's TWiT (This Week in Tech). This week's episode 535 features guests Om Malik, Ben Thompson, and Steve Kovach and it's about transforming journalism, Amazon brick and mortar, Comcast caps, and more. I must thank Simon P. for his influence on all things podcasty.
What I’m watching (short video) Otto the bulldog sets a Guinness World Records by skateboarding through a human tunnel of 30 people. Otto is so handsome and what a skater dude!
Something saving me time — I’ve gotta give more thoughts to this one. I promise I'll have something to say next week.
Quote that has influenced my mindset “Most people assume that meditation is about stopping thoughts, getting rid of emotions, somehow controlling the mind. But actually, it's about stepping back, seeing the thought clearly, witnessing it coming and going.” -ANDY PUDDICOM



Saturday, October 31, 2015

THE TIME GARDEN, by Daria Song

I've been quiet in the last few days, mostly contemplating on what to do next (or what to color next; should I do this piece instead of that). Simon P. brought back a gift from the UK, a coloring book titled The Time Garden, and I fell in love with it immediately. It's such a beautiful thing.

I've decided to temporarily put the Crazy Camper Van project on hold while I embark on this cuckoo clock fantasy. Here's a glimpse on what I have been up to...

Book synopsis: The Time Garden will sweep you away into an enchanted world, created in intricate pen and ink by Korean artist Daria Song.

Journey through the doors of the cuckoo clock and into its inky innerworkings to discover a magical land ready and waiting for you to customize with whatever colours you can dream up. 


Thursday, October 08, 2015

Cooking Experiment: Success!


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Stimulate Your Mind

Continuing on from yesterday’s post on Follow Your Questions, I find #13 Stimulate Your Mind an interesting one. This is because when you really think about it, it has connection with everything else in the 24 Daily Habits That Will Make You Smarter.

Click on the article to view a larger image.

In this post I’m going to list down some of the ideas of stimulating one’s mind, particularly on brain games or exercises—they’re mostly stuff I’ve tried and tested (#10)—and attempt to link them to the rest of the 23 daily habits from the infographic.

The following exercises will strengthen the brain’s higher functions such as memory, creativity, reaction time, and critical thinking abilities. Brain exercises (help tone and shape your mind) are like physical exercises (help tone and shape your body). The idea is to increase speed, alertness, focus, attention, spatial reasoning, problem solving, and reaction time.
  1. Brain games and training. Luminosity (#17 and #23), Brainist and Games for the Brain. I’m very tempted to sign up for Luminosity’s personalized training program…
  2. Puzzles such as crosswords, word finds, or math puzzles. I’m currently trying out cryptic crosswords and they’re so tough! Bonza! is a great crossword where you arrange the pieces to solve the puzzle. I only started playing Bonza! (#17 and #23) in July this year after being introduced to it by my brilliant-brainy guy, Simon P. (#15 and #21)
  3. Pub Quiz (#21). Go easy on the beer, though! When I’m not participating in the weekly pub quiz, I play QuizUp (#17 and #23), a free and awesome app where you get to either pick your opponent (friends) or any random person in the world. I was introduced to QuizUp only yesterday, again, by my brilliant-brainy guy, Simon P.
  4. Chess. I think it’s a great way to exercise strategic thinking prowess. Many have said it’s fun to play but it’s also something that I’m still having trouble getting started because it’s scary. (It’s time tackle #19!) I’m particularly interested in strategy games because they help develop long-term thinking and make you think many steps ahead.
Come let's play Bonza!

So, all in all, I’m going by the principle that the best way to increase one's intelligence is to stimulate one's mind! Here are more stuff I regularly do.  Pick a topic that I really enjoy (I love the spelling, grammar and Italy quizzes in QuizUp). #20 and #23 – Go for stuff that interests me and would like to learn more about (I enjoy learning languages and Duolingo is a great free app to explore and be exposed to new tongues). #4, #7 and #23 – Set aside an hour a day and read passages from a book on that topic or subject. #20 – Open up your mind to new things! #24 – Don’t forget physical exercise and a nutritious diet for a happy brain and help mind juices flow! Right now I’m doing #8 and #12 by writing this post.

My QuizUp

What’s not in this post but are available elsewhere on my blog:
  • #2: Follow your questions—I do this often, which explains my passion for reading and exploring things. I did a post on this yesterday.
  • #5: Watch educational videos instead of TV—I’m a big fan of TEDTalks. Find me here!
  • #14: Take online courses—I’m a big fan of MOOC and my favorite platform is Coursera. Check out my posts here.
  • #16: Subscribe to feeds of interesting information—My Twitter lists and Facebook are full of interesting and useful stuff. I also share them here and here.
  • #18: Use a word-of-the-day app—Take a peek on my blog’s sidebar for the Italian and Spanish WOTD.
  • #22: Set aside some time to do nothing—Yes, it’s really good for you. I’ve tried it and doing nothing is liberating.

What’s NOT in this post and NEEDS ACTION:
  • #1: Come up with 10 ideas every day
  • #3: Play devil’s advocate
  • #6: Read the newspaper
  • #11: Start a “Stop doing” list


Sunday, October 04, 2015

Follow Your Questions

I was reading an article on about 24 Daily Habits that Will Boost Your Intelligence and the point on “Follow your questions” (see item 2) has triggered me to give it a little more thought. So, what is follow your questions?

Click on the article to view a larger image.

I would say it is the idea of being curious and follow your curiosity. You’ll never know where it’ll lead you but you can almost always be surprised by how awesome that discovery will be. Follow the trail.

Personally I love burning questions that lead me to deeper questions. Pondering on them and the uncertainties can be mentally exhausting but also satisfying. To me, the sense of accomplishment when I found the answers which then leads me to potentially more questions is very appealing.

The idea of questioning the situation or material was not easy for me when I was younger, and it is something I took lots of practice with for it to become a second nature to me. I used to be really obedient in school, and although I had many questions I seldom ask but just accepted what was being taught. But then as a mature adult, I starting asking.

We can all do this by questioning the situation or material. Ask: What's really going on here or why does this resonate with me? Why does it matter? How does this help others? Does it make sense? Is there something more to it than what has been explicitly said or what might I be missing? If I’m reading a book, who is the author (for example, I research the authors and examine their social media presence)?

Questions are the basis for learning. The process of slow, curious investigation is a good foundation to personal growth, so do not fear those questions or curiosity!