The Perfect Wisdom of Our God

A beautiful modern hymn with superb lyrics: The Perfect Wisdom of Our God by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty

The perfect wisdom of our God, 
Revealed in all the universe: 
All things created by His hand, 
And held together at His command. 
He knows the mysteries of the seas, 
The secrets of the stars are His; 
He guides the planets on their way, 
And turns the earth through another day.  

The matchless wisdom of His ways, 
That mark the path of righteousness; 
His word a lamp unto my feet, 
His Spirit teaching and guiding me. 
And oh, the mystery of the cross, 
That God should suffer for the lost 
So that the fool might shame the wise, 
And all the glory might go to Christ!  

Oh grant me wisdom from above, 
To pray for peace and cling to love, 
And teach me humbly to receive 
The sun and rain of Your sovereignty. 
Each strand of sorrow has a place 
Within this tapestry of grace; 
So through the trials I choose to say: 
“Your perfect will in your perfect way.”


Life is full of possibilities

It's a farewell for one of my staff. It's sad to see him go. He has been a very good assistant and help. Wishing him all the best and that life is full of possibilities for him. 


My mom has a good sense of humour, unexpectedly, sometimes

I texted my mom in Mandarin today, for the first time in our lives and she was impressed. (She has always been nagging me to learn up the language.)

She couldn't reply me in Mandarin and wanted me to help her setup the Mandarin keyboard in her phone this evening, when we meet for dinner. 

This was how our conversation went:

She is so funny at times. 

Note: sudah sampai, is Malay for "already arrived". 

The seven deadly sins of speaking

I have blogged about this TedTalk before but this time I was reminded of it again. Julian Treasure spoke about the seven deadly sins of speaking: gossiping, being judgement all, negativity, complaining, making excuses, exaggeration and dogmatism. 

I experienced it yesterday--someone spoke to me in a very judgmental tone--it's not a big issue but I didn't like it. I did want to let it go and get on with the day, with life but it kept bugging me, and it suddenly reminded me of this TedTalk. 

He said,

"What would the world be like if we were speaking powerfully to people who are listening consciously in environments which are actually fit for purpose."

"Or to make that a bit larger, what would the world be like if we were creating sound consciously and consuming sound consciously and designing all our environments consciously for sound. That would be a world that does sound beautiful and one where understanding would be the norm. And that is an idea worth spreading."


We have a language-learning machine hidden in our brain?

Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It
by Gabriel Wyner 

I finally finished reading this book and it is a very, very good book. Highly recommended if you want to learn a new language. I find what Wyner says make perfect sense, and his learning strategy and ways workable. 

He talks about "comprehensible input" and refers to the "language-learning machine hidden within the brain of every child." He says, "Kids don't learn their language from just any kind of language input. The only input that seems to matter is input that kids can understand. In linguistic circles, this is known as comprehensible input. The basic idea is this: kids need to understand the gist of what they hear in order to learn a language from it."

If you try to learn languages in the way Wyner proposes, "you can feel your new language building itself in your mind. Instead of wasting your time on monotonous grammar drills, you're constantly encountering new words, new grammatical forms, and new ways to express yourself--a torrent of comprehensible input that feeds your language machine and helps you understand more and more every day...and you are not working; you are having fun."

Doesn't that sound awesome?

I now understand why I am finally learning to read and write Mandarin in stride. I have come a long way with the HSK decks I purchase that consist of flashcards with Mandarin sentences. I am revising these cards everyday with understanding and comprehension. 

Seriously, I have been trying in vain to learn the language all my life, formally when I was just a 7-year-old kid and when I was in university. After that, it was a half-hearted dabble here and there trying so hard to learn, memorize and recognize the characters but to my dismay, nothing seems to stick. 

It has now changed. I mentioned recently that it have only taken me two weeks to learn up all the 170 characters in HSK1. And given the fact that I have learnt HSK1 a couple of times before and that I have not done any work on HSK2, I thought it would take me much, much longer to master the second set. 

But it has only been 11 days since I started on HSK2 and I already know almost 90% of it. 

This book and the Anki deck really comes highly recommended if you desire to pick up a new language. And the beauty of it is that, as much as it really is hard work, I'm actually having loads of fun. 

Go get a copy of Fluent Forever and read it. Get the Anki app and use it. 

I promise you, it works. 


A true elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son?

The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
by Timothy Keller

We are using this book in our Covenant Group bible study, studying the Prodigal Son parable in Luke 15:11-32. This book by a Timothy Keller is quite good but there is one interpretation of this passage we have not encountered before. 

In my previous studies, I remember moving from a focus on the younger son to the elder son, a focus on the homecoming of the wayward to the selfish and unforgiving elder brother. 

But Keller brings it even further. He posits a view that in this parable, there is an implied lesson on Jesus being the true elder brother, someone who woulf go all out to search and bring back the younger brother back to the father, back to the family. 

While it is not unreasonable to have such a reading of the passage, can we go that way in proper exegesis of the passage?

I want to try to get to the bottom of this. 


Christ is risen indeed

I finished reading Köstenberger's book, The Final Days of Jesus, and found it excellent as a companion to reading the Scripture on a day-to-day basis during the Holy Week.

I have also concluded the daily readings everyday with the videos provided here, with this video on the Resurrection Day:

I will do this again next year, and make the passages of the Passion Week, of the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus the focus of my thought, meditation and commitment. 


From Comic Sans font to the Polyglot Gathering

I woke up very early this morning at 6:30am and couldn't get back to sleep and I ended up spending the whole morning learning quite a lot of things. 

I started going through my Anki decks like I do now every morning, and then I thought I'd check out my Facebook to see what's going on. It all began with this post from someone: Read This Before You Ever Make Fun of Comic Sans Again.

It's about how a dyslexic person found it easy to read with the Comic Sans font, though I now read that it may have been a hoax, I don't know. But I've always wondered what the dyslexics see when they read and so I began to google for some pictures but I was soon curious as to why and what is happening in the brain for the dyslexics. 

This set me off on a trail of articles and videos. I won't make mention of the articles but these videos I watched were really interesting. 

This one provides an answer to the question I had about what is happening in the brain for dyslexics. Here I learnt the connection between language, hearing, seeing, and understanding to the areas of the brain that manage this complex activity. 

Then I got curious about reading and the brain. When I did the Coursera course on linguistics, I was surprised to hear the lecturer say that reading is quite different from knowing and speaking a language, that it was a later development and is quite distinct from speaking and understanding languages, and that the brain had to change and give way to adjust to this new requirement.  

Then I saw this video in the recommendation pane and it was interesting to learn how brains can actually be healed and improved. His message was quite powerful and emotional, that a healing in the brain can have positive effects to the next few generations through mproved behaviour and actions. 

This TED Talk video has been nagging at the corner of my eye everywhere I go and so I finally succumbed and I'm glad I watched it. It dispelled my initial thought that the brain can never be regenerated. Now science tells us that it is indeed possible through the plasticity of the brain. 

Then I saw these words, the Polyglot's Brain, and that definitely hooked me. The quality of this video is not very good and the content could have been better but it was still quite informative. 

It was then that I realized that there is this whole hoard of videos from this group called the Polyglot Gathering. I need to find out more about them but I ended up with this final video of the morning, one I enjoyed the most. I later found out that the speaker Richard Simcott is a hyperpolyglot who speaks over 40 languages. Isn't that madness? His daughter when she was a toddler was using up to five languages! But he in turn advised and decided that five is the maximum number of languages one should have, in order to maintain them all in the learned levels. He also said that one must have a very good reason to choose a language to learn. Learning it because it's fun and that it's cool is not enough. This is because you will need a lot of time and effort not only to learn but to maintain them. 

This made me think that I need to slow down on my language learning and really learn for a purpose. I was thinking about learning French and German and Italian, but I think I need to just master my Mandarin for now, which I am quite pleased to report that just after three weeks, I am already midway through HSK2. And with my goal to complete it until HSK3, I think I am well paced. I don't think I will proceed with HSK4 and 5, at least not this year.

I have also downloaded two Cantonese Anki decks to improve my vocabulary, but only to listen and speak. This I am treading quite lightly, and mostly for fun. Just listening to the language itself makes me quite happy. 


Can God die? What does it mean for God to die?

In reading and meditating on the portion of Scriptures on Good Friday--the betrayal and arrest of Jesus, the Jewish trials, denial of Peter, the Roman trials, the crucifixion and the death of Jesus--I suddenly began to wonder and ask a question I realized I haven't asked before.

Can God die? 

Jesus is God and he died. I am not sure if that really answers the question. Let's say it does, but it then begs the next question. 

What does it mean for God to die?

I googled for any answers but could not find anyone that provides a good or satisfying one. This article by Veronica Neffinger, Crosswalk seems the best, but even then, she does not fully answer the question. 

She says, "This is a question that can easily get into the deep waters of theology," and I wonder why haven't it been picked up by the scholars. Maybe it's me who have not come across them, and so if you do know of any good books on this, please let me know.

Some explained that Jesus is both divine and human, and it was the human side of him who died. But I agree with the article that said, "Sproul reminds us that this would be a 'mutation within the very being of God.' The doctrine of the Trinity tells us that three separate and distinct persons make up the Godhead, and yet these persons are one." Sproul further explains it here

So I think it boils down to what Jesus cried out to the Father when he was on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt 27:46, Mark 15:34). 

Death is not becoming non-existent. Death, even to us mere human, is the experience of a separation. Where we are at this separation stage is still yet to be known. In that case, Jesus is experiencing a separation from the Father, while still maintaining his relationship with him in the Trinitarian Godhead. 

Jesus took the separation that will indeed be ours if we die without him. But now that Jesus has taken the separation in our place, we are reconciled and are in abode with the Father for eternity, for all time.

But of course, like Sproul suggested, that may even be the wrong question to ask.

Is it?

The article aptly concludes with a quote from Greg Laurie, "This message is so deep and profound that you could spend the rest of your life studying it and still not grasp its full significance. Yet it is so simple that even a child can understand it.  Still, many people do not understand the significance of what took place on that Roman cross 2,000 years ago.  Jesus died so that we might live."



Psalm 118: a fitting psalm before the darkest hours

I have been following Köstenberger's Final Days of Jesus since Monday and I was at the Maundy Thursday section today:

1. The preparation for the Passover
2. The Final Passover
3. The Last Supper and Jesus’s Cleansing of His Community 
4. The Farewell Discourse Begins 
5. The Farewell Discourse Continues 
6. Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denials 
7. Jesus Issues Final Practical Commands 
8. The Garden of Gethsemane

I learnt that at the closing of the Last Supper, "the last meal that Jesus would eat with his disciples, the last meal that Jesus would eat in his pre-glorified body, and the final Passover meal of the old covenant", "Jesus and the disciples sing a hymn together and then depart toward the Mount of Olives. Jews traditionally sang Psalms 113–118 during the Passover celebration, culminating in Psalm 118, so it is very likely that this was the final hymn sung by Jesus and his disciples before leaving the upper room and walking to the garden of Gethsemane."

If we take a look at Psalm 118, you can imagine how and what Jesus would have drawn from it as he prepares for the dark hours ahead: his steadfast love endures forever...out of my distress I called on the LORD...I will not's better to take refuge in the Lord...all nations surround me...I was pushed hard...glad songs of salvation...I shall not die, but I shall live...the stone that the builders rejected 
has become the cornerstone. 

What a fitting psalm to be sung at this time of such heaviness.  

Psalm 118:1-29 ESV
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 
for his steadfast love endures forever! 
Let Israel say, 
"His steadfast love endures forever."
Let the house of Aaron say, 
"His steadfast love endures forever." 
Let those who fear the LORD say, 
"His steadfast love endures forever." 

Out of my distress I called on the LORD; 
the LORD answered me and set me free. 
The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. 
What can man do to me? 
The LORD is on my side as my helper; 
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. 

It is better to take refuge in the LORD 
than to trust in man. 
It is better to take refuge in the LORD 
than to trust in princes. 

All nations surrounded me; 
in the name of the LORD I cut them off! 
They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; 
in the name of the LORD I cut them off! 
They surrounded me like bees; 
they went out like a fire among thorns; 
in the name of the LORD I cut them off! 

I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, 
but the LORD helped me. 
The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation. 

Glad songs of salvation 
are in the tents of the righteous: 
"The right hand of the LORD does valiantly, 
the right hand of the LORD exalts, 
the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!" 
I shall not die, but I shall live, 
and recount the deeds of the LORD. 
The LORD has disciplined me severely, 
but he has not given me over to death. 

Open to me the gates of righteousness, 
that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. 
This is the gate of the LORD; 
the righteous shall enter through it. 
I thank you that you have answered me 
and have become my salvation. 

The stone that the builders rejected 
has become the cornerstone. 
This is the LORD's doing; 
it is marvelous in our eyes. 
This is the day that the LORD has made; 
let us rejoice and be glad in it. 

Save us, we pray, O LORD! 
O LORD, we pray, give us success! 
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! 
We bless you from the house of the LORD. 
The LORD is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. 
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, 
up to the horns of the altar! 
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; 
you are my God; I will extol you. 
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 
for his steadfast love endures forever!


Which language would you like to learn?

I was reading some online articles on languages and I found this one quite interesting: What is the Best Language to Learn?

The article analyzed the languages based on different criteria including:
- most widely spoken (Mandarin, Spanish, English)
- most used for business (English, Mandarin, Japanese)
- ease of learning, for native English speakers (Spanish, Portuguese, French)
- most beautiful (French, Spanish, Italian)

It looks like Mandarin is the language to learn, but the article claimed that even though Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world, it will not become global because it is mostly only spoken in one region. There may be some truth in that, but for me who live and work in that region, it make sense for me to learn and improve my command of that language.

I have talked about the ease of learning languages here, and I believe that being familiar with several languages across the categories would make it easier for us to pick up any languages of choice. But having said that, learning a completely new language would still require a lot of passion, a lot of time, as well as good tools. 

About the beauty of languages, I do not agree with the article. I feel that it is in the personal judgement of every individual person. Some may feel Dutch is beautiful, or Hindi or Swahili for that matter. Personally, I feel that most Asian languages are beautiful, especially Japanese and Cantonese, the formal kind, especially its melodious four-character idioms, not the colloquial street kind. 

As I have blogged before, I am keeping up quite well in my learning of Mandarin. After that, I might want to pick up an European language: maybe French, but I am quite drawn to German as well. I also thought about improving my Cantonese, if not in reading and writing, at least in building up my scant vocabulary. 

Which languages would you like to learn, if you have the time and resources?


Farewell Lunch

My good friend at work will be leaving to join another company. All the best and good luck to you!


The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived

The church I am attending now does not observe Lent and I forgot that it is Palm Sunday today. This makes me miss the more traditional churches I have attended before. 

Therefore, it is good that I received an email from Crossway: A Day-by-Day Guide to the Holy Week. It is to be followed along with Andreas J. Köstenberger's book. 

The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived
by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Justin Taylor

I have not read it yet, and it will be good to stall what I am reading right now and spent the week reading this in meditation on the final days of Jesus, the most important week of the most important person who ever lived. 

As I began to read the Scripture passages, read the first chapters of the book and watched the video, we found that Jesus entered Jerusalem amidst people with high hopes and expectations. They wanted a political king to free them from the Roman Empire. 

It was a very volatile situation. The people wanted a revolution, the Jewish leaders most probably wanted things to remain status-quo with the Romans, and the Romans were keeping a close eye to all that is happening to ensure things don't go out of hand. 

But with all of that, Jesus has an entirely different and unexpected agenda in mind. 

What began as a small celebration of the beginning of the week, will turn to chaos, but will then in turn become the grandest celebration of mankind of all times. 


Did your old school now look smaller to you?

One of my friends was telling me that he visited his old school, which he has not set foot in the last ten years.

I asked him if he felt that his school has somehow grown smaller. He readily agreed and stated that even the school street looked small to him now. 

Now I know it's not just me. I felt that way when I decided to drive by my old school when I was in Klang one day. 

Methodist Girl's School Klang

It looked so much smaller. I remembered it as a grand place with its building blocks looming over me when I was there in my schooling days.

Could it be that when we were in school, it was not just a building but we saw it as a force, an authority, governing and dominating a large part of our lives? But as we leave school, we see more of life and we see the bigger world?

Or we could have just grown taller.


Oh I'm so pleased with myself

I am very pleased with my progress in my latest attempt to learn Mandarin. I found myself actually texting my language partner today in Mandarin without reverting to Google Translate, and that's something!

It is a very simple small-talk kind of conversation, so simple that you might laugh at me, but I feel it's quite an accomplishment for me nonetheless. 

There was more to the conversation but it went something like this:

The Anki HSK decks I purchased are very helpful in helping me learn the characters, and I managed to learn up the 170 characters in HSK1 in just two weeks. But I must say that this was more of a revision for me since I've tried learning HSK1 with an earlier app I purchased: StickyStudy. 

StickyStudy claims to be an SRS app but I feel that Anki is a better designed one with better time spacing between learning new cards and revising old cards for a more effective retention. 

I did reload StickyStudy back into my phone and revised all the cards into the green zone in just one day. I thought it would be helpful to look at the individual characters. But I will stick to the Anki HSK decks to learn Mandarin in sentences, rather than just memorizing characters, and use StickyStudy to revise my recognition of the individual characters after I've completed every section in Anki. 

It may have just me taken two weeks to learn up HSK1, but I will probably take much longer to learn the completely new HSK2 deck which I have not done before. But I'm fine with that. 

I'm just so pleased and feeling so proud of myself!


What is trust when there is no transparency?

People are usually secretive to begin with and when we have an organisation of people grouped together for a purpose, secrets abound. 

The topic of transparency is quite widely talked about these days. But it is quite a complicated thing. And what more, in this era where we feel information is so easily attainable, most of us would expect that all information should to be made readily available. 

But is that so? And is it wise to do so?

We do feel frustrated when we are not able to think and decide when we are not given all the information, and yet we are expected to deliver. Can we ask and demand for it or do we accept the fact that we do not fall in the need-to-know-basis category?

I found this article quite interesting: Transparency - exactly what do you mean?

I understand the need for secrecy when it comes to competition. The article says, "transparency calls for the balancing between openness of processes, financial performance, and decision-making vs. the secrecy required for competitive advantage, to protect intellectual and invested capital, and strategic planning. Most people are naturally protective of a new idea, product or initiative, concerned about the potential that someone else might steal their idea and beat them to market, or even improve on it before they can sell it to others and achieve some personal benefit...However, in recent years, open systems and sharing networks have started to prove that transparency in a broader sense can actually help companies, industries and clients – and can lead to enhanced profitability for many different organizations and community elements." 

But the article concluded that, "Transparency is making life a little uncomfortable for a large majority of leaders, but those who embrace these principles and find ways of integrating them into the operational flow of their organizations should see great benefits returned to their organization, teams, and communities. And, who knows, we as leaders may even eventually regain the trust and respect of our communities!"

So when will we really see openness and transparency? 


My April Book Haul

I am quite pleased with the April Kindle deals. I have bought six books so far from the non-fiction selection, with two more I'm still considering. 

I've started reading Death by Food Pyramid by Denise Minger, and it feels like a really good read so far.

I had planned to read a good fiction and have read the first few chapters of Geraldine Brooks' Year of Wonders, a historical fiction about the Great Plague in London but I couldn't help but get my hands on these more interesting non-fiction titles that I had to forgo it. book bliss moment.



My cousin brother texted us a copy of this really old photo of my maternal grandmother (front row, third from left) with my mom (front row, first from left), my aunt, and uncles. 

Don't they look precious?

Sadly, except for my mom, my uncle (second row, second from left) and my mom's cousin (second row, first from left) whom I do not know personally, all have passed on. 

The photo was sent to our cousins-group-chat and we had a good time reminiscing and remembering our late grandma, parents, uncles and aunties. 


Sermon series on Proverbs

We have started a new series of sermons in CDPC Puchong on the book of Proverbs. And here are the planned topics and passages for the next six months. 

I love the book of Proverbs and I really look forward to the sermon lessons. After all, the purpose of Proverbs is to know wisdom and to learn to fear the Lord as the beginning of knowing. 

I remember reading a preaching commmetary on Proverbs and dug it out for a re-read. 

Proverbs, Wisdom that Works
by Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. 

reviewed the book back in 2014. But with me being me, I'd have forgotten what I have read. Now that I am reading it again, I'm am blown away by the way Ortlund described the book of Proverbs. 

If you haven't had a copy of this commentary, I would highly recommend you get one and read it. 


Whatever we are, whoever we are, life is certainly tough

"You Look Like That Girl..."
by Lisa Jakub

I started reading this book by Lisa Jakub and I couldn't put it down...until I was too exhausted and need to get to bed and sleep. 

It gives a peek into the lives of actors and the entertainment industry and these portions of her writing caught me, making me see how different their lives may be from what we see. 

We actors had always come into homes in an intimate way, showing up in the living room at the appointed time every week and making ourselves part of the family. But something was shifting. This ownership of celebrities, this stalkerish pseudo-journalism and entitlement was becoming standard. This was no longer an era in which the film industry could keep Rock Hudson’s sexuality or Marilyn Monroe’s addictions private. Now, every time a celebrity took her kids to the park or ordered a latte, there was a stealth photo of the event, complete with commentary that took a decidedly disparaging bent. Actors’ very souls belonged to the public, becoming their very own communal puppy to adore and then kick when they got bored.

However, like many actors I knew, I failed miserably at feeling successful. When we signed autographs we worried we would be failures if we never signed another one. When we were auditioning, we worried we would never work again. When we were working, we worried that the film might be terrible and could ruin our careers. When the film came out, we worried about publicity and what our next move should be and wondered if the public was getting tired of us. Then, we’d start auditioning again and the whole vicious cycle would repeat.

The number of possible fatal missteps is endless, because the industry really is that fickle and the desire for money and fame is a bottomless pit. The poverty mindset becomes ingrained—never working enough, famous enough, paid enough, perked enough.

Whoever we are, wherever we are, life is tough. 


The allure of learning a new language

I am happy to report that I am still actively but slowly learning a new language, a topic that really fascinated me lately.

I have already spent more than a couple of hundred ringgit on tools and materials. And I have spent quite a lot of time making flashcards in Anki and going through them everyday. 

I did falter a little when someone questioned the importance of learning new languages. I did feel that it wasn't a very important thing to do or to have. After all, English is really all I need. 

And so why am I spending so much of my time on it. It is also not advancing as fast as I hoped. I feel it is going so slowly and I want to rush it but I can't. I want to already own the language but I don't. I am still so much of a beginner. I don't seem to see myself ever speaking or writing in anything other than English. 

So why am I doing it?

I have always been fascinated with languages but it become a bit more serious somewhere at the end of last year and I am still at it. I have been asked why the fascination, and I have not really come up with any satisfactory answers yet. 

And so I looked around a bit and then I found this excellent TED talk by John McWhorter:

Four reasons to learn a new language

Here are his four reasons:
1. To imbibe yourself in a new culture
2. Being bilingual slows dementia
3. It is fun
4. It has never been easier to learn any new languages of your choice

These are not new. I have already thought of them as my reasons for learning new languages but I like the way he put it, especially the fact that one can never live and experience a culture unless he also speaks its language. 

I don't think #2 will be any good for me, since I already speak four languages. 

But it is indeed fun: the sounds, the accent, the similarities. 

And what more, you don't need to go for classes or even get a teacher. There are so many tools and resources so readily available only at arms reach. 

Are you not taking the challenge? 

Yes, it's going to take a lot of time but imagine yourself speaking in a completely different language in one or two years' time.

Wouldn't it be awesome?


Things I take for granted

Our trip to Ipoh was for just a short 2 days 1 night thing and it's time to drive back today after lunch. But while I was driving back, I was a bit worried. 

I was using the trunk road yesterday and as I was trying to avoid some dirt on the road, I drove over a rather large pothole I didn't see and the thump on my wheels was bad. My mom got down to take a look but she said they still looked okay.

I stopped by the petrol station for a refill before we head home today and I took a look at all four tyres. I noticed that the front ones aren't in very good condition. I realized that I didn't check my wheels to ensure they are up to a long distance trip before even starting off yesterday. 

Ah...the things I always take for granted that they will work and alway work. I only hope they will not fail me before I realize it too late. 


Wonderful Things of the World #3: Dried Squid

I took a drive up north to Ipoh for a short stay with my parents, to spend some time with them and whilst we are at lunch today, my mom bought a packet of dried squids. 

There are many kinds of dried squids but this is by far the best I've tasted. It's light in colour and in strips. It may not be so healthy but it's oh so yummy. 


Prayer #1: These Inward Trials

I asked the Lord, that I might grow 
In faith, and love, and every grace; 
Might more of His salvation know, 
And seek more earnestly His face.  

T'was He who taught me thus to pray  
and He I trust has answered prayer,  
but it has been in such a way  
it almost drove me to despair.  

I hoped that in some favored hour 
At once He'd answer my request, 
and by His love's constraining power 
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.  

Instead of this, He made me feel 
the hidden evils of my heart; 
And let the angry powers of hell 
Assault my soul in every part.  

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed 
Intent to aggravate my woe; 
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, 
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.  

'Lord, why is this?' I trembling cried, 
'Wilt thou pursue Thy worm to death?' 
'This in this way,' the Lord replied, 
'I answer prayer for grace and faith.  

These inward trials I employ 
From self and pride to set thee free; 
And break thy schemes of earthly joy, 
That thou mayst seek thy all in Me.'  

~ John Newton


New Friends becoming Old Friends


Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends.
~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them. 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

To be with old friends is very warming and comforting. 
~ Ian Ziering

Lay this unto your breast: Old friends, like old swords, still are trusted best. 
~ John Webster

Old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.
~ Athenaeus

Make new friends, but keep the old; Those are silver, these are gold. 
~ Joseph Parry


I hope I am finally learning Mandarin

I finally decided to purchase the RM105 Anki iOS flashcard app. It's crazy right? Especially when all three of the computer, web and Android apps are free of charge. 

I have never spent so much on an app before. The last time I spent about RM60 was on a GPS app, before Waze was available. 

I have decided to get it because I can see that it is quite a powerful app and I am actually learning a language. I found this free HSK1 deck that suit my needs and I ended up purchasing the whole set from HSK1 to HSK5. I got it with a very good discount from here

HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi) or the Chinese Proficiency Test is an international standardized exam which tests and rates Chinese language proficiency. Here is a sample of one of its flashcards in Anki:

It comes with a recording of the sentence. Using the SRS method, if I got it right, I can either tap to review it again in one or four days time, depending on my familiarity with it. 

I like it that it presents the HSK characters in sentences rather than just words. I once bought the StickyStudy app with HSK1 but I found it so hard to learn it character by character. It was boring and I can't put them in any context and meaning. With Anki, I hope I will be able to at least learn some basic Mandarin within the next few months. 

I hope I will graduate from being a banana to not be one anymore! (Banana, being a Malaysian slang for "outside yellow, inside white".)


Rock It Now!


We had our 2017 annual dinner with a Rock It Now theme. It was quite fun dressing up with all-black including my lipstick. 


And for the first time, I won an annual dinner lucky draw. Not bad with a 3% probability of winning the bigger prizes. But I'm not an Android user. Anyone interested? I'll sell it cheap. 


Love the questions...not seek the answers

You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves—like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. The point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet


I bought four books

I buy books when I am waiting for something and I just did that today. I bought these four Kindle books. They are on sale anyway. Except for the first book at $3.99, the rest are only $1.99 a copy. 

How Should We Then Live?
by Francis A. Schaeffer 

Surprised by Oxford, A Memoir
by Carolyn Weber
Miracles and Mayhem in the ER
by Brent Rock Russell

"You Look Like That Girl..."
by Lisa Jakub


An app for $25?

I have started using the Memrise app for a few months now and I find it quite good and effective. However, in reading Fluent Forever, it recommended using the spaced repetition or SRS method. 

And the very much talked about SRS app is Anki

The PC app is free and apparently it is a very powerful tool. But its iOS app cost $25! That is crazy. 

But there are many who swears by it and felt that it is worth the $25. 

It was said that the developer spent years developing the app supported by donations but it wasn't enough to sustain his work and so when he created the iOS app, and charged good money for it. So in a sense, it's like a donation to support his work across all the platforms. I suppose it sort of make sense in that he could also distribute the charges across all platforms, meaning I would have to pay for the PC version I am using now for free. 

It is frustrating though that the Android app is free of charge. It seems however, the Android version was not developed by him. 


What new thing did you learn today?

I was following a lecture on Coursera today and the professor said we should aim to learn a new thing everyday, and I think that is a brilliant thing to do. 

I am an avid learner and I do learn new things quite often. But I don't usually acknowledge that I do and on days when I am really busy and too occupied with routine, I don't learn anything at all. 

Since I like to keep list of stuff, maybe I should keep a daily list of things I learn everyday just to make sure I do. What more with the many resources we have online, learning new things has become so easy these days. 

Here are 40 places where you can learn something new, and that is just the beginning. 


Only one thing true, Jesus it is you

I learnt this song last year and I slowly fell in love with it.  It was in my darker moments over the past year that this song have touched me and moved me, back to trusting all in God, in Jesus, even if nothing seems to be right. 

Jesus It Is You - True Worshippers (Composed by Ben Manusama)


My biological clock failed me

I am bad at time management but I always make sure I am punctual. However, I turned up late for something this morning. I have always been waking up very early lately and I thought I could trust my so-called biological clock but it failed me today. I had a 9 o'clock thing to attend to but I woke up at 8:55! Thankfully, it wasn't that far away from home and I wasn't that late as a result. But still I was late nonetheless, no excuse. I need to be more careful.

If I have made an appointment with you, I owe you punctuality, I have no right to throw away your time, if I do my own. 
~ Richard Cecil

Punctuality is the politeness of kings. 
~ Louis XVIII of France

Punctuality is the soul of business. 
~ Thomas Chandler Haliburton

Punctuality is the virtue of the bored. 
~ Evelyn Waugh


Google Photos surprised me

I just started using Google Photos and to my surprise I found that it has on its own accord created a panoramic picture out of two shots which I have taken.

I am not sure if this is considered as artificial intelligence, but it does seem to be. Isn't it magnificent?


How much is enough? It's all in the mind

My colleagues and I had lunch in Samplings at 14 in Berjaya Times Square. It's fine dining and food is served in small portions but as I counted the calories, it could come up to 600 or 700, which is a lot for a meal.

But one of us felt it wasn't enough and went for an extra helping of soup from the deli next door! 

But it's all in the mind, don't you think?

Photos by Teresa Lee

And I thought water is just water

In my reading of The Art and Craft of Tea, I found this interesting section on water.

The author, Joseph Wesley Uhl said, "Most water contains molecules of dissolved oxygen. People often refer to water containing high levels of dissolved oxygen as tasting 'crisp', whereas they refer to water containing low levels of dissolved oxygen as tasting 'dull'. A crisp-tasting tea is unequivocally preferable to a dull-tasting tea.Therefore, it is important that your water be aerated; it should contain dissolved oxygen."

I have not come across water as tasting crisp before, like it's potato chips, but I can certainly agree that sometimes the water that I drink has this dull taste to it, that it is because of the absence of dissolved oxygen.

How I wish now I have an access to fresh spring water.

I am beginning to understand why my son refuses to take water that I boil at home. He prefers bottled mineral water that I purchase. I remember asking him why, and he told me it is because he does not like its taste.

As for me, I am okay with boiled water—I grew up with it—but I do not like the reverse osmosis water as it gives me a dry sense in the mouth and throat after taking it. I don't think reverse osmosis water is good for us but I drink it almost every day at work.

And I thought water is just water.


A live experience with a self-victimizer

I was facilitating a training on teamwork, communication and influencing skills for managers today, and at the end of the session, one of them started a conversation with me wanting to find out ways to manage someone in her life. She felt that she finds it so difficult to manage the person, and whatever she said or did, it does not seem to bring any help or change. She is very frustrated and could not for the life of her figure out why the person is behaving in that way. 

We tried to look at the models which I have shared during the session, but after an hour of trying to understand her predicament, it began to sound more and more like a classic case of self-victimization.

I recognized it because like what I had blogged about a week agoDo You See Yourself as a Victim?where I was watching a Korean drama and found the whole drama quite frustrating because almost every character was self-victimizing themselves to the core, when she described to me how the person had been behaving, it began to sound so familiar, and I found myself inferring to the drama describing to her what self-victimization looks like. 

Little did I know that it pays to watch Korean dramas sometimes! 

I advised her to read up about the behaviour and I did some search for it myself and found this excellent paper published by INSEAD: Are You a Victim of the Victim Syndrome? (2012)

It is a very informative paper. It describes the behaviour, provides a checklist that can be used to identify the sufferers, describes the concept of secondary gain (the "benefits" people get from perpetuating a problem), the developmental origins of the victim mind-set, and advice on how to help people who suffer from the victim syndrome. 

The world that these people live in appears to be filled with victims, victimizers and rescuers. They are usually victims by choice and they fall into a spiral cycle of repeated playing the game of being a victim, becoming a victimizer of others, and looking for rescuers but ironically refusing to be "saved". 

In my last post, I said that those who have this syndrome will never realize it until someone points it out to them. But now I think even that is a very challenging thing to do. It will take a lot for them to realize and admit they have a problem. 

The article says, "People who like to play the victim must challenge their ingrained beliefs, and learn to assume responsibility and care for themselves, rather than look elsewhere for a savior...what helps victims best is the development of a healthier self-concept."

They need to own their own lives and be honest about themselves, and that, is a tall order. 

If you have such a person in your life, and more so if that person is someone important to you, much care is needed in looking for the best way to get to them to make them realize the vicious cycle they are in. 


Design Thinking for Innovation

I have been introducing to a lot of people and in checking the site on mobile before I sent the link to a friend, I saw this course on "Design Thinking for Innovation".

I have been seeing and hearing this thing Design Thinking for too many times now, at work and even in church, where the playschool do have some professionals in to run a cool Design Thinking for Kids event. Moreover, I will be meeting someone at work to check it out.

So I signed up to find out a little more about it.

I have just started on Week One but I must say it is a very good start and I look forward to learning more about it in the weeks to come.


The Art and Craft of Tea

The Art and Craft of Tea: An Enthusiast Guide to Selecting, Brewing and Serving Exquisite Tea
by John Wesley Uhl

I wanted to read something lighter and thought this would be an interesting read. It is. I love tea and this would feed me with much interesting info-facts but the only problem is I usually don't remember much of what I read and I'd soon forget most of it. 


Happy People #2

We celebrated my cousin brother's 55th birthday today with family, with my uncle, aunties, cousins, nephews and nieces. 

This was the cake we got for him, not that he plays mahjong. Too amusing for words really. 

The whole gang though not all in the family was able to make it. 

Us girls. 

It is his plan to celebrate it every five years, like he did when he was fifty  and we should take similar pictures in five years timetable 60!