Journal #194 – Mental Peace, Contentment

In today’s world, everyone must be able to multi-task. Your boss demands it. Your customer demands it. Your family demands it.

Some people can do it. Some people just simply can’t. Everyone is just different. For me, I am in the latter category and mental peace can be a foreign concept to me.

Why?

I am someone who is high on the neuroticism personality trait. My mind is always worrying and when it does that, it tend to be stuck on a loop about a certain event or situation. That usually happens because I perceived a threat.

The past me won’t be able to deal with a lot of things effectively.

Now?

I know constantly worrying about something specific and have it on a loop in my mind doesn’t help. It’s a waste of mental energy and raises my stress level. It has caused me to suffer sleepless nights. I have since learned to instead attempt to divert my mind’s attention elsewhere more lighthearted. Daydream about something I like even.

Not only that, I have also practiced to write down my worries on paper and put down what are the possible solution when the diversion doesn’t help. I have also tried and talk it out with maybe friends or colleagues. These processes helps to prevent build up inside of me, which brings about the mental peace that I need.

But that doesn’t mean my mind is peaceful. It is only more peaceful than what it usually is. Because being a highly-sensitive person means I also get overwhelmed by my physical environment easily or when I have lots of things to do or handle in life.

So this is why I found minimalism so helpful. It taught me to prioritize. It helped me to decide what are the things that’s useless to me and what are valuable to me. With that, I focus on doing the essentials. I focus on decluttering my schedules. I focus not so much on material possession but more on experiences. It is all about being un-busy.

This bring me to my work. The past me would be extremely worried about the current schedule of my current project. It’s too tight and there’s 101 thing to do. My manager in all her wisdom decided to accept instead of taking a strong stand against pilling on more features just because the customer refuse to budge. Yet these days, I’m not worried at all. I just focus on doing what I need to be doing. I take my break from time to time. My neurotic mind knows very well that I can’t finish on time and yet I made a conscious choice of focusing on crafting my code. Why? Because software development is an art to me now.

You see, I’m now perfectly ok if my boss decides to kick me away, scold me, or fire me for failing to meet the requirements. Because at the end of the day, my company isn’t going to be there when I suffer major health problem. They aren’t going to pay for any future illness that I may suffer in the future caused by overwork during my younger days. They aren’t going to be there to provide psychological services when I need it. It’s up to me to take care of me. I know my body, my mind, and what I want in life.

So now, I’m at peace. I’m content.

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New Rising – Part 2

He came upon a large passage way that had a fork leading to two separate tunnels. The walls and ceiling of the passage way was unlike the entrance of the cave with their shiny and smooth surfaces. It was as though they had been thoroughly polished by some mechanical means.

Not knowing what lies ahead in either of the tunnels, Tar’Kari randomly chose one after putting down a red marker on the ground to indicate to the rest of the group that someone had been through here and was ahead.

The second tunnel progressively became rounder as he went deeper, placing red markers at roughly equal distance from each other. Before he knew it, he was in some kind of large chamber that showed size of large scale human activity. There were large columns, many wide as four men put together that went all the way to the top of the chamber. Instinct told Tar’Kari that these are support structure. Section of the chamber were carved by some kind of tools with some corners at a right angles — Nature don’t do right angles.

At the center of the chamber was a massive metallic, roughly spherical structure that took up three-quarter of the available space with half of it seemingly buried in the ground. It was connected to another elongate structure stretches as deep as the eyes can see in this strangely well-lit chamber. There were no visible sources of light. That alone fascinated him. He wondered how it could be done.

Tar’Kari followed a curved, yet rather slippery path, down to the structure below. As he got closer, he felt a deep sense of trepidation and at the same time, he was exhilarated. The moment he got close to the structure, it emitted a low rumbling noise before a red beam swept across him several times.

Then the structure asked, in Tar’Kari’s language, “Who are you? You are not authorized to be here.”

“I’m Tar’Kari, the wiseman for Huntsman Tribe. I’m here to find out more about the cave.”

“Interesting. So there are humans on the surface?”

“Yes, there are countless tribes like ours.”

The structure mumbled loudly, as though Tar’Kari wasn’t there, “That means the Black Plague has been defeated. We can begin the rebuilding process.”

Tar’Kari was puzzled, “Black Plague? Rebuilding?”

The structure ignored him and there were more rumbling noise coming from the rear of the structure.

“Multiple threats detected.”

Multiple tiny yet extremely reflective spheres shot across the air and went straight for the only entrance into the chamber and hovered there.

Tar’Kari saw the sphere, knew immediately what it meant and yelled, “Stop! Those are my people and meant you no harm. We are just here on a research expedition.”

A massive circle open up in the middle of the circle to reveal a massive sliver blob of matter that was human shaped moving towards Tar’Kari. He could make out the individual parts that made up this blob of matter. They were like extremely tiny machines. At the center of the blob was a shiny sphere that was emitting blue light in all direction.

Tar’Kari was both dumbstruck and awestruck by the sight. No words could ever describe what he was feeling or saw.

All he could muster was, “What are you?”

[To be continued]

Journal #193 – Chill Sunday with movie

After resting for most of Saturday and taking my medication, I felt better today. With that, I decided to spend some time to watch Netflix in the morning and asked my friend if he wanted to watch Blade Runner 2049.

He agreed and so we picked the 2.50pm show. I booked the tickets online, watched more Netflix, and meet my friend for lunch at 1.30pm.

For lunch, we ate at the Legendary Hong Kong restaurant but for me, even though I felt better, it doesn’t mean I have that big of an appetite to eat.

I ordered BBQ Pork with Roasted Pork rice but I couldn’t finish it. Half way through, I was feeling very bloated and I stopped eating. I didn’t want to push myself further until the point where I need to vomit.

After lunch, we went window shopping around the mall before entering the cinema.

The movie lasted more than 2 hours and my butt actually hurts from sitting for so long. Had to adjust myself from time to time towards the end.

I actually enjoy the slower pace of story telling with Blade Runner 2049. It allowed me to focus on enjoying the dystopian atmosphere, the character development, especially that of Ryan Gosling’s character. There were some action scenes which were decent, not too flashy like Star Trek, Star Wars, and the likes. But I think the main draw of the show was how it developed the story slowly and doesn’t feel rushed like most science fiction shows these days. The neo-noir added a certain flair or tension to the show. I also found myself asking certain questions like how humans are able to breathe if the ecosystems of Earth has been totally destroyed. How is oxygen produced? And if humans in the Blade Runner universe able to spread themselves across 9 planets, why are they recycling the massive waste that is outside the main city, which is Los Angeles. Overall, definitely a 5 out of 5 for me.

After the movie, my friend and I made our way home.

For me, I had some water as I was extremely thirsty before going for a quick jog of 3.8 km around my neighborhood. I didn’t do a 5 km as I didn’t want to overexert myself.

Journal #192 – In Recovery

The last two days had been nasty. Aches all over and pain were amplified.

For most of yesterday, I lost my appetite though I did try to force myself to eat something. Managed to finish lunch without major incident. After work, I chose to meet up with my friend for dinner, thinking that I will be fine. I mean it’s had been fine so far. I took some pain medication. In hindsight, I actually self-medicated with Hyoscine ButylBromide (left over prescriptions for my gut issues back in June, before the endoscopy in August of this year) after lunch, which may have helped with the gut discomfort. Maybe that’s why I felt better to meet my friend.

After dinner, well, that’s when things went wrong.

My mood went downhill and felt truly sick. I got snappy. Then my friend and I went to Swensens to have some ice-cream. Instead of ice cream alone, my friend also ordered a large box of fries. I was like “what the hell?” The sight of food already want to make me puke by then.

The fries came and my friend kept pushing me to eat because he can’t finish it. I’m like, “dude, the sight of food is making me feel like puking. And worse, it’s carbohydrate and deep-fried.” He kept pushing, I kept rejecting.

By then, my nerves were already at tipping point but I kept being asked if I’m ok up to three times. Then my friend proceeded to act out my actions of me trying to control my desire to puke and the general discomfort. That did pushes me off the edge so I glared at him.

Anyway, I guess next time, even at the slightest of discomfort that I’m feeling, I better reject all outings with people and stay at home.

So this morning, I went ahead and see the doctor and got some medications. It was stomach flu as I suspected. I have it often enough to know the symptoms.

The medications prescribed to me by the doctors are all so colorful. They are for the purpose of controlling diarrhea, nausea, bloatness, other general gut discomfort.

I spent most of my day sleeping as the medicines are causing me to feel drowsy. I did try to catch up on all the tv shows that I didn’t watch over the week but my body is also suffering from the effects of spending too much time in front of a screen. So… I will have to balance everything.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

10 Tech News Roundup #9

Here are 10 tech news that I found interesting.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 breaches privacy law, says Dutch DPA – The Dutch data protection authority has concluded that Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system breaches local privacy law on account of its collection of telemetry metadata. The OS has been available since the end of July 2015. Techcrunch

Amazon finally makes a waterproof Kindle, after 10 years of Kindles – Amazon has been selling Kindles for 10 years now, but “waterproof” hasn’t appear on its list of incremental technological advancements until now. The company just announced a new version of its popular e-reader that builds on last year’s Kindle design and now has an IPX8 waterproof rating. The Verge

Hyatt breach exposed customer payment data at 41 hotels – Hyatt announced today that its payment systems were breached, exposing credit card data from 41 hotels in 11 countries. The hack was discovered in July and the investigation only just recently concluded. Techcrunch

AWS and Microsoft double down on deep learning with Gluon, a simplified ML model builder – AWS and Microsoft may be arch rivals when it comes to competing for business in cloud storage and services, but when it comes to breaking ground in newer areas where volumes of data make a difference to how well the services work and creating systems that are easier to use, collaboration is key. Today, the two companies announced a new deep learning interface called Gluon, designed for developers of all abilities (not just AI specialists) to build and run machine learning models for their apps and other services. Techcrunch

Fake Adobe Flash malware locks your Android phone’s data unless you pay up – Consider this yet another PSA on why you should never ever download Adobe Flash Player, or anything resembling it if you’re using an Android phone. Security researchers at ESET have discovered a new kind of ransomware infecting Android phones on a level nobody’s ever seen before. Called DoubleLocker, the exploit encrypts the data on the infected device and then changes its PIN number so victims are locked out of their device unless they pay the ransom demanded by hackers. Mashable

Intel Delivers 17-Qubit Quantum Chip to European Research Partner – On Tuesday (Oct. 10), Intel delivered a 17-qubit superconducting test chip to research partner QuTech, the quantum research institute of Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands. The announcement marks a major milestone in the 10-year, $50-million collaborative relationship with TU Delft and TNO, the Dutch Organization for Applied Research, to accelerate advancements in quantum computing. HPCWire

Fujitsu Tapped to Build 37-Petaflops ABCI System for AIST – Fujitsu announced today it will build the long-planned AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure (ABCI) which is set to become the fastest supercomputer system in Japan and will begin operation in fiscal 2018 (starts in April). ABCI will use Intel’s Xeon Gold processors and Nvidia V100 GPUs and deliver 550 petaflops theoretical peak performance in half-precision floating point and 37 petaflops of double-precision peak floating point performance. The award is from Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). HPCWire

Qualcomm fires another shot at Apple with a new lawsuit in China – Qualcomm has filed a lawsuit against Apple in its continuing legal battle over patents, this time looking to block the manufacturing and sale of iPhones in China, according to a report by Bloomberg this morning. Techcrunch

WD shows off market-ready MAMR tech for monster hard drives – Western Digital showed off a a prototype hard drive with a potentially revolutionary new energy-assisted magnetic recording technology called microwave-assist magnetic recording (MAMR). The company says the new tech could potentially be ready for market by the end of 2019, and it could allow the manufacture of 40 TB hard drives by 2025. For context, WD is now currently offering 14 TB drives to datacenter customers and 12 TB drives are just entering the general market. The company performed the reveal at its “Innovating to Fuel the Next Decade of Big Data” event at its headquarters in Silicon Valley yesterday. Techreport

Chaos and hackers stalk investors on cryptocurrency exchanges – LONDON, SHANGHAI, NEW YORK: Dan Wasyluk discovered the hard way that trading cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin happens in an online Wild West where sheriffs are largely absent. Channel Newsasia

Journal #189 – Rush To Meet Deadline, Violating Core Values in Process

I’m pretty sure everyone in their professional life has been called upon or required to rush, grind, and push oneself to meet deadlines set by either the customer, client or even internal management team. Personally, I’m just not sure if it is even necessary. What I do know is it leads one to suffer from health problems when done wrongly. I have always done it wrongly and never once have I done it correctly. I will explain more later.

So what’s the end result when I rush? I neglect the balance that my body and mind need everyday. I had to pump my body full of caffeine just so that I can power it through.

That’s what I did today. I took four shots of expressos in the form of Americano. Then followed by two bags of Earl Grey Tea soaked in 400ml of hot water, refilled twice. My body actually felt so jittery after that, and everything looks suddenly so bright.

This is what I call violation of my health value just so that I can meet the unreasonable deadline set by my management. Hmmm… in hindsight, the deadline was actually set by the client. But the management team decided to make the call of waiting for me to join the company a month after I served my notice instead of getting someone else earlier, thereby reducing the amount of time I have to develop.

Now, before you ask why I did what I did, I will tell you. I actually took into account my mental energy levels (which is quite low even after all these years of working) before pumping myself so full of caffeine. It is in part because of my extreme unwillingness to give someone something that I don’t feel satisfied with.

With that much caffeine, now I don’t even know if I can sleep tonight. I suspect I will suffer from a massive sleep debt again. Right now, I do have a headache. My short term action definitely don’t align with my values.

So I’m not happy.

Other than the bad, what else? Well, nothing that is truly meaningful or valuable to me, except maybe a simple thanks. Maybe after this whole ordeal, I can look back and see some upside but definitely not at this moment. What I do know is that the company will get better standing with the customer. My manager gets a fatter bonus. My bosses will be happy.

There is one other thing.

There was an internal demo which included a quick meeting. It turns out we don’t have two more weeks of buffer anymore. We are expected to deliver a fully functioning application with bells and whistles by October 19, latest October 25. That is including the documents for the QA and testers. From where I’m standing, I see that our application is only 70% done. I estimate the authorization and authentication module definitely is only 45% done. Looks like I only have 4 days to finish it all and proceed to do internal integration testing.

I know most people will just say focus on delivering the core requirements… but I can’t. I am not satisfy just delivering the core because it violate my other core value of quality (more like perfection from my view).

Hmm…

I guess I’m gonna make a choice, deciding which violation of my core values that I’m willing to live with. And I think it’s a simple choice. I will ignore quality and focus on my health. Health is something that I cannot rebuild back. Most people have this thinking that you could nourish your health back but they fail to take into account you age with each passing day. Your body’s repair mechanism ages too. You can never get back your original health or vitality.

One last thing.

I’m gonna try and wind down my caffeine intake starting tomorrow so that I can sleep better at night. Not gonna sacrifice my own health so much just to deliver something for someone who don’t have the power or ability to repair my damaged body. Only I can by making the right choices.

I know some professionals may not agree or may find that I’m irresponsible by not focusing on quality. My response would be, you do you, I do me. If you have the drive, health is not one of your core value, and likes your standing amongst your colleagues or friends to be high up on the pedestal, go ahead and do what you want to achieve. For me, all I know is that I will be irresponsible to myself and my family if my physical and mental health takes such a massive toll and require my family to take care of me. If you have read through my journals, you would have known that I went through a period of depression, went on a career break, and re-evaluated what I want in life.

I have definitely slipped in terms of the alignment of my actions, goals, and values.

10 Science News Roundup #8

Here are 10 science news that I find interesting and important to take note.

How fever in early pregnancy causes heart, facial birth defects – Duke researchers now have evidence indicating that the fever itself, not its root source, is what interferes with the development of the heart and jaw during the first three to eight weeks of pregnancy. Science Daily

When the brain’s wiring breaks – Among all the bad things that can happen to the brain when it is severely jolted — in a car accident, for example — one of the most common and worrisome is axon damage. Axons are the long stalks that grow out of the bodies of neurons and carry signals to other neurons. They are part of the brain’s “wiring,” and they sometimes grow to amazing lengths — from the brain all the way down to the spinal cord. But axons are thin and fragile. When the brain receives a strong blow, axons are often stressed past their structural limits. They either break or swiftly degenerate. Science Daily

Superbugs may meet their match in these nanoparticles – Antibiotics may have a new teammate in the fight against drug-resistant infections. Researchers have engineered nanoparticles to produce chemicals that render bacteria more vulnerable to antibiotics. These quantum dots, described online October 4 in Science Advances, could help combat pathogens that have developed resistance to antibiotics (SN: 10/15/16, p. 11).

Secret Supereruption That Once Changed The World Found In North America – Yellowstone’s supervolcano gets all the attention these days, but it’s not the only vessel of apocalyptic eruptions. Today, there are several spots around the world that could bring about a game-changing eruption, and volcanologists are always on the hunt for ancient ones that until now have slipped beneath the radar.

Turns Out The Great Barrier Reef Can Actually Heal Itself, But We Have to Help It – he Great Barrier Reef is suffering from recent unprecedented coral bleaching events. But the answer to part of its recovery could lie in the reef itself, with a little help. In our recent article published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, we argue that at least two potential interventions show promise as means to boost climate resilience and tolerance in the reef’s corals: assisted gene flow and assisted evolution.

Bright light therapy at midday helped patients with bipolar depression – Daily exposure to bright white light at midday significantly decreased symptoms of depression and increased functioning in people with bipolar disorder, a recent Northwestern Medicine study found. Science Daily

NASA Is Running Out of The Most Precious Ingredient Needed For Future Space Missions – Classroom models lie – our Solar System isn’t a bunch of bright, closely nestled orbs. Instead, other planets are separated from Earth by unfathomable distances – and are often too cold, dim, and remote for any spacecraft to explore on solar power alone. Science Alert

EPA Says “The War on Coal Is Over” in Major Reversal of Obama’s Clean Power Plan – The Trump administration has formally announced its plan to repeal the Clean Power Plan – President Obama’s key policy to cut greenhouse gas emissions produced by power plants. Science Alert

This Is How Online Dating Has Changed The Very Fabric of Society – Digital match-making services have done more than just change how we find our perfect squeeze; they’re changing the fundamental nature of our social networks. According to a pair of researchers investigating online dating, the way we’re looking for love (and lust) is connecting communities in completely novel ways, breaking down boundaries and possibly even making for stronger long-term relationships. Science Alert

How to make the cosmic web give up the matter it’s hiding – Evidence is piling up that much of the universe’s missing matter is lurking along the strands of a vast cosmic web. A pair of papers report some of the best signs yet of hot gas in the spaces between galaxy clusters, possibly enough to represent the half of all ordinary matter previously unaccounted for. Previous studies have hinted at this missing matter, but a new search technique is helping to fill in the gaps in the cosmic census where other efforts fell short. The papers were published online at arXiv.org on September 15 and September 29. Science News

Journal #188 – I care about things maybe a little too much

I’m someone who feels deeply and get upset when things aren’t at their ideal. I am quite opinionated when it comes to certain things in life or in society as a whole.

Of course, there are people who said it’s none of my business and I shouldn’t care. To some, caring so much affects one’s mental health, and causes unnecessary stress. Some may say I should just keep the comments to myself and don’t upset the status quo. Maybe they are wrong or maybe they are right. I supposed it highly depends on the situation. What I know is that, if no one questions why things are a certain way and get the conversation going, nothing will change. In some cases, it will get worse.

An example would be the excessive pragmatism adopted by Singaporeans in general, until the point where nobody does anything if there is no short term monetary reward. I’m upset, disgusted, and at times angry about this situation because it affects me too. I like to believe that I’m a creative-type person who is also intellectual though I tend to contradict myself every so often because my thoughts are everywhere. I feel like I’m suffocating.

Yes, I know pragmatism is necessary to survive and it’s the practical thing to do. However, it takes away risk-taking behaviors. It takes away innovation. It suffocates whatever creative endeavors that a person may feel like taking on. It destroys the soul. This is probably why Singapore is amongst the world’s most unhappy nations.

It is my belief that the economies of the future will require societies to be creating new ideas and new products. That’s not to say the service industry is not important. Services will still play a big part. But it feels like Singaporeans are stuck in this mindset of being a worker in a highly-skilled production line where ideas come from the very top, who may or may not have a complete understanding of future requirement.

The other thing that I care about is the environment.

I care about how each nation and every company on this planet tries to fulfill the obligations stated in the Paris Agreement. So far, only a few nations actually take any substantial actions to meet those obligations. United States so far has proven to be utterly disappointing.

United States government is practically declaring war on the climate and wants more pollution because the president believed climate change to be a hoax. The other politicians has shown time and time again to be against the future generations, self-centered, caring only to fulfill the wishes of the other bunch of people who cares only about profit by focusing on policies that introduce coal back, approved oil pipelines, undoing green initiative, and many more. Yes, I’m referring to every single Republican politicians, and maybe some Democrats.

I’m definitely upset but there’s nothing I can do about it because I’m just one person and it’s not my country. Americans made their choice and decided to drag the whole world down with them. That’s how I feel. At least China showed leadership when it comes to fighting climate change.

The other issue related to environment is smoking. I know I have been talking about how smoking affects my health and the healths of other people around. But little does people know smoking also causes global warming and damages the environment around.

Every puff releases chemicals that are subsequently carried by the winds which subsequently land somewhere on the ground, in the waters, in the soils, etc. Considering just how many smokers are there in the whole world, it adds up. Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide are also released into the atmosphere.

Yet, using Singapore as the context, our approach to putting an end to smoking is what I feel to be too slow and not draconian enough. Only next year will we raise the minimum age of smoking from 18. Enforcement of smoking bans will only be properly done next year too. I mean…what the fuck?

I seriously feel that the whole industrial complex dedicated to making cigarettes shouldn’t even exist as the whole process involves some kind of serious environmental and health impact.

But I’ve got people telling me that we can’t ban smoking because we need the tax dollars. All I can do is to just glare and ask, “are you fucking serious?” Despite all the bad associated with smoking, all you care about is tax dollar? And now you know why being so pragmatic is such a bad thing? There are certain things that really just can’t be negotiated, not if we want to deal with something as bad as climate change and health problems.

Let’s not forget that I got friends who tell me that I’m weak because I can’t even take a little bit of secondhand smoke. Should I even call these people friends? Maybe not. I don’t care if you want to die young of inhaling all kinds of toxic chemicals but it doesn’t mean you have the right to drag me along with you.

In case anyone forgets, one of my core values is after all Health. The other being Environment. I mentioned this under my core value entry a few weeks back and foundational values entry even further back in time.

I’m sure you can count the number of times I mentioned I was upset about certain things. How disappointed I am. Now you know why it may not be healthy. But I supposed it’s all related to me being a highly-sensitive person. Maybe my neuroticism plays a part too.

Anyway, I am not very sure where to put this entry under. I feel like it’s a form of musing and at the same time, I feel like it’s a form of journal. For now, I think I will put this as my journal.