I am a nerdy Doctor Who fan

Let me first rant a bit. I am not very happy with the latest Season 9 of the Doctor Who series. I fell asleep halfway today watching the first episode, and it is very rare thing for me to do that while watching TV. Then I sort of half-watched the subsequent episodes including the absolutely boring Zygon Invasion and the so ridiculous Sleep No More. The only ones which were a bit more interesting were The Girl Who Died and The Girl Who Lived. I have three more episodes to go and I'm not sure when I will get the mood to watch them.

My Top-3 Doctor Who Episodes
Anyway this is what I want to blog about today: of all the 2005-reboot season episodes of Doctor Who, I have my top 3 here, which I would like share with you. I have included short clips below. If you have not watched this sci-fi series before, do watch these clips, or at least the third one; seriously, it's really really good. 

The Empty Child (2005)
Starring Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, John Barrowman, Richard Wilson, Florence Hoath

This episode is an eerie one but so eerie it's so good. It is set in London in 1941, during the Second World War. The story goes around a boy who wears a gas mask. Anyone who touches him will have gas masks grow out of their faces. And he goes around asking people "Are you my mommy?", which became an iconic phrase in Doctor Whodom. 

Blink (2007)
Starring David Tennant, Carey Mulligan, Freema Agyeman

This episode surely sits on the No.1 position in all best-episode lists out there, being one of the best time travel story of all times. The plot knits itself very well together and for a time travel story it actually make sense. And it involves the really heart-stopping Weeping Angels who would come after you when you blink or close your eyes. Watch the clip above and notice the Weeping Angels changing their positions as the scene progresses. And as you watch it, don't blink!

Vincent and the Doctor (2010)
Starring Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Tony Curran, Bill Nighy

And of all my three favourite episodes, I can watch this one over and over and over again. The colours, the emotions, the warmth, the art, it's just so fantastic. Tony Curran played fabulously as Van Gogh and Bill Nighy was just too precious as an art expert. Watching this makes me happy. If I had a tired and depressing day, this would be one of the things that lift up my spirits, and yet not running away from the reality of life, just as it was sadly with Van Gogh. "Every life is a pile of good things and bad things. Good things don't always soften the bad things but vice versa the bad things don't necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant."


Bono and Eugene Peterson

My hubby showed me this video today which I thought was very good. This short documentary was released by Fuller Studios, which I presume is tied to the Fuller Theological Seminary. 

It is quite insightful to listen to them both talking about music and lyrics, the inevitable violence in this world, and the honesty of Christian music. It's worth a watch, and what a lovely to live in where Eugene Peterson's home is. What a spectacular view. It's also quite amusing how Mrs Peterson was chiding Bono at the end of the video as he was leaving. 

It is also featured in this article in Huffington Post: Bono Wants Christian Music To Get More Honest


What's this about married life?

I had the privilege to attend the Ladies Fellowship Ministry meeting in church today where they had a guest speaker, Mr Lee Wee Min, from Focus on the Family Malaysia to talk about marriage. It was an insightful session, and too bad my husband could not attend. 

He spoke about the basic five items couples should focus on for a good and fulfilled marriage relationship. I cannot remember them all but they consist of stuff around communication, making time, trust and the rekindling of romance. These were the most common subjects discussed in couple counseling sessions. 

What impressed me most from the session was the realization that married couples nowadays need to make time for each other. We live in a busy world and not only are we busy with work and kids and chores and church, we are also too busy with our own digital devices. We need to make time for frequent face to face chats just to talk about normal ordinary things. We need to chat and laugh about trivial things. We need to go on dates again. 

There is this Marriage Conference Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage that will be held on 2 July 2016. Couples who longs to rekindle and strengthen their married life should attend it. 

I also checked out the Focus on the Family Malaysia site and found this interesting: The Drop Box, Charity Movie Screening, 29 May 2016. It is a film about a South Korean pastor who built a baby box at his home to receive unwanted babies. I must say it is quite controversial but for the single mothers there, at least they have this option. 

There are lots more events at the FOTF website. Marriage, parenting and youth programmes. Go check it out.


A Prayer for the Unkind

We all get an onslaught of unkind treatment from nasty people, especially from strangers, from people we don't know safely tucked behind the walls of a car, the anonymity of the Internet. 

For me, it usually happens on the road. I would get honked at and usually when someone honks at you in Kuala Lumpur, it is almost akin to a blare of profanity directed at you. I usually do not know what to do with them. I would normally flare out in anger at the discourtesy and indecency. I'd have a conversation with God because he's the best person for me to go to whenever I'm angry. I know I must not allow them to spoil my day. It is a small thing after all but it does feel so big. 

God would temper me and I would end up having to pray for them and my prayer would be something like this. But I must say that this prayer looks tame because I am guilty of some imprecatory lines thrown in sometimes!

You remain forever with the faithful
Help us live in your presence
Help us be a river of joy
And a stream of peace
To people around us
Especially to those who are unkind
Those who malign others
May your holy presence be near them
That they will sense your goodness
And be drawn to you 
May they be changed
To be gracious and benevolent 
May they be drawn to you
And receive your gift of love and forgiveness


This thing about being bored

There's no excuse to be bored. Sad, yes. Angry, yes. Depressed, yes. Crazy, yes. But there no excuse for boredom, ever. 
~ Viggo Mortensen

When you pay attention to boredom it gets unbelievably interesting. 
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

Boredom is rage spread thin. 
~ Paul Tillich

Boredom, after all, is a form of criticism. 
~ Wendell Phillips

The temptation to quit and start over infects every creative process I've ever been in. Frustration and boredom always fuels this self-doubt. 
~ Robert Lopez

Is boredom anything less than the sense of one's faculties slowly dying?
~ Arthur Helps

If I planned everything out in advance, I'd expire of boredom. 
~ Peter Straub


My dependence on the cloud

I got news today that my 30G of free space in OneDrive will be discontinued and that it will be reverting to its basic 5G. 

I keep a lot of my stuff in OneDrive because of the large free space it offers and so that I will be able to get access to it wherever I am and whenever I need to. And now with the loss of that space, I will have to look for other options. 

I was reviewing all the cloud accounts I have and realize I do have a Box account that I have not really used. I have 50G of free space in there. There were some limitations which was why I have not used it much before. Looks like I have to transfer my stuff over before they reduce my space in OneDrive. 

But I might have to think about other alternatives what if Box also decides to do the same. 


Given up?

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of being yourself. 
~ Anna Quindlan

You cry and you scream and you stomp your feet and you shout. And you say, "You know what? I'm giving up, I don't care." And then you go to bed and you wake up, and it's a brand new day, and you pick yourself back up again. 
~ Nicole Scherzinger

Giving up is conceding that things will never get better, and that is just not true. Ups and downs are a constant in life, and I've been belted into that roller coaster a thousand times. 
~ Aimee Mullins

Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent. 
~ Marilyn vos Savant


The Kingdom New Testament, A Contemporary Translation by NT Wright

I have recently bought many books by NT Wright including his 18-volume For Everyone series. I am currently reading his New Testament Wisdom for Everyone and found out that he has published a contemporary translation of the New Testament, which is called The Kingdom New Testament

New Testament Wisdom for Everyone
by NT Wright 

The Kingdom New Testament, A Contemporary Translation 
by NT Wright

If you look at this passage from 2 Peter 1:3-11, you will not sense its familiarity until you read further on, after which you will appreciate how it really brings out the understanding of the passage in a more regular use of the English language. 

3 God has bestowed upon us, through his divine power, everything that we need for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and virtue. 4 The result is that he has given us, through these things, his precious and wonderful promises; and the purpose of all this is so that you may run away from the corruption of lust that is in the world, and may become partakers of the divine nature. 5 So, because of this, you should strain every nerve to supplement your faith with virtue, and your virtue with knowledge, 6 and your knowledge with self-control, and your self-control with patience, and your patience with piety, 7 and your piety with family affection, and your family affection with love. 8 If you have these things in plentiful supply, you see, you will not be wasting your time, or failing to bear fruit, in relation to your knowledge of our Lord Jesus the Messiah. 9 Someone who doesn’t have these things, in fact, is so short-sighted as to be actually blind, and has forgotten what it means to be cleansed from earlier sins. 10 So, my dear family, you must make the effort all the more to confirm that God has called you and chosen you. If you do this, you will never trip up. 11 That is how you will have, richly laid out before you, an entrance into the kingdom of God’s coming age, the kingdom of our Lord and saviour Jesus the Messiah.

Compare it with the ESV and NIV translations here and you will see for yourself what a useful translation the KNT is. I've also included The Message in the link above to show you that KNT is not a "paraphrased" version either. 

Scot McKnight gave a very good review of it here, saying that, "Better than any translation I know today, other than the most literal of translations (which have an entirely different problem), I hear the author’s Greek behind Tom’s translation. Still, Tom Wright is much more in tune with rendering the Greek NT into contemporary English, and that’s the subtitle of the KNTA Contemporary Translation. He does so with elan at times. The translation is brisk and energetic, it’s gender neutral, and it has some real surprises that will make you smile — and provide insight at the same time."

I could not find any electronic copy in print at this point of time, and so I might have to make a visit to the bookstore real soon and get myself a copy. 


No more carrots for me

Carrots are suppose to be good, right? Not necessary, it turned out.

I had a really bad tummy ache today. It felt like gastric pains and I thought it was because I skipped lunch. I had eaten a huge stick of carrot later in the afternoon. And after that my stomach was in so much pain. 

I also had the same pain a week ago and it dawned on me that it was also after I ate a carrot. And so I started to search for an answer. 

It seems now that I have an intolerance to too much fiber. Eating raw carrots can cause abdominal pains because "it’s common for some people to have difficulty digesting vegetables, such as carrots, which will cause excessive gas. Gas develops when certain carbohydrates remain undigested and interact with bacteria in your digestive system...If you don’t eat a high-fiber diet normally and you consume a large amount of raw carrots, you may develop stomach pain from suddenly increasing the amount of fiber in your diet."

Who would have known? I thought fiber is good for you but apparently not too much. So it looks like no more raw carrots for me, or any tough raw vegetables for that matter. 

Check it out here for more information. 


A Prayer for Caregivers

Today, my heart goes out to the caregivers of the elderly, of the sick. They live in fragile worlds, and yet they go on with strength and love. May the Lord bless them as they continue in their work of bringing care, help and comfort to the people who needs them. 

Jesus said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
~ Matthew 11:28-30

Our Father who love us so immeasurably
You are the Healer of souls
You are the Comforter of the weary
We abide in You your presence consoles
Help those who care for others
You are with them in their journey
Ease their anxiety and fears
Show them your grace and mercy
Surround them with love
Engulf them with strength
Uphold them as they uphold the others
Keep them strong yet gentle
For your love is patience
Your love is kind
It bears all things, endures all things
Your love never ends
Your peace you bestow them
Keeps them still at all times and in every way
And there you guard their hearts
And keep their minds in you, Lord Jesus



What's Your Brutally Honest Profile?

I was chatting with a friend during dinner today when the topic of the 16 types personality came up. We confirmed that he's an INTJ and I started laughing as I told him about a funny webpage I have recently came across with the title: MBTI, The Brutally Honest Profiles.

The article has placed INTJ as "Saving the worst for last, INTJ probably have the worst people skills of all types yet they’ll pretend they have this whole humanity thing figured out." 

It's all in jive, for the fun of it. Go check out yours.  Mine is pretty accurate for an INFP.


What's the point of reading?

I am getting myself back into reading alright, finishing two books two days in a row, and now getting comfortable with another one. (The trick is to keep reminding myself to stay away from the TV and iFlix.)

But I was thinking about the 164 books that I have read over the past 4 years and realised I don't remember much of what I have read.

So what's the point of reading?

Wouldn't it be more useful if I could retain all that I have read like a eidetic? Although being an eidetic isn't a bed of roses either. But at least it would be good if I could have a better memory of all I've read.

I think the key to this is to think and talk about the books. And as much as I am no longer reading print books where I could pen down notes, I must make it a point to do so digitally in the ebooks I read. And writing book reviews would also help.

I most probably will not be reading many this year but I should read with an intention to retain as much as I can -- all in the pursuit to be more knowledgeable and more importantly, to be wiser.


The Giver, by Lois Lowry - I'm finally reading again

The Giver
by Lois Lowry

I was bemoaning to myself in the last few months for not reading a single book this year. But when I read an article written by Neil Gaiman on Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming, I finally thought it was high time I actually got a book to read.

I needed something good, but something simple and yet profound. I actually googled for "need a novel to start reading again" and found a few interesting lists. I finally decided to read Lois Lowry's The Giver. 

I was totally wowed.

I wasn't expecting much but the book has a very interesting start to it that got me going and by the time I was halfway through, I was so captivated by the plot that I was looking forward to how it would unfold. In the beginning you'd feel it almost innocuous but soon you'll see how Lowry skillfully weaved it in its brilliance of a story. 

I must add that it was a very good thing that I did not read too much into the description of the book or checked it out in Wikipedia as I sometimes do. It would have spoilt it completely if I had. 

And I realized that the story was so interesting that a movie will do it no justice. (I know there is one.) This story can only be told in a book form. Read it and you will find out why. 

It is a short book and I finished it in a little more than three hours. I was so absorbed in it I didn't want to put it down. I wouldn't say however that I am so pleased with the ending though I'm not surprised at all. It was then when I discovered it is a quartet series, and the story will continue in the subsequent books. 

This is great! There are three more books and I am reading again! And what I also got out of it was what Gaiman said and what I had hoped: it gave me stuff to think about like how I now need to think about dualism, what it is, what it means and how it could affects what I think. 


My struggle with pride and humility

I struggle a lot with pride and humility. Do you? 

I have been taught to be humble my whole life but in my efforts to be humble in all I do, prideful thoughts still come to my mind untethered. I found that I will wallow myself in them but the moment I realize what I am doing, I will feel so ashamed and guilty about it.

According to the dictionary, humility is "modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance, rank," and pride is "a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct." (emphasis mine)

So what does this mean? As much as I work on myself not to be prideful, to teach myself and practice humility, those prideful thoughts still come. I can't seem to stop them. What can I do? What am I suppose to do? Stop thinking?

Humility is a command from God. It is the fear of the Lord. We are called to be humble before God. But when I looked for the practice of humility in the bible, it is very much focused on doing and being, not thinking. Humility is to be patient and bearing with others in love (Eph 4:2), it is to value others above yourself (Phil 2:3), it is the willingness to be last and be servant of all (Mark 9:35), it is serving one another in love (Gal 5:13).*

I also started wondering how great but humble people experience prideful thoughts. Do they have them? How do they handle it if they do?

Could the key be, as in the definition above, not to cherish self in the mind? I cannot deny that prideful thoughts do come, but I think I still need to work on my mind to stop them. And when they come, to realise it as quickly as possible and to surrender to God as a work in progress and move on.

It is indeed a struggle. 


*I know I am probably not thorough enough in my search. I am sure I would have missed out verses on humility and the mind. If you know them, please let me into it.

Tête-à-tête: it's been awhile since I've done this

I have not had a girl to girl tête-à-tête in a long time. I have made a new friend some months ago and made a date to meet up for a chat today. We met at 10:30 in the morning and I thought we'd be done by noon. But no, we sat rooted at our seats until 3:00pm! 

I was even reluctant to get up and leave. It was a blessing to share and tell our stories. I thank God he made us to exist in communities. We are to reach out to one another to care and to love. 


I finally caught up with The Hunger Games movies

I have finally caught up with all The Hunger Games movies. 

What do I think of them? 

Well, it has a really good beginning and a fabulous ending, but that's about all there is to it. 

The middle was just an absolute bore. 

Catching Fire wasn't too bad but most of Mockingjay Part 1 and especially Part 2 are unnecessary. I nearly fell asleep watching Part 2, and couldn't wait for it to end. A reviewer actually called it nap-inducing. 

It would have been perfect if they had stuck to it being a trilogy. 


The amount of sugar in our food

Like in the days when I was a crazy bakerI used to bake a cake every two days–now you know I am trying my hand on cooking. 

And in the process of doing so, I have learnt a very important lesson: the food that we eat out may contain quite a lot and more sugar than we can imagine. 

For one, I love the Chinese sweet soups, tong sui, and I would stop by the shops or stalls and order my favorites whenever I have the chance. But since I have bought a pressure cooker, wouldn't it be better if I make it myself. I realize of course that I can't make just one bowl but I can't finish a whole pot all by myself. So with that to begin with is already a bad idea. But I went ahead anyway. 

I followed this recipe for mak zuk or wheat porridge. The results was not to my satisfaction at all. I have already put in more sugar than what was prescribed in the recipe and it still doesn't taste sweet enough. But I am giving up – I am not going to put it anymore sugar and I have decided it's better to discard the whole pot than to eat up the whole receptacle of carbohydrates now should I. No more making tong sui for me. 

This was after the last time I made vinegared pork knuckles. The recipe called for 2 cups of brown sugar and I went like, "what?!!!". I used barely a cup. It did not taste as good I presume, a lot more sourish than those I have had tasted in the shops, but quite close to my late grandma's, so that's good as far as I'm concerned.  

You'll find a lot of articles out there that tell us how much sugar is hiding in our food and foods we don't expect to have dangerous amount of sugar. They give us a list of high sugar processed foods and advise us to check the nutritional labels before buying anything. But in a culture where eating out is a norm, we will never know how much sugar is in our food until we start cooking it ourselves.