Saturday, December 05, 2015

Cat and consequences

Thought the cat was sick this morning. When I woke up, he was alternating between trying to attract my attention and avoiding me. He tried to hide in the wardrobe, but only succeeded in knocking over my t-shirt stack to the floor. He was meowing like he was hungry, but refused to eat his breakfast.

Then, I saw the study door open. He must have got in during the night. On the carpet, there were the remains of a large vacuum-sealed package of pork floss meant as a Christmas pressie for someone. More than half the contents were missing.

I exited the study, and it was obvious that the cat had gone into hiding. There was a suspiciously large lump under the living-room carpet. Such a ninja, that cat. I lifted the carpet, and stroked him gently until he resumed purring. I had to make sure he absolutely knew he was forgiven.

Which makes me wonder: I know he is smart enough to open doors. A problem-solver, that one. But could he possibly be smart enough to know that what he did was wrong, and that there would be dire consequences when his human found out? And are cats capable of feeling guilt? Or am I reading too much into his somewhat abnormal behaviour?
The perp.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Star Wars at Changi Airport

Have to thank Uncle Moe for the gift of a re-contracted Samsung Note 5. No, this post is not a review of the new toy, but a sample platform for its photographic capabilities. And what better way to initiate testing than by visiting Changi Airport the day the cool life-sized display mock-ups of the new X-wing and TIE-fighter make their debut to promote Ep VII: The Force Awakens?

 OK, it starts with a lunch set at Itacho, but so pretty and colourful!

 Happened to catch the 501st Legion standing by to make their grand entrance.

 New Republic base on the 3rd Terminal of Changi revealed!

 Poorly-disguised spies of The First Order "surreptitiously" photograph New Republic hardware.

 Rebel pilots being directed to the cafeteria

 Retro troopers defend an Imperial asset from curious citizens and pesky journalists

 Ever wanted to play whack-a-mole with a crowd of camera-wielding tourists?

Red-shirt recruits, yet to qualify for a personal blaster, have to make do with pew-pew fingers

Monday, September 14, 2015

A simple test for career assessment

Random thought of the day: how do you know if the job you are doing is the right one for you? Or if you're better off quitting the job you have? Or if the job you've been fired or retrenched from is one you cannot afford to lose?

Ask yourself if you would do the job for free. If you can't or won't, get the heck out. The logic is simple. If you can't even give it away, no one in their right mind would pay you for it.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Looking back at the results of GE2015

Woke up to clear white skies with just a tinier patch of blue than before. Against expectations, the incumbents took a larger share of the popular vote at GE2015 than earlier indications seemed to suggest. It looks like beyond the raucous rallies and the social media frenzy of support for 'alternative voices' in parliament, the sleeping giant of the silent majority only made a noise where it counted the most: at the polls.

Looking back at how this apparently out-of-the-blue support for the incumbents might have reached landslide proportions, we need to see what the electorate did NOT vote for:

Clearly, the electorate did not want the incumbents to lose its 2/3s majority in parliament. Given that all constituencies were once again being contested, voters took no chances and chose conservatively. Having said that, it is telling that the blues kept their strongholds while the other oppo parties were quite let down at the polls. It could be said that the blues did not fight to win big at this elections but rather strategized to not lose its major symbolic territories. Letting the other oppo parties become the distracting sideshows that they were actually made the blues look good in comparison, and keeping 6 elected seats in parliament is still better than losing them all. The voters win, the blues win, and the other oppo parties win because they still keep an 'alternative voice' in an otherwise all-white government, 'moving forward'.

Even before Nomination Day, the voters could see the infighting, dissent, tantrums and rage quits that showed the different oppo parties not quite getting their act together. If that was what the campaign was going to look like, the electorate could not stomach that lot in parliament where actual decisions are being made about real lives and real livelihoods over the next 5 years to come.

The biggest losers are the Independents because if no one wanted them to join a party... 'nuff said.

The party that was obviously running a poorly-disguised racist platform got few votes because the electorate had already left ethnically-based politics behind decades ago, knowing that a country divided along such lines will absolutely ruin what has gone right for this country for the last 50 years.

The party that promised to TAKE money out of voters' pockets and give it to the poor and needy elderly cardboard collectors union of Singapore found little support for its well-meaning humanitarian social-welfare platform.

The party that stood for Democracy over Action found out that the electorate, though relishing a good debate, is still fundamentally pragmatic and is swayed more by results than a dramatic chin-and-finger-wag.

The People's party found out that after all, only one Person ever mattered, and that without him, they had become the who-are-you party. Which was probably the same case for the remaining oppo parties which ran equally forgettable platforms and candidates.

What the electorate DID vote for was a calm, dignified, matter-of-fact, results-orientated tone of voice. Non-reactionary, non-sensational, ultimately boring and occasionally foot-in-mouth in presentation, perhaps overly-highly paid but at the same time has done nothing to damage the reputation; infrastructure; and standing, trustworthiness and respect of the country on the international stage.

In fact, GE2015 turned out to be little more than a municipal election in which all contesting parties, including the incumbent who went along and played the same game, were only vying for a town council seat. The electorate instead decided to vote for a Government -- the one that was already there in the first place.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The good ship, Singapore

One metaphor used in the #GE2015 campaign is the one that likens Singapore to a 'cruise ship'. The one who proposed it is deluded, and the one who opposes it is equally deluded -- and paranoid. Our little red dot has never been a cruise ship and will never survive as one, iceberg or no. The moment we start believing we are a cruise ship, everyone will want to be a first class passenger, no one wants to work any more. And given the rhetoric that's been passing for 'campaign speeches' on both sides, this belief is strongly setting in already.

Most of us have forgotten what we truly are: a pirate ship. All we have is what we have taken from others. Sure, we are nice pirates and we don't do bloodshed, but we own nothing but the planks we stand on and that's all that's shielding us from rough seas, bad weather and rival privateers, some of whom wield larger cannon and bloodthirstier warriors than those we seem to have on board.

No one in this campaign is talking about them. No, we are stuck with squabbling over how to cut the pie that we have into larger pieces for everyone. For now, it may look like a huge pie in it's totality, but if everyone wants a bigger share of it, we will find out how quickly it becomes a finite resource. Look, if we want more pie, the answer for our little pirate ship is to go plunder other people for what we need. That's all we have to go on.

And, no, on a pirate ship, there are no lifeboats, no safety nets, unlike a cruise ship. The reason why we've been confidently sailing the 7 seas for the last 50 years is because we knew our vulnerabilities and we've played by the rules of our constraints. We do have a few rubber rings, but more importantly, we have each other and we have each other's backs. At least, we did, until we started recognizing that some of our shipmates were starting to look and talk a little differently from ourselves. Then we were no longer 'we' any more, but 'us' and 'them'. And now it's getting to be more like 'me' vs everybody else.

A pirate ship does not become a cruise ship. We have all got to get back to being pirates. Everyone works, no passengers unless they are hostages held for ransom. Not happy with a pittance of a fixed wage? Take a risk. That's what the top-paid pirates are doing. Not happy with the income disparity? There's a way to get some of that money back for yourself. It's a free market, so sell a better product or provide a better service. Make other people say, 'please, take my money'. Plan your own raids, recruit your own crew, branch out and remember to pay your taxes (kept low to encourage entrepreneurship) when you make it big. But if you don't make it big, remember that it was a risk you took and it doesn't always pan out. Either settle; or learn, grow and try again. Can't stomach the risk of a raid, then don't complain about swabbing the deck. Your fixed salary will see you through, as long as you're careful with your expenses. That's the pirate's life.

More importantly, there are opportunities out there that we are missing. Those opportunities are what we should be talking about. We need to be planning adventures, expeditions into the unknown; seeking new resources and planting our flag everywhere. It's not like anyone died and has left us an inheritance to divvy up (although we are behaving a lot like that). Rather, we are building on the foundations laid down by our pioneers, building a stronger, better, faster, more nimble ship that will carry us into our pirating future. And as crew, we don't need the 'leadership' to tell us how to manage ourselves -- we take care of each other.

If the competing candidates now want to captain a cruise ship instead of a pirate ship, well, it's been a fantastic 50-year voyage. There are no lifeboats...

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Achievement unlocked

This is the team (well, most of it -- there were others helping out in many areas but who couldn't be in this pix) that fulfilled a long-standing ambition of mine. It took 14 years, but NYeDC has finally performed in a professional venue for a national youth theatre festival that isn't the SYF. Cast, crew, coach, all, were dedicated and driven; and strongly bonded through the experience. Good humour abounded in this production. One team member, in particular, received the appellation of 'comedy gold' for his off-stage comments during the feedback interview event. Theatre noobs, all, but thrown in this pressure cooker of juggling rehearsals and schoolwork over these few months, they've grown so much. This team knows what professional theatre is like, running five shows in four days, and it's not hard to tell that they love it. I'm so proud of them!

Last night's show marked the culmination of a peak I've been patiently scaling. My one (and only) career ambition is now fulfilled. I need a new destination that lies somewhere over the horizon. Today, I have the luxury of asking myself, 'where do I go from here?' The answer, I hope, will come to me soon.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Hiddenradio2 -- big sound from a tiny can

Another early arrival -- my set of 2 Hiddenradio2 Bluetooth speakers. Ordered from Kickstarter more than a year-and-a-half ago, it arrived unexpectedly on my doorstep this morning.

Unboxed and activated (right), it looks like a soft drink can. The bottom layer is the speaker proper, while the upper bit is the casing that slides up and down on a smooth touch-activated mechanism. In fact, there are no visible controls at all. Just touch the top surface for on-off; start-stop music track; or draw circles, clockwise for more volume anticlockwise for less. Right now, I've got a single speaker playing music on Spotify. The sound is beautifully crisp, no hiss, no fuzz; lyrics, instrumentation and percussion sharp and clearly reproduced -- though given its size, it's not bass-heavy. Maybe when the app is released on the respective app stores, there'll be a software equalizer to play with. Still, sound projection is omni-directional, which means it should do well outdoors, especially when paired with its twin for a stereo effect.

For the moment, though, I'm thinking of keeping one unit at home and taking the other to work. Yes, there are times I need an easily set up wireless speaker system while being hard at work. This device should fit the bill quite nicely!

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

It's timely

This box arrived at my doorstep even before I got the notification that it was on the way.

It's my new Pebble Time bluetooth watch and its magnetic charging cable. a couple of hours' charging, and I'm supposed to get a week's usage out of it. Let's see...

Not much to look at now, since it's fresh out of the box and I haven't activated it yet. It looks functional as it is. No fuss, just clean lines and an assurance that it... just works.

There! On the wrist and connected! A simple e-paper display in colour, and cutesy animations precede notifications of incoming activity from its paired smartphone. The design is slightly slimmer than its predecessor, the Pebble, and with a curved back it's a lot more comfortable to wear. The side buttons feel more robust and more satisfying to push as well. And that's just it for the physical construction. I have yet to explore the Pebble Time app that promises loads more watchfaces and other utility apps that will keep me busy and distracted for a while.

The Pebble Time's arrival was also particularly timely as the old Pebble's e-paper display is starting to bleed, causing the graphic images to smear badly. So, time for a change, I say!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Rising above merit

Meritocracy is a great idea to build a society around. It upholds the ideal of equal opportunity for everyone, regardless of social background; ethnicity; creed; or any other impediment that might hold an individual back from doing better in life. Our country is built on the idea of Meritocracy. Those who prove they can, deserve the biggest rewards is what we believe. Unfortunately for us, that's not how Meritocracy works. I'm not saying that our version of Meritocracy doesn't work, I'm saying that the mechanic of a meritocracy in general does not work the way we think (or wish) it would work.

The central tenet behind Meritocracy is "the best man (or woman) for the job". True. Whomever has the ability will also have a job. But no one said the job had to pay well. Meritocracy works fine in determining an individual's starting point. The transition between schooling and getting employed is certainly determined by the merit of one's academic qualifications, no question there. Entry-level requirements and starting pay can be said to follow along a merit-based scale. So it's no lie to tell the kids to study hard to get a good [entry-level] job.

But once in a job, merit is acquired by meeting job requirements, and sometimes taking up higher education is part and parcel of those job requirements at higher levels. So far, that's what we do understand of how Meritocracy works. What we haven't quite grasped yet is that being competent in one's job is not commensurate with the expected rewards that go with it. So when we berate our overwhelmingly well-paid top policy-makers for not being competent at solving the problems they are being paid to solve, what we fail to comprehend is that they are not actually being paid to solve those problems.

Let's talk about 'competence' first. Being competent means to do one's job well. It's a matter of training, a little aptitude, and a whole lot of experience in order to be competent at one's job. The longer one stays in a job, therefore, the more likely one will become increasingly competent in it. This is especially true if the job is a safe, normal job that many other people are doing and thus it is easy to benchmark one's 'competence' against an industry average. If the job we are competent in is a job many other people are also doing, that's a job that isn't likely to be well-paid because everybody's doing the same thing.

So how do some "lucky" people wind up with the jobs we know are better paying? The better paying jobs are the ones that have few common equivalents. These are the jobs that shoulder huge risks, or are so incredibly difficult that no one knows how to do them properly -- or what 'properly' even means in this context. At these levels, people are rewarded, not because they are competent but because they are willing to take on those risks. We're talking about the risk of epic failure; of losing big and committing career suicide; of facing daily public ridicule and disparagement; of losing fortunes, family reputations and possibly their personal freedom if their failure is somehow interpreted as a criminal act; of letting down lots of people who depend on their continued success (which no one has guaranteed). In short, these people are not being paid for being competent, but for their gumption and audacity to take on these risks which we ordinary folk would never dare to even consider.

Ironically, while the top paying jobs are the jobs we prefer not to do, the least paying jobs are also jobs we would rather not do. The "sandwich class" is stuck being competent in our little fish-bowl world.

It's easy to be competent swimming in a little fish bowl, not so if we choose to swim in the ocean. There is potential for much reward out there in the ocean, but it's safer in our fish bowl where we get three square meals a day -- that's it. Maybe we are so competent we can actually solve those big problems we complain about every day, but unless we are willing to take that plunge from frying-pan into fire, don't count on those well-paid people to solve them for us. It really isn't their job to do so.

In short, the way to the best rewards in a Meritocracy is to say "yes, I'll do it!" and take responsibility in situations we have absolutely no experience in; to tackle problems no one (not even ourselves) knows how to solve; and to basically make people believe the impossible can happen. If we don't get it right, or if we screw up, say we are learning from our mistakes and we'll do better next time. It's either that or face the consequences and die.

The Meritocracy our society is today was envisioned by our late former PM, Mr Lee. We are fortunate that when he stepped up to the plate, he faced the impossible and made it happen. Although we paid him well for his efforts, we all firmly believe that he didn't do it for the money. His life was exemplary -- someone who made huge waves abroad, yet kept a humble, frugal, incorruptible personal life at home. He did what he had to because he believed in us. He fought for us; played hard-ball for us; he WAS us to the end.

With his passing, the mantle has firmly fallen on us, the next generation to continue where the previous generation has left us. Now we will we find out if our generation is made of the quality of steel he and his generation were made of. Will we discover that the meritocratic state that hems us in and determines how we are to live does not actually define us? Like him, can we rise above Merit and just do what needs to be done, do whatever it takes because the bigger picture means more to us than our individual whims and fancies? I don't know, but I will say that Mr Lee was an extraordinary gentleman, and  -- I hope -- the likes of whom we will see again in this present generation.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

An appeal for normalcy

No, the education system does not need a major overhaul. What does need an overhaul is the mindset that anything less than an 'A' grade is an Asian fail. This mindset is killing everyone: kids; parents; teachers and so on up the food chain.

It is an unrealistic expectation of what it means to be 'normal'. In statistics, what we understand as 'normal' bunches up in the middle, tapering off at both extremes. When we take extreme position 'A' to be 'normal', the whole distribution shifts to compensate when the frequency of 'A' does indeed increase because now, 'A' has become too frequent to be 'normal'.

Many factors could account for the shift towards more kids scoring'A's. The biggest factor is probably the availability of after-school tuition. But while it does give a boost to the individual kid, the system suffers because too many kids sacrifice too much time on developing themselves into what they (and their parents) think is academically 'normal', and not enough time on developing their other facets that will make them well-adjusted, really normal people. And in the meantime, their collective academic achievement turns up the pressure on the next cohort to do just as well if not better, because if your older sibling could do it, why can't you? But the fact is, yesterday's goalpost has shifted further and smaller because too many goals were being scored, making the game unbalanced and unrealistic.

Some people see this continual raising of standards as 'progress', but in fact, just because more kids are acing their exams doesn't mean they have learned anything apart from how to score in their exams. Exams, after all, are games with rules, and once we understand the game of exams, we learn how to game the exam. Everyone out there in the marketplace, and frequently in the schools themselves, offers tips and tricks; methods and strategies; and game-breaking techniques that with enough drilling and when applied properly are likely to score the aspiring student the sought-after 'A' without needing to understand the subject even at the foundational level. And because the end result is an 'A', no one questions if any real learning has taken place or not.

The way back to sanity is to regain our respect for the 'C' grade and to stop disincentivizing failure. Once we allow our kids to bunch up at 'C', it does not mean we are settling for mediocrity, but rather we are accepting normal for what is realistic, and therefore putting an end to academic curriculum escalation. Exams can carry on as they have for centuries and still continue to deliver what they have been always supposed to deliver: providing a hypothetical controlled environment in which a student puts into practice what he has learned in order to demonstrate mastery of the subject being tested and to receive correlated feedback therein. If there's any competition in the system, it is against one's previous efforts and not against a fellow learner. Accepting a 'C' grade tells the student that there is more to achieve, a further step to take. There is forward movement when you dangle a carrot in front of a donkey, and none when the carrot is already in its mouth.

The main concern we have today is how to tell if an 'A' grade a student has scored is the result of real learning or just from gaming the exam. A simple rule of thumb is to ask how the student acquired the knowledge. If it was acquired without question, it was probably taken as doctrine, memorized, rehearsed, rehashed, and learned for the sake of the examination. If the student questioned the material (you can always check the quality of questioning); failed it often and showed slight increments in progress over time (big jumps do happen, but they are rare), most likely we are looking at a student who really does know his stuff.

Because questions are such a big part of the learning process, we teachers, too, have to be mindful that in our eagerness to teach, we do not anticipate questions and provide answers before the kids ask them. One sure-fire way to kill curiosity is to over-inform -- which we tend to do a lot -- and take the mystery out of life, leaving them jaded and think they already know-it-all at such a young age. And also to not shoot down questions, assuming the kids haven't been listening (whomever can listen and get it right the first time?) when we have a curriculum to cover.

Exams are necessary to school-based instruction, but they need to be taken in the right spirit. The overhaul being asked for is for us all to put exams back in their proper place. To hold exam results as a predeterminant of human lives and their future is asking a little much from a measly scrap of paper that gets replaced by another over time in a person's life.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Wo men de Drama Malam

Lots of things were different about this year's NYeDC show. It was a single matinee performance, held on the first day of the March hols. It was also a combined effort with the Malay and Chinese cultural groups, so in all we put up a total of four relatively short plays in three languages.

It made a lot of sense for a triple joint-venture. Dwindling resources means pooling whatever we can afford together for a single show rather than risk three separate, patchy ones. We also significantly reduced our competition to attract the same audience and make them pay separately for each. Usually, by the latest performance in the calendar, audience fatigue would set in and the last show is also usually the least attended. Today, we all got to perform to a full house, and that was very satisfying, indeed.

NYeDC's item was "Staying Alive!" by Haresh Sharma. It explores the reasons why people entertain suicidal thoughts and builds up to a happy resolution in which the characters find their motivation to stay alive. Despite its morbid undertones, the play has its light, comedic moments and isn't too heavy on moralizing and preachiness. Yup, sounds like NYeDC's style.

The Malay and Chinese groups were equally hard at work these last two weeks getting the publicity and ticket-selling going, while putting in a lot of rehearsal time as well. I will commend highly the Audio-Visual team who was always there, first to arrive, last to leave, making sure sound, lights, curtain, screen, projector worked their magic.

Given our new realities, we knew production this year was going to be tough, but though it wasn't always smooth-sailing, our three groups worked surprisingly well together. NYeDC still have our own big event coming up later this year, but could combined performances be the way forward for us? Guess we'll find out after our post-mortem.

Anyway, here's our happy ending for the family that wants (or rather, DOESN'T want) to kill itself. Glad it all worked out well for them in the end!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New rims

Rather than focus on what could have happened when I got a punctured tire on the road, I'll concentrate on what did happen.

When M2 began limping, I knew exactly which tire had gone flat because I'd felt the same thing happen before. Fortunately, the nearest service station was just on the other side of the road. I made a careful u-turn, got myself parked and waited for opening time. Meanwhile, I went back across the road for prata and grading papers.

When the mech arrived, he said he didn't have tires my size. So he directed me to limp down to the next tire shop down the road.

Long story short, the tire shop convinced me to trade in all four of my existing rims for new and lighter RSW Racing rims and Bridgestone tires for a special festive season discount price of only $750 (normal price $1k). They gave me a choice of silver or black rims. I chose silver, they said 'silver no stock' so they gave me black instead. Black works with M2's body paint, so no regrets there.

They also threw in the special socket tool to remove the hub nuts, gratis.

I'm kinda' sad to lose my stock 17" rims, but the RSWs actually feel lighter and does improve acceleration by a bit. Cool.

I suppose it could have been avoided, but I'm short of cash again this month due to today's expense. But considering my existing tires were kinda' old already, I guess it was better to change them sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What's Tsupp?

After a 2-year hiatus, The Supplementary Paper (a.k.a. Tsupp) is making another go at publishing student reviews of what's new in the worlds of whatever they're indulging in outside of schoolwork.

Our current roster allows us to publish one story every weekday, as long as the contributors' interest holds up. *fingers crossed

Be nice, click on the link and give the kids some encouragement, 'k? Thanks!

Friday, February 06, 2015

Excuses, excuses

I wonder if my excuse would be considered 'valid' if I were a kid and had to explain why I was late for school this morning?

Y'see, Sir... just as I was leaving my house, I stopped to say 'goodbye' to my cat who was sitting at the door. I bent over double to pat his head, but he took the opportunity to jump on my back, proceeding to settle himself down by kneading my tailbone area, a feline activity sometimes referred to as 'making biscuits'.

As I was working out how to get him off without startling him and consequently getting stabbed in the back with his claws, my other cat approached for his morning head-rub. So there I was, one cat nicely settled on my back and the other around my ankles soliciting tactile attention. If you can picture it, I am in quite an undignified position, like Liang Po Po being mobbed by a couple of furry, over-familiar autograph hunters.

Suddenly, from behind me, there was a gurgle and a splat. The cat on my back had upchucked his breakfast -- right onto my shirt and pants. Some had got under my waistband and was trickling down my butt-crack too.

That called for an equally Liang Po Po-like hobble -- claws be damned --to the bathroom to seek human assistance in cleaning up areas of my person beyond the normal reach of my own arms. Then a quick shower and a change of clothes before returning to clean up the mess remaining on the floor at ground zero. And only after that, could I leave for school.

And that is why I was late today.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Pioneer Generation

It's good we can recognise our 'pioneer generation' with some kind of tangible tribute. What the old folks went through, and what they had to be prepared to do to put us where we are today was no mean feat. They deserve what we taxpayers are awarding to them, all $8 billion of it, so that they can have a better life in their twilight years.

What I worry about is that we start thinking of that generation as the only pioneer generation. That today, because of their efforts and their sacrifices, we have it made. We haven't. Every generation has its share of struggles, and especially for our little island, every generation is its own pioneer generation.

The generation we hail as 'Pioneer' is the generation of immigrants that made our multi-ethnic, multi-cultural fabric work. They created a sense of belonging by embracing and cooperating with each other. It was a sense that they, regardless of ethnicity, background, or opportunity belonged to the place.

If we really want to honour our 'Pioneer Generation', the money is good -- but it's more important that we don't undo the good they did by turning it around and start acting like the place now belongs to us.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Singaporean dream

According to the kids, the Singaporean dream goes like, study hard; score straight As; land a good job; make lots of money; and you'll never have to work another day in your life. Obviously, there's some screwed-up logic going on in the conclusion, But they believe it -- it's the lie we tell them. 'Cos as far as schools go, we're only interested in the part up to the 'score straight As' bit. Mission accomplished!

Now, I wonder where their sense of entitlement comes from?

(Links available for a limited time only)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The power of 'give'

The ideal motivator for work is to be in a situation in which we are able to give and keep on giving. We give our time; attention; compassion; or whatever else we have in so much abundance of, that the only thing to do with it is to give it away. It also helps that we strongly believe that what we have to give is what others lack but really have to have, no exceptions.

Everyone has the ability to tap into this abundance, each in their own way. To identify what we have that there is overflowing abundance of, just look for what we love most to do. It's the one thing we want to do to the exclusion of every other activity. That which we do or exercise most often is the thing we become best at. We would even continue to do that even if we weren't paid for it. Thing is, when we work hard at something enough to get really good at it, people will pay us just because we are that good.

Being employed, however, is a 'take' scenario. We do our job because we want to take our salary. Employers take our time and effort, and anything else they can squeeze from us because they damn well can because they paid for it. In a 'take' situation, everyone in the relationship runs dry pretty quickly because they are taking what no one is prepared to give without getting something back in return. As such, everybody gives only the minimum effort possible commensurate with the minimal wage one is given.

Because we put down our tools as quickly as we possibly can and go find something else we would rather be doing (which is clearly not the thing we are being paid to do), no one stretches, grows, develops or becomes good at their job. We hit a plateau, our career stalls and our employer starts to consider other options that may prove more value for money -- a machine, perhaps; or a hungry, young foreigner willing to give a little more.

So the best job to have is the one in which we are prepared to give without expectation of return. Not of the money sort, anyway. The return we should expect to get is the learning through daily experience, making us better at our jobs than we were the day before. I'm not saying that slaves have the best job in the world because for them it is all take and no give. I'm saying that if we can see ourselves doing it better and better every day, this is the job we were meant to do, salary notwithstanding.

... I've always dreamed of driving a delivery truck across country. I think I could get real good at that.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Corrective lenses

Wearing progressive lenses for the first time. It's gonna take quite some getting used to. Looking right down the middle, vision is sharp and clear as a bell. Being able to read text just by shifting the gaze down slightly is certainly more convenient than having to adjust my normal lenses for the correct focal length, or removing them altogether so I can read whatever is pressing up against my face.

However, to compensate for some amazingly high myopia, even with expensively high index glass, the lenses are super thick, making peripheral vision totally crap. With these babies on, I can categorically confirm that the world is curved around the edges. And if I happen to turn up my nose at you, it's not like I don't respect you. I'm just trying to read what's printed on your t-shirt.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dance is only physics

One general piece of advice for all the dancers in today's performance: the more you push in the opposite direction, the further you'll reach in the desired direction. Otherwise, they were lovely.

Thursday, January 08, 2015


Striving very hard to be firm but fair, keeping emotion in check so that logic can identify problems before they occur, and opportunities where there are problems.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015


Once again, the feeling has returned. The one in which expectations on you are so high that only perfection is satisfactory, but you are only capable of delivering not nearly good enough.

Thankfully, there are people around who will share the load. The whole show isn't resting on your overburdened shoulders alone. If it feels like it does, however, that's your own ego talking.