The one quote that baffles me

I began reading the book I bought yesterday, Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews and at the beginning, right in Chapter 3, I read something I can't figure out, however hard I tried to wrap my head round it, which I did try the whole day today. 

"...dreams are who you are when you’re too tired to be yourself."

What is the meaning of that? What am I when I'm too tired to be myself?

I still can't make out what's it's suppose to mean. Can you?


Two Promising Books

I haven't been reading much fiction lately but when I received an email from Amazon to check out its monthly deals before the month runs out, these two titles stood out for me. 

The first is a book about readers, reading and bookshops. And any books on readers, reading and bookshops would definitely interest me. The book cover alone is enough to draw me in. 

I clicked on the second book without realizing it's a book about the comfort women of Korea. I only got to know about them recently when I read about the history of Korea in Korea, The Impossible Country. The author here has weaved a story about a former sex slave, about life, loss, survival and triumph. Mike Honda who reviewed the book said, "Author William Andrews weaves a narrative that honors the 200,000 sex slaves of the Japanese Imperial Army in WWII, and brings to light this historical, systematic atrocity."

I am really looking forward to dig in. 

The Bookshop on the Corner, A Novel
by Jenny Colgan

Daughters of the Dragon, A Comfort Woman's Story
by William Andrews


Best time traveling episode ever

I love watching movies and TV dramas about time traveling but I think of all time traveling shows, this one from Doctor Who is by far the best and the scariest of them all, Don't Blink!


Speak Hokkien and Cantonese

My friend sent me this video which I thought was quite brilliant. I speak very, very little Hokkien but I can still make out some of the few words used by the speaker. 

This is the first Cantonese TED Talk that I listened to and it is a good thing. I plan to check them out and listen to more. 

It is decades now since I've listened to Cantonese sermons back when I was still in my family church. I didn't realize I miss it. 


Life's becoming routine but I like it

The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine. 
~ Mike Murdock

Most of life is routine - dull and grubby, but routine is the momentum that keeps a man going. If you wait for inspiration you'll be standing on the corner after the parade is a mile down the street. 
~ Ben Nicholas

For pragmatic reasons, I love the routine. I love the structure of it. I love knowing that my days are free. I know where I'm going at night. I know my life is kind of orderly. I just like that better. 
~ Andrea Martin

I began to realize how simple life could be if one had a regular routine to follow with fixed hours, a fixed salary, and very little original thinking to do. 
~ Roald Dahl


Great teamwork!

I spent most of today getting ready for our company's Climbathon event. This is a really great and fun team to work together. And we made 60 people climb 12 floors of stairs!


Yummiest stewed lamb shank with only two ingredients

I brought my own lunch to work today and it was so good. The weird thing though is that I only used two ingredients to make it: a lamb shank and an onion. 

I put the lamb shank and the diced onion into the pressure cooker and cooked it for half an hour. Then I separate flesh from bone, remove the oils and pop it into the freezer. 

This morning, I brought it to work and placed it in the office fridge freezer. I reheated it in the microwave for 6 minutes, and it was the most delicious lunch I've had in the office in a long time. 

This made me remember one thing that Michael Pollan said in the last Coursera lecture I attended. 

He said that cooking isn't so complicated if we don't make it so. All you need to have in your home are these few basic ingredients: olive oil, onions, garlic, lemons, sugar, and salt. And as an Asian, adding soy sauce and oyster sauce would complete the list. 

All the time, I thought that the more ingredients I put in, the more complete the dish. But now I think differently. What's more important to me currently is to actually get back to cooking and so the easier and the simpler it is, the better. 

So with just some meat and an onion, how much simpler can it get. 


How a dog I don't have stopped a break-in to my house

Someone tried to break into our house at 5:45 this morning. But we got down just in time to avert it. My hubby got down to switch the porch lights back on, and the perpetrator ran away. 

This was how they tried to break in. I thank God we managed to stop them in time. 

But how I was woken up to realize what was happening is quite amazing I think. And I firmly believe that it was my God who woke me up to take care of the situation before it was too late. 

And with that, God certainly has a good sense of humour. Here's what happened:

Firstly, we don't have a dog. Having a dog in such a circumstance will be useful but we don't. 

But in that exact same time that morning, I dreamt I had one and it was barking frantically outside my house. I got down to open the door and when I did, my dog flew through the door railings towards my head and because of that I woke up with a jump. 

That was when I heard the grating noise downstairs and woke my hubby to check it out. 

Now you tell me God did not send me a dream dog to wake me up to chase the perpetrator away. 

And maybe it's time to get a real dog. 


Lord, purify my heart, correct me, discipline me

Our sermon this morning by Rev Wong Fong Yang is on Proverbs 3:11-12, entitled Do Not Despise the Lord's Discipline

We would normally accept discipline when we know we have done wrong and the Lord disciplines us, but it is when we have not done anything wrong, the Lord still disciplines us. Why?

The answer is pretty straight forward, though hard to take: it is because He loves us and wants to mature us.  If you imagine yourself not having gone through any difficult periods in your life, how would you have turned out to be? Not a very matured or nice person for that matter I'd say.

So be glad for the Father's discipline on us, his children, whom he loves. 

I was worship leading today and I picked Refiner's Fire as the song of response which was most appropriate. I had the privilege to have my former vocal teacher, Charity Lee, to be my back-up (what are the odds? We ended up attending the same church!). It was fulfilling to sing the song with her, calling out to God to purify and cleanse us. 

I found this video by Jeremy Passion and The Katinas who did an amazing job on the song. I kept listening to it over and over again as I work on this post. What a lovely interpretation of the song. 

Do take a listen. 


Walk and not faint


The floor scooped me up where I stood, and I blinked as it hit me.
~ M. Beth Bloom, Drain You  

I always thought fainting showed an inherent weakness of character, but I understood it now. It was an act of self-preservation. Confronted by emotion too extreme to handle, the body shuts down to keep from running around like a chicken with its head cut off, potentially injuring itself.  
~ Karen Marie Moning 

The life of faith is not a life of mounting up with wings, but a life of walking and not fainting.  
~ Oswald Chambers 


About the Likert Scale

I learnt quite a lot about surveys today. It has been awhile since I've studied statistics. And on top of that, surveys also take into account psychology. With that, I find it is a very interesting topic. 

I have been using the phrase "Likert Scale" a lot only to find out now that it is based on a seminal article written by Rensis Likert in 1932: A Technique for the Measure of Attitudes

It is a long article. This other article would be a shorter one to get a summary of what is discussed. 

My take away from it is that the Likert Scale is ordinal and not interval in nature. 

Statistically speaking, an ordinal scale refer to a scale where the order of the values is what’s important and significant, but the differences between each one is not really known. 

Interval scales on the other hand are numeric scales in which we know not only the order, but also the exact differences between the values.

The Likert Scale is an ordinal one and as such we cannot use mean or average and standard deviations to analyze the results. The median and mode should be used instead but I do see many reports that use the average to analyze the data. 

The other thing that I learnt is about central tendency. I've always thought that it better to have an even level of values than odd, so that respondents do not always be neutral but decide between a positive or negative. 

An example of an even one is Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree and Strongly Disagree as opposed to an odd one, Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree or Disagree, Disagree and Strongly Disagree. 

Now I am not so sure. It is true that in some areas, respondents are indeed neutral about it and forcing them to make a choice would reduce the accuracy of the survey results.

What do you think?


My May Book Haul

The non-fiction Kindle deals in Amazon isn't so great this month of May. There wasn't any that I took interest in, but I decided to take another look today and ended up with these three. I am quite happy with them. They look promising and  I hope they will turn out to be good reads. 

The History and Uncertaint Future of Handwriting
by Anne Trubek

Secrets from the Eating Lab
by Traci Mann, Ph.D

Merriam-Webster's Vocabulary Builder, 2nd Edition
by Mary Wood Cornog


Naps are good for you

We have the day off today and for someone who never ever take a nap, I was napping away in the afternoon, and in the heat too, and thankfully I didn't get a headache as a result like I usually do after I sleep in the afternoon. 

Naps are supposed to be good for you, right?


Language and thinking - what's the connection?

As I drove to work this morning, I decided to return to my old habit of driving in silence to think and talk to myself. I have been listening to the radio too much lately anyway. 

And so I did just that - think and talk to myself as I commute. 

Midway through, I thought I should do it in Mandarin, since I need to get used to speaking in Mandarin anyway but I immediately got stuck. 

I couldn't do it. I couldn't think at all. I do not have enough knowledge or a fluency of the language to facilitate my thinking. This brought me to conclude that language and thinking is very, very closely connected. 

John W. Santrock in his book on psychology said that, "The relationship between language and thinking is an important question in psychology. Most agree that language (that is, words), plays an important role in memory and thinking...language determines the way we think."

Is that so?

Would you be able to think more effectively and deeply if you improve your command of your language? Is it true that if any one word does not exist for you, you will have no knowledge or understanding of that thing? And even if you have a picture of it, would you be able to articulate it well enough to explain it? 

I think it is debatable. 

So do what do you think is the role of language in thinking? Do we think using language, or do we only use language to express already made up thoughts?

Ah, I now have something new for me to find out and learn. 


Understanding the Brain

I stayed in during lunch today and I thought I'd check out Coursera to see if there is something interesting to learn. I have mentioned before that I am interested to learn more about the brain and I found this course. 

I signed up though the course is very long: a full 10-week course. The longest of all Coursera courses I've ever taken. 

The lecturer is Dr Peggy Mason, Professor of Neurobiology and she is actually quite funny and witty at times. I completed Week 1 during lunch today, I enjoyed listening to her and I learnt so much. 

It's going to be long and tedious but I am looking forward to the following 9 weeks. 


Did you know where the word "goodbye" came from?

My dad is someone who refuses to use the word "goodbye" and would prefer either "good night" or "see you again." 

This was brought up during our bible study today and we begin to then ask what is the meaning of the word anyway. 

It really surprised us to find out that goodbye is a contraction of God be with you

From the Wiktionary's section on its etymology, the word came from an earlier Godby, Godby'e, Godbwye, God b'w'y, God bwy yee, God buy you, God be wi' you, each a progressively shorter contraction of God be with you. Note the change of God to good by confusion with good morning, good day, etc. 

In that case, it's actually good to say goodbye, isn't it? I'd be wishing that God will be with you. 


Yummy Insalata Brezzolata

I seldom order a salad for a meal but after watching all those lectures on food and health by Stanford University, I thought I'd better begin to load on greens rather than meat. 

My son and I was at Bru Cafe in Faber Tower, Taman Desa today and I decided to take just a salad for lunch. 

Insalata Brezzolata
Mesclun Salad, Provola Cheese, Pear, Bacon, Mushrooms, Sultanas, Croutons, Walnuts, Capsicum and Sesame Seeds

By just looking at the ingredients and picture in the menu, it made me salivate. And yes, it was a very delicious salad. And it has given me an idea to whip up one myself at home, since my next stop will be to the grocery store anyway. 


What I need to do now is to open my mouth and speak it

I am getting on quite well with my vocabulary learning using HSK3 though I have cut down the daily number of new cards by half compared to HSK1 and 2 since words in HSK3 are ones I am less familiar with. 

It took me about one month to learn 300 words/347 characters in both HSK1 and HSK2. 

I am now about 10 days into the second month and I'm quite surprised I'm already halfway through HSK3, which has 300 words/270 characters. 

I am continually amazed with the beauty of the language. The Chinese characters are made up of both symbols and pictorials, combining them to give them their meaning. 

Take for example this word 接 that was new in my list today:

It is made up of 扌hand, 立 stand and 女 female. Based on my own logic, so I may not be right after hand, to me it means "to stand with hands to receive in ladylike gentleness." 

When I saw it that way, I had no problems remembering the word, which was challenging at first because there are many characters in the deck with the sound "jie" in its various tones. It's hard to differentiate which is which. 

However, I still find it hard to actually speak Mandarin. I can now understand why my cousin brother who once told me he actually had to force himself to open his mouth to speak English in order to improve in it. 

Looks like I have to open my mouth and start speaking Mandarin or I'll never do it. 


Book Review: North Korea Confidential

North Korea Confidential: Private Markets, Fashion Trends, Prison Camps, Dissenters and Defectors
by Daniel Tudor and James Pearson

I have read a few books related to North Korea and with that you can say that I am quite intrigued by this mysterious and fascinating country. And so when I found this book written by Daniel Tudor, who is The Economist's Korea Correspondent, I quickly grabbed a copy. 

It is an interesting read, and it proposes that the lives of North Koreans is not quite what the usual reports or news make them out to be, even more so since the recent devastating famine of the 1990s which became a catalyst for change, with black markets for skinny jeans, homemade beer, DVDs and USB sticks for foreign movies and TV shows, computers and such. 

North Koreans may know more than you think they do and most no longer believe that South Koreans are worse off than them, but are in fact living lives far beyond what they can imagine. 

The authors conclude that, "the most likely scenario for North Korea in the short and medium term is the gradual opening of the country under the rule of the current regime. But North Korea, this profit-driven, feudalistic, traditional Korean “socialist paradise,” has long had the power to surprise. No-one really knows what the North Korea of 10 or 20 years hence will look like. In the meantime, we continue to watch with a mixture of frustration and hope."

If you are curious like me about this country, this is a highly recommended read; the best by far. 


Do you know what you eat?

have always been interested in food and nutrition, and had once even tried to see if I could enroll in a degree programme. I didn't commit though. 

And so when I saw this programme being offered by Stanford in Coursera, I quickly signed up.

It's very basic but very good, just nice and enough to learn about food and health for the time being. 

Death by Food Pyramid
by Denise Minger

I also read this book recently and my take away from it is not to believe in everything I read about food and what they claim is good or not good for you. I usually don't because most of those articles usually just go by a few anecdotes to promote their claims and beliefs. But after reading the book, I came to realize that even empirical studies are not as clear cut as they claim to be. 

Food is much more complicated than just its components and nutrients, it's a system. 

Michael Pollan who was featured in the Stanford course said that, "people like to figure [food] out because then you can just adjust that one thing and go on your merry way, but we haven't gotten that down yet. We don't know the answer to that question with any real confidence." 

With that, we still do not know for sure what is good and bad for sure but there are still some foods to avoid especially trans-saturated fats, fats that are made from oils through partial hydrogenation, a food processing method, that will increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol and lower healthy HDL cholesterol. 

I've already banned McDonald's from my food list with it being very calorie expensive. Now I will also be banning food like french fries, fried or battered food (oh no, there goes my fried chicken), margarine, frozen dinners, instant noodles, doughnuts, cookies, crackers, pies, pancakes, waffles, ice cream, nondairy creamer, and cakes.

I don't eat most of those food anymore, but some of them I might not be able to ban completely, but to eat less of them I shall. 


Fabricated City 조작된 도시 ★★★★☆

I have not gone to the cinema for quite awhile now and my good friend Wee Yin who recommends me loads of Korean movies to watch suggested we go to the cinema to watch one. 

And I immediately thought it was a splendid idea. 

But she said we will need to wait for a Korean movie festival. So I tried checking out what's in the cinemas, and there is indeed one Korean movie showing. 

Fabricated City (2017)

So we went and watched it today, and I must say, it was quite good. Predictable but good nonetheless. 

It was a tad too violent for me but I really love the action, the humour, the emotions, the car chase and especially this one drifting scene which was awesome. There is however, one ridiculous car scene that does not make sense. 

And I found this review of the movie by Rob Hunter very well written: 'Fabricated City' Livens Up a Familiar Plot With Stylish Action and Dramatic Brutality. Compared to another review I read, I find Hunter knows the Korean movie genre pretty well. 

The movie shows reality as it is, dark and real, very much like most good Korean movies do. Hunter says, the protagonist "Kwon Yu's time in prison is rough — he’s beaten on a regular basis, and after tangling with a resident gang leader named Ma he also finds himself sexually assaulted. This is no Tom Selleck in An Innocent Man where he comes close to being raped but narrowly avoids it — Kwon Yu is not so lucky — and his spiral of despair leads him to attempt suicide by chewing at his own wrists. It does not dodge the darkness."

Well, except that I found the level of technology portrayed in the movie a little too far fetched, or is it not?


How life should be

Today's sermon was on Proverbs 3:1-8. I find that this passage is divided into four parts, each with what we are called to do, what we are to do and what will happen when we do: peaceful, successful, good and content. 

(1) Do not forget God's teaching but to know it and obey it, and we will have long peaceful days
My son, do not forget my teaching, 
   but let your heart keep my commandments, 
   for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. 

(2) Keep steadfast love and faithfulness as a way of life in whatever we do and we will succeed wherever we will be
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; 
   bind them around your neck;  
   write them on the tablet of your heart. 
   So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. 

(3) Trust in God, not self, not materially, not abilities, but put our security completely in God, and our paths with be the right and good paths
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, 
   and do not lean on your own understanding. 
   In all your ways acknowledge him, 
   and he will make straight your paths. 

(4) Fear the Lord, for this is is our whole duty, and life will be full and content 
Be not wise in your own eyes; 
   fear the LORD, 
   and turn away from evil. 
   It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

Sounds easy but if you think about it, it is a complete surrender to God, to deny self, to take up the cross and to follow Him. It's the only way it will work. It's the only way life will work. 


Romancing the Chicks

Romancing the Chicks
by Mandaar Sukhtankar

I received a recommendation from Amazon to try this book by Mandaar Sukhtandar who is an executive chef in The Park, Hyderabad and who was recently named Chef of the Year 2016 at The Times Food and Nightlife Awards.

In reading the preview, I like his voice and what he wrote: "we spend a lifetime trying to satisfy our desires...(but) once we have it, do we really value it as much? In essence we need to let a bit of the desire remain in order to completely enjoy what we have."

That to me is a very interesting way of putting it and it is indeed how I usually feel most of the time, not only in food but also especially in the mystery of things. Maybe that is why I love to learn and that when I learn, I learnt that there is really so much more to learn. 

However, from a review I read in, with it being a collation of his newspaper articles into the book, it became a tad too disjointed and repetitive, that it's only a good light and decent read. 

It is not within my budget to spend $6.66, albeit at a currently 83% discounted price, on a light read and so most probably I will not be getting it...or should I?


Which colours are you usually drawn to?

I have not played much with fingernail polish in several years but I decided to get some today. And from one of the colours that I've chosen, I realised I am quite attracted to stuff in this deep cyan shade with a hex value of #34606f. My iPad and iPhone cases are somewhat in that shade as well. 


Wonderful Things of the World #4: Pumpkin Seeds

Recently, I have been eating quite a lot of pumpkin seeds. They are tasty and they pack a punch of nutrients. 

I got this list of benefits from care2 Healthy Living:

- Pumpkin seeds contain L-tryptophan, which helps promote sleep and fight depression. 
- Tryptophan is converted into serotonin and niacin, which aids in sleeping. 
- Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols, compounds that that have been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol. 
- Pumpkin seeds are filled with lots of minerals including phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, iron and copper. 
- They are a good source of vitamin K. 
- High in zinc, pumpkin seeds are a natural protector against osteoporosis, since zinc deficiencies can lead to higher rates of osteoporosis. 
- In a study of almost 400 men (age from 45-92) published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found a correlation between low dietary intake of zinc, low blood levels of the trace mineral and osteoporosis at the hip and spine. 
- Pumpkin seeds are a good source vitamin E; they contain about 35.10 mg of tocopherol per 100 g. 
- They are the most alkaline-forming seed. 
- Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of vitamin B group (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 and folates). 
- 100 g of pumpkin seeds contains about 30 grams of protein. 
- According to studies, pumpkin seeds prevent calcium oxalate kidney stone formation. 
- Pumpkin seeds reduce inflammation and counter arthritis pain without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs. 
- They are used in many cultures as a natural treatment for tapeworms and other parasites. 
- Pumpkin seeds are good for prostate health. 
- The oil in pumpkin seeds alleviates difficult urination that happens with an enlarged prostate.


Brainy books

I have done so many sessions of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People workshops that I can do it my sleep. But I have been telling many stories about the brain, from the very, very little that I know, so much so that I think I should get some good books to read to spruce up my knowledge. 

I think the brain is the most interesting organ and there is still so much to learn about it. I found these books and there are now in my Amazon wishlist. I will be getting a couple of them to read soon. 

Do you have any to recommend?


My Chinese Songs Playlist

With my latest project in learning and brushing up on my Mandarin, I spent some time listening to some Mandarin songs and ended with this new playlist that only has six songs to date - the playlist will grow as I add on to it.

But I am just amazed that with just this short list itself, there are five languages being used: Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, Korean and English. And what more, with an artiste with a Malay-sounding name, Khalil. Other than my two all-time favourite oldies that I have blogged before, and one old Faye Wong cover song, the rest are pretty new. Don't ask me why I like them, they just sound good to me. 

The lyrics that Apple Music use for these songs are all in Traditional Chinese, whereas I am learning the Simplified one, but I can still figure it out here and there, unless the song is too fast for me to catch up. 

I can't really believe it, I am actually singing Mandarin songs looking at the lyrics. 


My Movie Binge

We have a declared public holiday today and I decided to stay home to catch up on some things. I also managed to catch up on some movies that I have missed. In fact, I actually kind of had a movie binge. 

Firstly, I watched La La Land. With it being so highly rated, and after winning so many awards, I was really looking forward to watch it. My verdict? A huge disappointment...big time. It started alright but by the time I got to the middle of the movie, it got so boring and so sluggish I couldn't finish it. I fast forwarded to the end, and I'm done with it. My good friend Wee Yin commented that in this epoch of superhero movies, the younger viewers may have found a musical refreshing. But we more senior ones who have watched much higher standard musicals like Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, or  even Fame, La La Land to us just do not make the cut. 

La La Land ★☆☆☆☆

Unsatisfied, I had to watch something good and decided on J.K. Rowling's Fanstastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I have not been very keen to watch Eddie Redmayne lately, probably because he is everywhere, appearing in so many movies in a such very short period of time. But this movie was so entertaining, I had so much fun watching it. I love the characters. It could have been much better if there were more character development of the beasts themselves. I am really looking forward to the next one with my all-time favourite actors: Jude Law and Johnny Depp.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them ★★★★☆

Having found myself on the roll watching movies, I picked Deadpool as my next one. It was fun, though some of the jokes sounded kind of stale to me and I found the violence a bit too much. But it was nice to watch pretty boy Ryan Reynolds in this rough and tough character. 

Deadpool ★★★☆☆

I then finished it off with Kubo and the Two Strings, which turns out to be the best of the lot. It is an amazing stop-motion movie that took them two years of filming on a 12-foot table and 3D printers. I think they did use some form of CGI as well, and one huge giant monster that wouldn't have fit the table. The plot is good, acting voices excellent, dialogue homorous and deep at times. It's a must watch.

Kubo and the Two String ★★★★★


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.