Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Singapore Orchid Series

In the latest series of photography on my Facebook page, The Weekend Traveler, I am sharing the photos I took a while ago at the National Orchid Garden, which I've grouped into a color theme. In this post, I have pink, yellow and purple for you. I hope you'll like them!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

"Habit" In Action: Duolingo Swedish

I have just finished the chapter HABIT of the book I'm currently reading, My 31 Practices, by Alan Williams and Steve Payne (illustrated by John Montgomery). At the beginning of the chapter, the authors are talking about the Hook Model (Trigger/Action/Variable Reward/Investment) and the Habit Loop (Cue/Routine/Reward), and towards the end they provided an illustration of the approach in a general manner.

The Book: front and back covers.

I decided to "test drive" and adapted it in the context of my Swedish language learning with Duolingo, using pages 115 and 116 as my template. To my delight it was super easy to do! So here goes...

1) At a certain time in the day, I receive a prompt to remind me to practice for the day (PROMPT/CUE).
This is a screenshot from my iPhone. This becomes my first point above.

2) When I click on the Duolingo app (ACTION/ROUTINE), I can see which sections require revision (PROMPT/CUE).

3) I take the time to (PROMPT/CUE) look at those sections and start practicing or completing them (ACTION/ROUTINE).

4) I am pleased to complete them and see the 'bar' becoming full once again (REWARD). Having completed the section(s) requiring strengthening or revising, I start on a completely new module—Duolingo does not allow you to tackle a new module until the current one is completed—and I do the section until it is completed (INVESTMENT).

5) I capture a screenshot of the new level I have passed for reflection and recording (ACTION/ROUTINE).

6) Completing this "process" is motivating because I am confirming to myself I have completed my Swedish language learning, to whatever extent (REWARD). This happens on two levels: first, the Duolingo scoring gives a sense of achievement; second, recording it (screenshots) reinforces it (REWARD) and the accumulation of this data over time builds my connection with the Duolingo approach (INVESTMENT).

7) Sharing my results on my blog or Facebook page or in person with my friends and family serves a similar purpose (REWARD and INVESTMENT).

Seeing how easy it is to "gel" it with what I'm already doing and now seeing it reinforced through what I'm reading is satisfying. I will continue to study the principles in this book and craft my own 31 practices. I've got stuff jotted down already and looking forward to the end result, which I'm sure I will always be refining.

Taking "baby steps"—just one small thing each day is indeed easy to do as part of our daily lives!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

KEDI at The Projector

My day to watch KEDI at The Projector has finally arrived. Tucked away in Golden Mile Tower, The Projector is a hidden gem (it's also one of my favorite spots in Singapore). "Kedi" means cat in Turkish.

At 4 PM-ish I bought my of pint of draft beer at the Intermission Bar (a cafe at the cinema) and promptly deposited myself into the Green Room. The show starts at 4:30 PM. I knew Kedi was sold out and it's VERY important I arrived sufficiently early to secure a "great" seat. It's a free-seating cinema. Awesome.

I fell in love the first minute the documentary started screening, my eyes welled up, I got a little emotional throughout. I swear I could see little hearts flying around the cinema from the seats of my fellow cat lovers. What a beautiful, beautiful story. The people of Istanbul truly love their stray kedi.

Director: Ceyda Torun | Duration: 79 |
Language: Turkish with English subtitles

I cat-napped this synopsis from The Projector: 
Hundreds of thousands of Turkish cats roam the metropolis of Istanbul freely. For thousands of years they’ve wandered in and out of people’s lives, becoming an essential part of the communities that make the city so rich. Claiming no owners, the cats of Istanbul live between two worlds, neither wild nor tame—and they bring joy and purpose to those people they choose to adopt. In Istanbul, cats are the mirrors to the people, allowing them to reflect on their lives in ways nothing else could. Critics and internet cats agree—this cat documentary will charm its way into your heart and home as you fall in love with the cats in Istanbul.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Shakespeare on Toast and Ben Crystal

Tonight is the night. I have been looking forward to meeting Ben Crystal in person. I have some of his father's books (David Crystal is his father) and I've watched their YouTube video a few years ago on the introduction to the 'Original Pronunciation' production of Shakespeare and what they reveal about the history of the English language. It's a really cool video.

Ben Crystal looks even better now. He's got that "ripeness" about him and that's sexy. I know this sounds shallow but I can't help making that observation. He looks like a delicious fruit. Seeing him in action at The Arts House was a treat!

I was thinking about his book, SHAKESPEARE ON TOAST, the whole time he was making magic sprouting words filling us with the wonders of some of Shakespeare's plays, explaining how it's like working with and having an intimate relationship with the legendary playwright. I brought the book home when the night was over.

From the back cover of the book: Actor, producer and director Ben Crystal revisits his acclaimed book on Shakespeare for the 400th anniversary of his death. Shakespeare on Toast knocks the stuffing from the staid old myth of the Bard, revealing his plays for what they really are: modern, thrilling, uplifting drama. Crystal explores his language, his life, his world, his sounds, his craft - and, astonishingly, finds Shakespeare's own voice amid the poetry. 

Whether you're studying Shakespeare for the first time or you've never set foot near one of his plays but have always wanted to, this book smashes down the walls that have been built up around this untouchable literary figure.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


There are stuff in EAT PRAY LOVE MADE ME DO IT that I really like; I'm a big fan of quotes. It took me two and a half months to finish this book and not because I'm a slow reader, but because a book such as this must be read slowly and reflectively. I made notes throughout and scribbled my thoughts. How the book resonated with me. I was thinking how blessed I am for daring to take actions and they were scary to me at that point of time. I needed all the courage I could muster. But I'm glad to have gone through them and I'm sure life will continue to throw challenges at us, and when that happens I will be meeting them heads-on again. Eat, pray, love, my friends.
Eat Pray Love was about what happens when one human being realizes that her life doesn’t have to look like this anymore—that everything (including herself) can be changed. After that realization occurs, nothing will ever be the same again. […] Whatever happens next can quite literally be: ANYTHING. –Elizabeth Gilbert

[…], like japa mala beads, life is a string of small successes, big failures, love, loss, bravery, fear—all looped together in all infinite circle. –Victoria Russell, Garden State
At the end of the day, it’s just you. So make sure you like the person you’re alone with. –Mallory Kotzman, The Gift

Eat Pray Love reminded me to love myself first. I must feed myself first before I can give the best of me to those I love. –Lisa Becker, Happy Wife, Happy Life

It doesn’t matter where I live, who I sleep next to, where I work or what I’m doing if I don’t feel at peace with myself. I was the key to my own happiness. –April Schmidt, “Pray” Is the Hardest Part

As Felipe tells Liz in the book: “This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.” –Jan Haag, There You Are

The heart cannot absorb what it’s not ready for. –Aimee Halfpenny, Penny Prayers

Because of Eat Pray Love, I was careful about the parameters of any relationship I entered into and made sure to monitor my own happiness. Like Elizabeth, I realized  that I have a right to my own well-being. I’m now in a relationship with someone who is a true partner. –Alexandria Hodge, Road Map

The gym was my Italy, a weekend away with girlfriends was my Indonesia and spending quiet time reading or running or just going for a coffee was my India. –Tracie Cornell, Getting Back to Me

Monday, June 12, 2017

EAT PRAY LOVE MADE ME DO IT, Introduction by Elizabeth Gilbert

I read EAT PRAY LOVE by Elizabeth Gilbert in 2011. I'm going to call it EPL for this post. I watched the movie starring Julia Roberts after a few of my girlfriends told me to watch it because Liz is “so like me” they said. I’d been to Bali twice but not because of Liz. The first time I was in Bali for my solo trip (I love traveling solo) the locals asked me if I was doing the "Eat Pray Love." I had no idea. Putu, my personal guide volunteered information by saying Bali became famous because of that Julia Roberts movie. After that I knew I had to do something about this EPL thingy. I made a mental note to check out the movie. I watched the movie, and I laughed and cried and wept.

I love Italy. Traveling solo to Italy—Rome, specifically—in 2013 after self-learning Italian was another coincidence which had nothing to do with EPL, but I get asked that a lot by well-meaning people. In Rome, I took the Italo high speed train to Napoli to eat pizza. I met The Epic Kisser in the National Library of Rome. I went to Italy again in 2014 spending almost three months in southern Italy—Puglia, specifically. I noticed a pattern: I love going to the same place twice.

One day, I will go to India (but not because of EPL).

Okay, let’s get back to the book. I bought EAT PRAY LOVE MADE ME DO IT at the Penang International Airport in March this year after a wonderful trip in Krabi, Thailand, with my dearest Teddybjörn. For the next two months until today I read one story every day in my bathroom. You cannot rush through a book such as this one. Every day, these women and men who had gone through some of life’s worst challenges and came out triumphant—many thanks to Liz’s story—shared their lives with me while I was in the loo. So many passages resonated with me. I underlined them, jotted down my thoughts all while I was on my “throne.” I know it sounds gross but most of my reflective moments happen in the loo.

Did EPL made me do something? It sure did. I recalibrated my life many years ago and at present it gives me the clarity of what is good for me and if it is not good, to know what to do about it—calmly. This book, Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It, lets me know that somebody somewhere in the world is going through something similar, that nobody is ever alone in their struggles, and there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Page One Bargain Bookstore

Today I popped by the Page One bargain bookstore on the fourth storey of The Cathay in Handy Road. All books are priced between $0.50 and $5. So, so good. I filled the biggest IKEA bag (provided by the bookstore) with 28 books and two espresso cups ($1 each). The IKEA bag is indeed the hardest working bag in the world. Those books were heavy!

$55.50 for 28 books and 2 espresso cups

I'll be using these books for coloring inspirations, thinking about innovation and adapting design for my work as a platform/program manager, feeding my passion for everything Scandinavian, checking out the best blogs about design, sketching and drawing, and jotting down thoughts in those small notebooks (very handy for traveling).