Tuesday, 17 November 2015

It's not the end of the year yet, but if I have to define 2015 by one word only, I would be quite torn equally between "change" and "friendship". Since this is my blog and this is my opinion, I'm not going to try and force myself to choose! You get both definitions, whether you like it or not haha.

"Change" because there really are too many changes in my life since the start of this year! I went to another church for 6~9 months; I resigned from my previous employment and started a new one; I am now in another Salvation Army corps after spending all my life in my previous; I took up part-time graduate studies; I felt bold enough to travel alone for a week in Sydney! They are significant because I would have never thought myself in such positions at the start of this year, and these are seasons that I've never found myself in before. It honestly felt as though I am constantly in transition every two months or so, and I cannot even say with certainty if things will continue next year as they are now!

"Friendship" is somewhat more contentious, mostly because I do not think of myself as a very good friend to have. I've always thought myself as rather individualistic, and I have no hesitation to do stuff by myself where others might do with a group of friends. But this year I'm privileged to have people in my life who didn't mind me being in their lives, and for some of whom I was actually able to find solace and comfort in. And I'm always of the opinion that the older I get, the less interested I am to keep friends around me because it takes dedication and commitment to keep friendships. Strangely, I find myself making the effort to keep people in my life, rather than reject all social engagement as I always do.

In related news, I've sprained my right ankle under very strange and mysterious circumstances. It's too embarrassing to tell how it happened, but my ankle is swollen to an unusual size that I'm not at all accustomed to. I have no choice but to resort to slow hobbling as my main mode of getting around, and I've never been more thankful of my (dis)ability and my (im)mobility to enjoy the world at a slower pace.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Part 2 as promised, except that this is a little bit too late than what was promised! I think after you decide why you want to date, the only logical step to do next is to decide who you want to date. This is where I think it gets a bit stereotypical, because I tend to think that all those people who only claim that "inward beauty of the character and the heart are the only things that count" are just plainly lying! Obviously physical attraction does play quite a large part in drawing you toward that person that you like, and I do not think it is superficial to admit physical attraction. 

I cannot speak of the same for everyone, but I believe that each person who wants to date for marriage are looking for certain values or qualities within the other person, so that they know they are like-minded on certain aspects of their lives. These include views on family, friends, faith, food, fishes (I'm pushing the limits on words beginning with F), and it is important that they see eye-to-eye on these values, or at the very least are able to compromise. 

Naturally, if you are not able to accept differences, there is the deal-breaker list! These are the things that you cannot tolerate, or the boundaries that you set for yourself so that you do not end up in certain crossfires. Mine is quite a long list of things including clingy, naggy, overly-idealistic people, and duck haters. I don't think I can date a duck hater. And I actually think that the deal-breaker list is important, so that you do not water down or devalue the standards that you've set for yourself to uphold and upkeep to. 

More importantly, I think it's a bigger question of trying to ascertain who deserves your time and energy, and how much do you invest into trying to love someone. For myself again, my past relationships have taught me to not rush straight into a relationship. It is actually important for me to know a person as a genuine friend first before being serious about dating. Also, I think it's very important to have fun while dating! Yes at this point in my life now, it would be good if the person I am dating now eventually becomes my spouse, but it will not be very right for me to look at every date as a potential marriage partner, just because marriage is not a be-all end-all.

But then again dating (assuming that that is the stage before a relationship) is so nebulous and gray! Love requires too high a commitment for me to undertake, and it must be a choice that I have to constantly remind myself that this is the person that I am choosing to commit to! Which is why I feel like I am grappling with age-old questions of "what is love" and "how do you know when you're in love" and "what are you looking for to love" and "who deserves your love"! 

Perhaps the best piece of advice that someone has given me is to remind myself that I am too full of life to be half-loved. It is more of a reminder to myself to never find myself in half-loved situations, both in the giving and in the receiving! I try my best to be undivided and to give in my best effort while dating someone, so that I do not shortchange myself and the other person too. But then again, I am possibly too naive in that aspect because I try to see the strengths of every person I meet, so I just think the best of everyone I date too! Okay this just sounds like I fall in love with everyone I date, but I assure you I am level-headed. 

It may sound self-centered, but getting out on dates actually helped me to learn more about myself as a person. Of course it is about getting to know the other person too, but I always reason with myself that if I cannot even accept myself, then how can I go ahead and attempt to accept another person! It is always important for me to see value and worth in my own esteem, before I can head out and try and love someone. That to me was revelatory, because so often people head into it trying to love someone before loving themselves.

This post may have came out quite garbled because I'm rather tired. We will see if there is a part 3, or if I just move on to another topic. 

Friday, 6 November 2015

This post is about dating! Specifically, my views on dating and relationships and marriage. If you're only remotely acquainted with me, I'd have you know that I have been single for most of this year. My last relationship was last year, and while I am upset it ended, I think I've allowed a lot of room for myself to rest all the skeletons and ghosts before I moved on. The disclaimer is that if you are looking for saucy gossip, I will not be divulging any, because they are not my stories to tell alone. And the claimer that accompanies the disclaimer, is that I have been out and about trying my hand at dating too. Which leads to my thoughts and opinions on this great mystical topic.

I know that for some people, singlehood is uttered with a breath of abhorrence, and marriage is everything that they strive for in their lives. So naturally, these same people think that my breakup was some form of life stage suicide, because I turn 27 in a few week's time and a lot of my peers are already in happy marriages and are even having babies! But societal pressures aside, I do not think that the need to settle down should mean that I must get into a relationship and I must be married by a certain age. Yes I do want to get married, but I could see myself otherwise too.

Which is why I think it is very important to question the fundamental beliefs of what you see yourself doing in your life, and why do you even want to date in the first place. My views and observations (and not berating people who think contrary) are that it is not quite enough for me if I just say that I am dating this person for companionship and romantic feelings and eventual marriage. Yes they are perfectly legitimate reasons, but I do not think that my life is defined by my marriage! Getting into a relationship and wanting to get married are not be-all-end-all panacea to all of life situations, and if I am approaching it from that vantage, that it is a great disservice to the person that I end up marrying with. In fact, marriage is the beginning of a new set of problems and challenges. If I had only wanted to get married on grounds of companionship and feelings, I highly doubt that I will be in it for the long haul. 

I have been asking myself a lot of "what's next" questions. Like, new job, what's next? Get into a relationship, what's next? Get married, what's next? Have a house and have kids, what's next? Every life stage that I ask of myself, it seems like a slow meaningless crawl toward decrepit old age and death. The only reconciliation that I have for myself is that my life must matter for something. There has to be some form of legacy or stuff left behind for posterity that will allow me to die without regrets. Morbid topics, I know, but I want to be able to be on my deathbed and say confidently that my life was lived well and spent well. Like, I've written a book, that was a thing! I've helped so and so, that was a thing! My marriage and my kids, that was a thing! 

Alongside that comes my faith and my beliefs. I firmly think that my life must somehow matter for Christ. That if I leave nothing behind, people are able to see Jesus through my life and come to a greater appreciation of how Jesus worked in my life. Hence this is my conclusion, that my relationships and my marriage in my earthly life must somehow matter for Jesus. There's not much point if I am just seeking my own conveniences like temporal feelings of love and companionship wantings, and there's not much purpose too if I'm getting married and having a family just to fill a void in my life. Ultimately, my perspectives must align with what is eternal. 

Okay I am tired of writing. There will be a part 2 for this, maybe tonight or tomorrow or something. 

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

I am trying to give myself week-long challenges for the rest of this year, for the purposes of self-betterment and to improve myself as a person. My chosen areas to work on were empathy and compassion last week. Not that I'm lacking in those areas, but it was more of I wanted to be a lot more intentional about it. I'd like to think that I am sufficiently sympathetic to other people's plights in general, because I've always been easily moved by people less-privileged than I am, and I care deeply about social justice. Of course they have to be people that I somewhat know on a personal note, and I think my sympathy levels are raised when these stories hit closer to home, so it's not just from reading about any tragic accident and sob story from tabloid news! 

Perhaps very conveniently, the fact that I am currently working in the social work industry means that there has to be some wanting to care for others that needs to be found within me. I've been involved with youth ministries for over ten years now, and I have unavoidably came across many less-privileged youths in my courses of work. I've also realized for myself that what I previously mistook of myself as high levels of empathy, they were in fact merely sympathy for others. Footnote here, I know that being empathetic is almost always construed as more preferred than being sympathetic, but to achieve empathy, you first have to have sympathy! So it was through casework that I found out that I haven't quite crossed that line to really put myself in someone else's shoes. 

My week of empathy and compassion was quite fruitful. We had air-con installation works at our youth centre, and I bought lunch for the contractors who came down to fix everything. Food is always non-intimidating, and through that I had very good conversations with the contractors. They were probably cautious to speak with me, because I am after all the one "paying" for their services, but I found that it had a lot to do with regarding each of them as unique individuals with different walks of life, and trying to understand their perspectives from their values. 

I also tried to give money to all the buskers and beggars and people selling tissues. They are always some of these people on my way home, but it is almost a second nature for me to ignore them. I offered to get dinner for one of the beggars near my work place, but he rejected it. I tried to pray for some of my friends and family and really forced myself to put me in their situations. That did make prayer a lot more effective! 

And I will end with a recount of something significant that happened in the last two weeks that challenged me greatly and pushed my sensibilities way out of my comfort zone. At 1am into the night, I answered a distress call from one of my Twitter friends (but have never met before in real life) because she was having a panic attack. I went over to her house to try to be of some form of comfort and reassurance, and when I was properly home it was close to 5am. What made it more uncomfortable for me was that she was practically a stranger to me, and I've never so much as gone over to a woman's house in the middle of the night for fear of misunderstandings. My reconciliation of my thoughts were that what I did had some value, but I truly do not know if I would ever do it so recklessly again. 

For this week I am taking time to be in the moment and to revel in the little things of life! This should set up nicely for the next post. 

Monday, 2 November 2015

It's pretty obvious that I've abandoned this writing space and that I only take to blogging an odd post every 11 months or so, but I'll have you know that I have been trying to journal more privately since the beginning of this year. In the past this online space served as my repository of thoughts, and for a good many years too! And why a return to this space now? I guess I was thinking along the lines of making my thoughts more public so that people can hold me accountable to what I express here. Although, to be fair, I am pretty sure I am writing to an audience of one (myself), and I doubt I will widely publicize this fact that I have returned!!! So if for some strange reason you've snuck around this blog from time to time even though there are no updates, the very lucky you will now get access to some of my thoughts, though sadly not unbridled because of the very public nature of anything on the internet. I promise to commit and dedicate some content here, at least for the next few weeks! But it will likely at some point peter off and lose its regularity, because I think I am rather lukewarm about this revival.

Whatever that will be written here will likely be an extension of what I've already written in my journals. But since my journals are more private in nature, you are extremely unlikely to read those, although I have written them for posterity's sake, so in the event that I die tomorrow, someone please unearth my notebooks and pour through my ruminations. For the record, the various notebooks I've kept served different functions. There's one just for poetry quotes from anthologies and collections that I've read, of which I'm half contemplating to turn into an actual Guan You-authored poetry journal. There's another one for notes from online sermons which I'm watching, mostly from Hillsong Church or Louie Giglio or Steven Furtick. I have several daily devotional journals from Covenant Evangelical Free Church, because I have been attending their church for a good half of this year. And I have one last main journal that I write my deepest and darkest secrets in, and this is the one that will provide inspiration for most of these blog posts here to come!

Forcing myself to write something has always helped me to bring clarity to my thoughts and feelings. The process of writing necessarily involves organization of content, unless I choose to write stream of consciousness style, in which case I wouldn't know why anyone would bother with my lucid insanity. Clearly, I've had cause for some stuff in my life to be devoted serious thought, so you're definitely welcomed to comment and advise accordingly! However, that would mean you have to plough through my verbosity, because mincing on wordy expositions has never been my strong point. I am very naggy, you have been warned.

I don't even know why would anyone care to read this anyway. My thoughts are not that important and they definitely hold little life-changing value. But if you were lurking and you made it this far, please holler your existence and let me know you're still here! Hopefully you know me in real life, although I am always up for interaction with strangers.

I hope you are as excited as I am looking forward to the blog posts that I will publish here within the next few weeks! 

Monday, 22 December 2014

I kinda left this blog for dead more than a year ago, and I think it might actually be good for me to revive it at this juncture of my life now. The reason why I persisted in blogging is because it actually helps me to structure my thoughts somewhat. The process of writing actually forces me to compartmentalize and rationalize my emotions. 

It has been more than a year since I first started work, and perhaps a year and a half more since I graduated from university. There were some talks here and there after I graduated about working in Ipoh for a Salvation Army children's home, but it did not come to fruition and I was honestly left bereft of focus in the church for a while. I took up work in New Life Community Services, am in the youth services department running programmes like guitar and leadership and magic courses, as well as spending most of my afternoons in the youth centres playing Xbox and PS3 games. Oh there's a pool table and a table tennis table too. 

It actually does not feel like work, because in some sense it was really easy for me to walk into office thinking that it is an extension of whatever that I am doing in my youth group at church. It only made sense that I am working in a youth-related industry, because it was something I was really gifted in and there was an undeniable calling to God's cause. I enjoyed the intentionality of the community work that I was in at my workplace. Back at church, I continued to lead my Sec 1 and 2 (and now 3 too) cell group. There was more of a focus in my church youth work to delegate and hand over and relinquish now, because I am too much of an oldie and also because there were upcoming leaders who were much more capable than me. I approximate 70% of my waking moments to be spent among the presence of youths, either at church or at school. 

Within the past few months, however, I had to seriously ask myself what was in it for me after I step down from church leadership at the end of this year. I think I might have taken for granted the leadership opportunities that were accorded to me, because I quite literally walked my way into practically any leadership team there was in church. It was something that I may have excelled in, and it was something that I honestly find very easy to do. But with hand over transitions, it comes with letting down your pride and surrendering the things that you have been passionately fighting for for the past 12 years. So many things that I hold dear once to me, I had to give up and give way and give in.

It is with regret that I have decided I will be going to another church for half a year or so, and I may likely change church after this break. It is not easy to come to this decision, because Salvation Army has been my home church since I was 8 years old, and it has been a formative part of my process of growth to the person I am now at age 26. It is also with regret that I have ended my 4-year-plus relationship with my girlfriend. It is also not easy to come to this decision too, because I don't know how you can spend 4 years of your life with someone special and then walk away from it as if nothing has happened. 

Amidst all the transition work that will be taking place in my life, especially as this year draws to an impending close, I am grateful for God for just being God in my life, that I can count my identity secure in Him and that He is the one that never changes. I am grateful for friends and mentors whom I rely on for support in this difficult journey where the hyper self-consciousness me comes into play and messes things up in my life. I am also grateful that I gatecrashed church youth camp for the past two days, and I'm seeing prayer and support and leadership at a level that I have never seen before. I am so accustomed to being the one preaching or leading or directing or getting down on my knees and interceding and praying for others, but last evening was a conscious choice for me to not be involved. And it is also probably the surest indication to me that the youth ministry that I am leaving behind is in good hands. 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Something that has been bugging me a lot in recent months is how all my guitars and all the related equipment have been making a lot of noise! When I run it through the auditorium main speakers and through the amps, I'm getting a lot of ground loop hums and low-frequency buzzes and feedback noises. It's a terrible shame, because in my opinion everything sounds really great, but when I'm not actually playing, all these noises become dramatically amplified because it's so annoying and it drones into you. 

And for the longest time too, Matthew has been bugging me just as much as the hums and buzzes have been bugging me! He keeps nagging to get me to change my power sources or to go do something about my guitar pick-ups. I'm powering my guitar pedals daisy-chain style, which may or may not be the cause of the hums haha I am quite adamant that a daisy-chain is more than sufficient and I don't need one of those expensive power bricks or isolated power sources. And of course, I know that there is a known issue with my acoustic guitar pick-up, simply because it is not grounded. I did try okay, I did go down to guitar shops and I read some online help articles to explore my options, but I didn't manage to get very far and I never got down to grounding any of my pick-ups or power sources or pedals. Don't know how to, and don't know any technicians that said they knew any solutions either. 

Well okay I just bought a MXR Smartgate to deal with all these annoyances, Matthew included! So how this device works is that it functions as a volume limiter to eliminate unwanted noise. More than that, it is a gate because it allows my guitar signals to go through when I am playing, and it clamps up to disallow the hums and buzzes to NOT go through when I'm not playing. So there is this knob which allows me to establish the threshold level at which the gate will kick in, essentially allowing me to set the volumes at which the gate will allow my guitar signal to go through. Haha isn't it cool! I always thought that these noise suppressing pedals only come in the form of attenuation pedals, which just blanket cuts all noise (regardless of guitar signal or not) by 10 or 20 dB, or something like that. But a noise gate, and a "smart" one at that, is ingenious. And I have to say that it works pretty great for all my gear! It has various noise clipping options, but I found out that only the "high" option is useful in terms of noise reduction. Still, it is a marvel in terms of how all those annoying noises previously are now magically cut!  

Normally when it comes to electronics, I'm not a person to go get another piece of equipment in order to solve a problem, if you get where I'm going with this. Like, if I have a shaky table, I will look into the carpentry of my table rather than go and buy a new table or go and get carpet or rugs for the table to sit on; or if I have a software issue with the webcam on my laptop, I won't go and buy a separate webcam just to solve the problem. I want to fix the problem by dealing with the source or the software, and not try to get another additional equipment to cover up the flaws. So for the longest time I stayed away from getting a noise suppression pedal precisely because of this reason, but it seems like this Smartgate is going to be indispensable. Still can't deal with the grounding problems in my pick-ups and power sources, but I like the idea that Smartgate is so smart.

And I desperately wish that there's some Smartgate for my life too! I want to be able to tune out all the garbage that I'm receiving from the world sometimes. Hahaha that would be great isn't it?? Imagine being able to tune out nasty criticisms and nonsensical feedback, and you only hear the good stuff. Okay this may be a bit self-centered. Or maybe I want to tune out the needless information that I read on the internet. I read a lot a lot a lot of articles and long essays and reports online, and half the time I wish that it came highlighted or something, so that I get the gist of the information in as little time as possible and don't have to plow through unnecessary junk. Just the other day I was reading this short write-up about how you don't have to read everything, which is rather ironic if you ask me because I have to first read this write-up before I can choose not to read everything! But hey, if there's a Smartgate for my life, all I have to do is to set it on a particular threshold, and it just filters the relevant stuff. Imperative tool for studying. 

Here it goes. Meanwhile, I'll keep on the lookout for a Smartgate for my life.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Okay this is related to guitars. I've got a Taylor acoustic and a Duesenberg electric guitar, but I'm having problems because both guitars have different neck scale lengths and I don't quite know which one I'm supposed to be practicing with! Alright this may be quite facetious to you if you don't care so much about guitars, but it matters to me! I will try to simplify this as best as I can.

The Taylor acoustic that I have is smaller most normal-sized guitars. Hence, the guitar neck is correspondingly narrower because its scale length is 23 1/2", well shorter than the average guitar of about 25" thereabouts. And it's superbly great because this is what makes it such a nice guitar to play with, cos I seldom have to do crazy finger stretching on the strings, and it is generally easier on my hands. The Duesenberg, however, has got a much longer and wider neck of scale length 25 3/5", and the frets are jumbo frets. Which just means that the frets are more spaced apart from each other, so the Duesenberg is more of a stretch than the Taylor. Which also meant that the Taylor spends more playing time with me haha.

Now that won't be a problem if I'm just practicing for an acoustic guitar set-up, but the problem arises when I have to play electric guitar! Because I'm so used to the Taylor 23 1/2" scale length, I am completely out of sorts with the Duesenberg 25 3/5" and I cannot adapt fast enough to the sudden jump in longer fret distances and finger stretching! And if you know guitars and their characteristics, the frets are never evenly spaced on any guitar; instead it bunches up more and more closer the higher up the neck you go. That's where the scale length comes in and wrecks havoc on my playing, especially on the Duesenberg! What was previously 3 frets spacing on the Taylor can be as little as 2 frets spacing on the Duesenberg especially on the higher registers, which means more stretching and a need to get used to my fingers allocation for all the frets.

And the problem works both ways. Once I start getting used to the longer scale length, it takes quite a while to get used to the shorter one. They say that most guitarists who play a lot of electric tend to get very heavy-handed and somehow become a lot slower when they play on the acoustic guitar instead, but for me I started out playing acoustic for years, so the hard-handed treatment got me flying on the electric! It is much easier to play on the electric cos the strings are "softer", so I can happily slide and bend and move faster generally. But the differences in scale length will have me at my throat, really.

(I should have included pictures, but nah lazy to put my guitars to the pose and snap)

Saturday, 30 March 2013

I think my annual Good Friday and Easter celebrations seem to be trying to top each other every year. A few years back Youth Dept dedicated one SAY (youth) service especially for Good Fri, and every year ever since we have been having annual Good Fri services with small-scale dance or drama productions, and all the super high energy worship sessions and phenomenal preaching. I count it my privilege to be involved in some of them, either leading worship or playing or sharing short messages. And then last year Maj Paul brought his grand concept of decorations and displays inside out auditorium itself. The centerpiece was a 2 or 3m tall cross, with displays including the open tomb and Holy Communion etc.

This year was just as grand, with a new addition of a Garden of Gethsemane and about 70 drawings from us youths. I loved the peace and quietness of the hall which allowed me to just wander through each exhibit and reflecting on the stations of the cross. It's an open exhibit throughout the week, and since I'm in church so often, I steal ten minute breaks from studies and work to go into the hall.

And perhaps a constant challenge would be trying to keep the SAY services fresh. This year they had a dance and several characters narration. I was playing electric guitar for worship and it was a blast. Again, I'm most relaxed with the acoustic, but I'm trying hard to convert into a better electric guitarist haha. My left wrist and arm are hurting from excessive guitar playing.

One refrain that has beenn resonating a lot in my mind was"death, where is thy sting". The idea that sin and death has been conquered, because of grace I don't deserve and because of overwhelming love, it kinda messed my mind on how it all comes together. Freedom in Christ!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Shall continue my melodramatic posts on Mamee about two or three weeks back? So in that previous post I mentioned that I was very upset with Mamee not including sufficient seasoning packets for their 10-pack jumbo. Since that time, my sister has decided to buy the 10-pack to try her luck at the seasoning packets too, and it turned out that there are only 5 seasoning packets to last the entire 10! Which meant that the swindlers at Mamee fully intends for you to share one seasoning packet to TWO packs! This is a huge injustice and a breach of all ethical food packaging, because in the past it was one to one!!!!! Such gall. I'm probably never going to buy another Mamee pack ever again. 

Okay rant over. On a much much happier note, and still related to food, I finally found the one-litre Milo which they pack it in a UHT pack! I used to purchase these one-litre packs and guzzle myself silly whenever I have to teach marathon tuition sessions, or when I have to stay up all night to do assignments. But in the whole of last year and this year, I haven't seen these one-litre packs on sale at all. Not even once. All I see of Milo were those tin cans of powder, or they sell it in 6-packs of 200ml. But a 200ml pack isn't the same as one full litre! So I ended up switching to Vitasoy one-litres instead for most of last year. But guess what, I finally found it stocked again on the NTUC shelves today! 

I risk sounding very very bimbotic and frivolous in all these blog posts. Sorry. I will try to act my quarter-of-a-century age. 

Saturday, 16 March 2013

This blog post is prompted by a mini discussion on Twitter with a friend haha. It is with a certain sadness that I recently read that they are retiring MSN Messenger, or Windows Live Messenger. Never quite knew what to call it, because we always just call it MSN for short, but I think they undergone some name change before, hence Windows Live. For whatever reasons that come into play, they have decided to migrate this instant messaging platform to Skype, and that's it, no more MSN.

In a way it does not really affect my life now, because I think it must be at least two or three years since I last logged in to MSN, and as far as I know, very very few of my friends are still found there either! If I log in now it is probably a ghost town, and the E-buddy app thing to log on to MSN which I have on my phone is as good as useless. But contrast this to my secondary school and JC days (and possibly most of my army days too), MSN was practically where 75% of my social interactions took place. This was an era before Facebook and Twitter and Whatsapp and iPhone (first iPhone was 2007 I think) and what have you now that you can instantaneously send short messages to each other. Nowadays all the social and business chats are completed on my phone on Whatsapp, and sometimes email is dispensable too.

I guess in those "dark ages" of Internet's infancy years, the only way to sustain a decent conversation with someone was to get a computer, get online, and get on MSN to chat. Texting on the phone don't quite make the instantaneous grade, and calling may get too awkward or costly. MSN had cool smileys for just about any purpose, and if that wasn't enough you can add in more of your own too! I had one "stick out tongue" one which I really really liked, but I can't ever seem to find it now. And progressively they came up with group chats and 'nudge' functions and video conferencing and all these cool stuff.

I won't be ashamed to say that MSN was the place where I dated a lot! Okay, dated virtually haha. But it brought a lot of friendships and relationships closer. It is also possibly the cause of my late night owl habits too, because to go to sleep early meant missing out on conversations. Group chats with cell groups and project groups and JC orientation groups, haha that's where all the scandals are formed and solidarities forged. I could rant and rave without being too self-conscious because it isn't face-to-face, which meant closer sharing of stories and experiences! All those thrashy talk about how instant messaging and Facebook depersonalizes friendships are NOT true for me. I think I made a great counselor on MSN hahaha. 

It's a nostalgia virtual land of past happiness and sadness. Of course, when I first started Sec 1 and 2 cell leading six years back, the kiddies refused to get on MSN because they'd much rather flood me with calls and text messages. The young ones don't know any better hahaha. And when I did eventually move on to iPhone, I can't imaging life now without the phone-based instant messaging apps. I can't quite keep up with time and technology, but MSN's still a great platform for what it was for me. This blog post can't claim to give it the tribute it has in my formative years hahaha. In fact, very soon, blogging may just retire too. This world now demands instantaneous and short messages (hence, Twitter). You should treasure this trove I have here [sticks tongue out emoticon].

Sunday, 10 March 2013

I usually try to maintain this blog with happy posts, but of late I am getting increasingly disappointed with certain things, and among the chief culprit this time is Mamee Monster noodle snack! I'm pretty sure that snack is not entirely ancient old-school because I still see it around commonly. It's a crunchy instant noodle snack with a small packet of seasoning, which you have to pour right into the noodle packet and you can eat it without cooking. I give in to the occasional snack once in a while, and I love Mamee because the seasoning is literally an MSG bomb! It's so salty that it wakes me up like a jolt, and eating one packet probably maxes out my sodium allowance for the day, but I still like it! My primary school days were spent guzzling the salty MSG in the truckloads I think, and it didn't help that it was selling at 10 cents a packet. These days I think I may not even be able to find it in schools anymore, because it is undoubtedly a health hazard.

In the past they used to package the seasoning packet into each individual noodle packet itself, but nowadays if you buy the jumbo pack of ten, they pack the seasoning separately from the noodle packets. Now that to me is fine, but I got one such jumbo pack last week and I'm tremendously upset because I discovered that instead of ten altogether, there were only nine!!! And worst of all, they only packed four seasoning packets!!! It is absolutely unforgivable! I don't mind if it was some machine logistic error that accounted for nine packets instead of ten, but the very least they could do is to ensure that there are nine corresponding seasoning packets! Now I feel like they are cutting corners at everything and terribly short-changing everyone. How do you expect me to eat Mamee without sufficient seasoning packets! Takes the whole joy out of it.

Friend told me that he got his jumbo pack in Indonesia or Malaysia, and the same thing happened: not enough seasoning packets. I want to keep faith and think that I just got the isolated jumbo pack error, but I'm upset and disgruntled and don't wish to try anymore.  

Friday, 1 March 2013

Something rather trivial and random. A couple of days back I met up with a group of new friends that I got to know through Twitter! It's one of those weird things where we know each other from Twitter and we follow each other's lives through Twitter, and just based on that relationship we count each other as friends even though we've never met. The story began when I took up a rotation curation job for an NUS Twitter account. The idea goes that you will hold administrative rights to that account for one week, and you can tweet about anything you want, but after the one week you gotta pass it on to the next person, and so on. The really cool thing was I got to meet a group of Twitter friends while on that curator job, and we eventually kept in touch on our personal accounts after that. A couple of them are also curators too, so it makes it all the more easier. 

And it is an incredibly strange "tweet-up" (meet-up), because here are a bunch of people that I converse a lot to on Twitter, but have never spoken to them in real life. I know they kinda exist in person, as can be seen from their display pictures or their occasional selfie photos. It's fascinating to know that they have an actual name, compared to knowing them by their Twitter handle. For the most part, the tweet-up was quite great, they are really nice people and I'm thankful for this convoluted way of meeting new people. Funny how us apparent strangers can gather out of nowhere and have decent conversations like this. Now who says you cannot meet nice people online???

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Just want to blog about something rather amazing that happened today! Will get straight to the point, I got a new electric guitar! For the guitar geeks it's a Duesenberg Starplayer TV in surf-green. Got it second-hand off a guitar forum at almost half the price that is retailing in the shops now, which is an absolute, absolute steal. But as much as I can wax lyrical on end about the guitar, I think the real story here is about how I got my guitar.

So yes, I responded to the seller on the forum yesterday, and he told me that I can drop by his house today to test it before buying. Had to travel all the way down to Bukit Panjang, and it was along the way on the journey that I decided to text old (bird) friend Atiqah, because she lives in that area too and I probably passed by her house. Told her about my reasons for being there, and then proceeded on to go and meet the seller. He was a great guy, gave his name as Airi, told me that he was a recording artiste, has an album in the making, and that he brought down this amp from the studio just so that I could try the guitar at his house. All along I was just like, okay cool -shrugs- and wow-whee-whoo-ing at the appropriate places, because c'mon I wasn't really that interested in this guy's life, and for a fleeting moment I thought he was trying to brag to me! Besides I am here mainly for the guitar, so I was really just trying to be as indifferent as my insouciant voice can summon. So I kinda spurned most of his attempts at small talk about gear and music and life. He brought out another guitar and offered it to me to try, but I kinda declined and just focused on transferring him the money online and looking to haul butt out of there asap. 

It was only when I was midway on the journey back home that Atiqah messaged me again, asking if I bought my guitar from Sezairi Sezali! Apparently he tweeted about it right after I left his house, and Atiqah follows him on Twitter. I obviously do not. Also, Atiqah knows for a fact that he lives in that area, and that I am in that area getting a second-hand guitar! It is not very difficult to put A and B together, and then you get C and D and E and F because of his revelations of his music recording artiste career and whatever else... I promise you I looked like an absolute fool in the train, half-smiling to myself and half-shocked at that realization. I walked into Sezairi's home and spent 20 minutes in his house and bought a guitar from him and I walked out without recognizing that was him!

Okay perhaps at this point it will be a good idea to remind you who Sezairi Sezali is. He won the last Singapore Idol a few years back. Didn't really follow that contest, and definitely not a true fan, but I actually watched him perform at Indoor Stadium a couple of years back! He was the opening act for Taylor Swift's concert, which I was at. He's probably got thousands of screaming fans who would love to get an encounter like I did. And I could have laid claim to the fact that I was jamming with Sezairi right in his house! But obviously I didn't, and I feel like a gigantic idiot for being so oblivious to who he is! Okay la he's not a globally known superstar, but still, it must take a huge effort to win Singapore Idol, and to get to where he is today, right?? Hahaha and I walked right past all of these opportunities to get to know him. Least he could do is to shout out his name and I would be sure to identify him haha, but he is so humble and really easy-going and friendly. What a way to introduce yourself too, as a "recording artiste", instead of "Singapore Idol winner" or "Taylor Swift opener". 

Okay. Back to the guitar. The Duesenberg plays really great, and it is in spectacular condition apart from several small cosmetic dings which you can't really see unless you are looking for it. The pick-ups are a blast, and I think it's versatile enough for just about any kind of music in church. It needs a good polish and some maintenance work, but it's got a whammy bar for vibrato, which I will need to get used to! Think I'm going to have a lot of fun with it. 

Saturday, 16 February 2013

In a series of meteorite mishaps and asteroid adventures that have happened today, I am so upset and disappointed and sad that these astronomical events didn't quite live up to my expectations! In case you haven't known, there was a meteorite explosion over the skies of Russia this afternoon, and there were reports of hundreds of people injured from the sonic wave that caused windows to shatter. You can Google some of the video captures that charted the meteorite's progress across the bright sky. It is absolutely amazing, it is practically a fireball that descended from outer space. And that's not all! It was calculated that at approximately 3:26am tonight there will be an asteroid named "2012 DA14" flying by at close range to our planet Earth. It won't hit us, and it certainly isn't the biggest asteroid ever, but it is the closest asteroid in I don't know how many years and it is once-in-a-lifetime event and the newspapers and the Internet are all talking about it.

If you know me, I am a strong proponent of witnessing the historical moment, and I like to catch record-breaking events or watch people create history. And the ostensible thing to do for asteroids and meteorites would be to stay up and try and catch a glimpse of it! I'm amazed at astronomy and I quite like stars and comets and planets and moons and the sort, so I wanted to at least stay up and watch the live video streaming that NASA is providing for the asteroid. It didn't help that I watched some of those Russian meteorites videos and they showed a huge fireball across the skies, and I kinda wound up expecting a similar fireball trail across my night sky at 3:26am. It really was splashed on the newspaper headlines and then NASA made such a big hype over it, and my hyper-imaginative mind went aliens invasion and end of the world and Transformers and Armageddon.

Let me tell you that it was just over about half an hour ago, and it was nothing exciting at all. Zilch in the night sky. No fireworks or trail or star or fast-moving bright light. And the video feed is super anti-climatic. It just went "And it's coming in... and it is over the Equator now... and it is at its closest to Earth now, and the people in Northern Hemisphere should see it exiting now". That was that!!! It was over in less than a minute, and I cannot believe I stayed up late for something that was stupendously boring and I couldn't see anything in the night sky! For all the hype, I would have thought that there will be more involved to it, but nope it just came and gone without so much of a whimper.

I am so disappointed now hahaha I think I kinda expected too much. I really wanted to see a fireball, but it wasn't going to happen at all, and my aliens or Transformers didn't exactly materialize either. The so-called historical event is terribly misconstrued too. I feel so cheated for all the excitement generated, only for it to come and go in a little over 45 or 50 seconds and then life goes back to normal, and it didn't even create a bang. Sigh. I feel like a poor little boy who didn't get what he wanted for Christmas hahaha. Okay this is so depressing and disappointing, I am going to bed wishing that I went to bed earlier. 

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Led worship and shared the message last night at youth service, and this is something which I constantly tell myself to not get into such situations, but it still happens anyway! I always end up neglecting one for the other, and then end up unprepared for both, and I feel terrible about it. But last night was a good reminder to not trust on my own failings or to lean on my own strength. The topic for last night was on the power of the cross, and why did Jesus have to die on the cross for us.

I'd like to look back and think of how my ministry has evolved over the years? Like how I prepared my messages in the past and how I delivered it is drastically different from the way I do things now. It is all these changes that allow me to grow and lead more effectively, because you sort of gain experience as to what works and what doesn't. And I think my personal relationship with God also improved a lot too, in terms of the way I view my perspective of Him, and how it changes my attitude towards certain aspects of my life. I think preparation for everything is key. It helps that when I prepare for worship I know somewhere in the equation that I have to first worship God; and just the same that if I want to speak to others about Jesus I have to first meet Jesus and talk to him first. You know, such an orientation helps me tremendously now, which previously I didn't really pay much regard to.

But for all of these, boo-boos still happen! Last night I wanted to recite Isaiah 53 in The Message version, and I have this dual-translation Bible which shows the NIV on one column of the page and The Message on the other column. Then Rachel was laying down some really really heavenly synths on the keyboard, and I started the recitation of Isaiah 53 in The Message... but somehow when I flipped the page I read the second half in NIV instead, and didn't realize it until the end! Oh well. Mistakes happen. But I sincerely hope that God's word transcends different versions of the Bible, and the gospel is received just the same.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Generally I think I'm pretty much happy to be left alone in school, like there can be days where I just go for my lectures and tutorials, sit alone in class, and then leave for home, all without really having to talk to anyone at all. But that's not to say that I am a caveman recluse who hides from people, nor does it imply that I have no contributions to the class discussions at all! I do have very good friends that I've met in school, with whom I have lunch or dinner once in a while. I speak up in class about topics that I have great passion for, or on subjects that really interest me. But I just kinda think that my uni life is kinda drab and boring, not staying in hall, not really interested in school activities or CCAs, stuff like that.

And this is too stark a contrast with my JC and secondary school days! I go out with friends several times in a week after school, or we sign up to be student leaders or orientation leaders or go crazy in CCA. Haha I know deep down somewhere there's an enthusiastic Guan You and there's a quiet Guan You, and they kinda live on two different time tangents, but they are still there.

Anyway, I had back-to-back classes from 9am to 5pm on Tuesday with no breaks in between at all, save for the 15 minutes interval before each class began. Remembered being absolutely exhausted, and definitely not in the mood to socialize some more, but I still went out with a group of fellow Geography honours friends to have dinner with one of our prof! Prof Zhang took us for an economic geog class last semester, and at the end of the module he invited all of us to his house for a party (quiet Guan You did not attend). Several months later, they decided to ask him out on Tuesday for an early Chinese New Year gathering, and we went down to Holland Village and spent the evening at Crystal Jade.

Honestly, I can't say that I have a lot of things in common with these friends, but I really enjoyed myself. Most of the time I am really lazy to bring myself to the effort of getting to know my peers, but occasionally I try to bring out the social butterfly in me and enjoy things abit. 

Friday, 1 February 2013

January has just ended, and strangely it does not feel like the inception of the new year has only consisted of one month. I feel like I have been in 2013 for very long already, even though I am still not used to writing "2013" on the occasions that I have to scribble dates. I still have to add that additional stroke to make my 2 become 3, and even as I am typing this post I have to backspace and change my 2012 to 2013. 

I think part of the reason why January has seemed extra long is because of all the new changes that are taking place? School has resumed, although I will be the first to tell you that it is nothing exciting because it is my final semester and nothing interests me anymore. I have a new and wonderful cell group on Friday nights, and I am just starting to get to know them better. There has been some changes to various things and I am still trying to come to grips with all of them.

Possibly the most annoying thing in school is how everyone sort of has an idea of what they want to do when they graduate, but for the most part I am entirely clueless? And this past week there was a Career Fair in my school, and I vehemently skipped it because I don't want to know that I am not good enough for the jobs on offer. Truth be told I don't really want to do anything that is related to my Geography degree, and for whatever other reasons I am just trying to search for some open door somewhere which does not really exist yet. 

Okay maybe there are some doors, and maybe there are some signs, but for the most part I am belligerently trying to do things on my own and trying to assume that I know better. Which I know very well will not bode well, but ahh whatever, please let me make these mistakes. 

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Went to send off Shaw and Katharina at the airport earlier today, and it's a real joy to meet people like them who consistently inspire me in my faith and challenge me in my Salvationism as I got to know them over the course of the last year and a half. They've been here for studies and work, and have also been involved in various ministries in church. And of course, it adds more international friends to visit if I ever have the chance in future. 

Weekend came and left, and I get the nagging feeling that I haven't done anything much that is productive. Although if someone else looks back on my behalf, they will probably say it's not so bad, but I feel like I want to learn something new or do something different. Haha okay next weekend! 

And lastly, I am in the preparation for a Friday topic on who is Jesus Christ. Again, I can't express how much I am impacted and inspired just from reading and researching, and for Christ's presence which is just so overwhelming. 

Keeping this short =)

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Just a small little thought that is going in my head. I think the role of SMS and instant messaging and Facebook and Twitter and Whatsapp is quite indispensable to my cell group leading. For what it all does with keeping up with everybody, I think I am tremendously thankful for technology for being able to just message anyone in my cell and have a decent conversation with them from it. The obvious things that I can do with it are to disseminate prayer requests lists, or send out Bible verses, or small encouragements, but in reality I do very little of that haha. Majority of the time I get the feeling that the main fellowship of my cells operate separately from the Fridays weekly meeting, on virtual space!

And perhaps, just perhaps, sometimes I think I understand them even better through SMS, cos if I ask them out for face-to-face meetings it somehow seems are more intimidating for teenagers? Haha of course this is what they always say, that technology depersonalizes and destroys actual interactions. But I think it works in the reverse way for me, because SMS and Whatsapp brings out the more intimate and more personal sharing, and when I meet them face-to-face it breaks down more walls.

Haha quite funny how things change in a matter of a decade, cos when I first took my very very first cell group when I was 15, I didn't even have a phone! Friendster and MSN were all the rage. And when I took the Sec 1 and 2s a few years back, I know my phone was constantly abuzz with truckloads of SMSes and long phone calls (little girls). And fast forward to now, everybody in the cell or ex-cell is included in a Whatsapp group that never stops ringing cos there's 8 people all vying to speak.