Journal #195 – Not Feeling It, Will just Document

I’m in an odd place now, dealing with some kind of mental fog. I just drank a small cup of coffee, feeling wide awake and yet, I have no inspiration. It has been this way for the whole day.

But I could document what I did today.

What did I do?

I wrote codes. I finished 6 out of 7 core functionalities for the administration module relating to identity and access. The core domain functionalities are all there and working well. Just that my colleagues and I hadn’t really gotten around to integrate fully with the rest of the application. The parts that we did integrate works. Access control based on user roles are working as intended.

All good.

Then went home as soon as it struck 6pm.

Showered, watched some shows, and have dinner.

Well, tomorrow is a public holiday, no work. But I have no concrete plans. Shall just go with the flow. Hopefully, I get the mental fog cleared and get my creative juices flowing.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

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Journal #171 – Random Snippets of Thoughts

Thought # 1

It is not the drug that make drug addicts but it is the need to escape reality, the real “world”. The real world is both sad and happy, violent and peaceful, greedy and charitable, and so on and so forth. So full of contradiction and some of us, humans, just couldn’t navigate, even more so in this hyper-connected world.

Thought # 2

Sometimes practicality and pragmatism forces you to ignore what your heart tells you. So you went and do what is practical. Do what is pragmatic. You made a choice and through that choice, you forgot what your heart told you. Over time, maybe over ten years, maybe over twenty, it doesn’t matter, those emotions bubble up and tear you apart from the inside. The longer you ignore that, the more miserable you feel. All in the name of practicality and pragmatism.

Thought # 3

I consume so I create. I am a processor.

Thought #4

Art works are censored because the people doing the censor or allowing the censor to happen are not willing to allow certain truths or another person’s reality to interfere with their own reality or perception. They are afraid.

Thought #5

There is only one truth in life. All of us will die with regret if we don’t do what our hearts tell us to, try new things or have new experiences. Even those who crave stability, security or certainty, should still go and do what you desire to do when that desire come to you. It’s that simple but not easy. You need to ignore that innate nagging that you need to be safe, be secure or be certain. I know because I am such a person. I’m struggling against this nature so that I don’t die with regret. Have a rough plan, put in place some basic safety mechanism (can be money, housing, clothing or food) and go execute that plan.

Thought #6

Being alone in the now is so important. Just like I decided to put away my headphones, stop watching Netflix. And listening to Spotify, and go for lunch alone. I’m sitting here waiting for my lunch to be ready, and I’m just staring at a wall with some sort of painting that has lots writing. It allows me to think, to create ideas, and then I write them down.

Journal #164 – Minimalism, Gratitude, Patience, and 5% More

Singaporeans sure complain alot; I complain a lot. We all are miserable.

Let me be clear. I don’t know of the minute details that led them to complain a lot but I assume it has to do with them NOT doing the following:

  1. Simplifying their lives
  2. Be grateful for what they already have
  3. Have patience for things to happen
  4. Applying 5% more effort, more time, to achieve what they want.

Of course, you may get upset and ask: how I can assume that? You may just say: I am not you or him or her. I am stupid. I haven’t experienced enough.

The list goes on.

I do question myself: Am I right or wrong with my assumption?

All I can say is, I don’t know. But what do I know? I drew my current conclusion through my observations thus far. And I do know I am like that too. I didn’t simplify my life. I wasn’t grateful for what I already have. I wasn’t patient enough to wait for things. I didn’t apply 5% more effort, or more time on whatever I want to achieve.

It made me unhappy. It made me FUCKING MISERABLE!

Now?

I simplified my life when it comes to material goods and owning things. Having access is more important. I buy only when I truly need it, and after I have asked myself several questions and answered them.

It doesn’t mean I am not affected by advertisement and the emotions associated with getting new things. I personally love getting gadgets. In the past, I got new phones, MP3 players, Discmans, etc., just because I want them. And at this stage of my life, I love Apple’s products and wanted to get the latest and greatest (iPhone X, I am looking at you). I am afterall like you, a human too. However, I applied 5% more effort to change my mindset (I am a lazy person and enjoy things status quo, so it’s a struggle everyday) and accept the feelings I have, then I moved on.

Simplification also come into play on what I have to say next. There is one thing in Singapore that always grind parents’ gears. I am not a parent nor do I foresee myself getting married anytime soon. So I don’t know what is it like. But I see it everywhere and I do know what it brings. It brings unhappiness. It makes everybody in the circle fucking miserable. I see it in every parent’s face.

What is it? Education.

Parents in Singapore always compare with their friends and colleagues when it comes to their kids’ educations. They fret over the school their kids go to, how much tuition their kids should get, etc.

Why they do it?

They have good intention behind it. All parents want their kids to have a better life than they did. They applied their worldview of having more money and climbing the corporate ladder as having a better life.

But it has gotten to a point where it becomes fucking excessive, especially when it comes to tuition or expectations parents have of their kids. It put pressure on both ends, no doubt. Parents, wanting the best for their kids, send them to the best school and tuition centers, spending out thousands of dollars every month. It strained their finances, creating unhappiness. Kids have more homework, less play. They suffer from unnecessary anxiety. As kids, they tend to suffer more because they are unable to articulate out. They internalized it as just went “because my parent blah blah blah…, I have to do it.” When they fail, they blame themselves. That leads to the increasing number of children committing suicide. When that happens, parents will be putting the blame on themselves. If they have more than one child, the other children in the household will also suffer.

So my question is: Is it fucking worth it?

And that question applies to your finances, and your family’s happiness and wellbeing.

That lead me to gratitude. I have also applied gratefulness whenever I am aware of it. There are times when emotions run high, I forget about it or didn’t realize it. I am grateful that I am alive, have a family, and friends. I am grateful that my parents allowed me to explore what I like and dislike. I am grateful that I am not living in poverty and had a decent education. I am grateful that I had and have decent jobs (though I don’t like my current one, it just pays the bills), so that I can have some stability in life.

I have also tried to be more patient. I am an extremely impatient person. I like to see results the moment I applied some action. It is still a work in progress. But over time, I have learned to take it slow and enjoy the process. Just like right now. I applied patience to my writing. In the past, all I thought about was wanting to be maybe a New York bestseller or at least be the best science-fiction novelist from Singapore. And I couldn’t wait to get there. Now I know it’s not easy. And it will never be. It takes patience and hard work.

Both gratitude and patience can go hand-in-hand too. It applies to my family and friends. I am also grateful for the fact that Singapore has a decent, working public transport that can get me to most places and try to be patient when there is a train fault. No need for random outburst or public display of unhappiness. If you can’t wait any longer, accept the situation, move on, and find an alternative.

If you studied and applied stoicism, even at the bare minimum, you will be able to understand what I am talking about.

But most Singaporeans will just complain. I don’t think they have that patience anymore. I also don’t think they have the gratitude anymore. They are always looking for greener grass without wanting to do anything about it. Or they just blame the politicians. I know I do. But it doesn’t change anything. Now I know that. You can vote out the politician at the next election cycle but the real problem is YOU.

Has always been you.

I have come to acknowledge and realize that politicians deal with big picture. They have a grand plan of how to make Singapore a better place. Someone has to do that so that we as nation has a direction. It is up to us to implement. But have we been implementing? We may have but is it enough?

That lead me to the part on 5% more. 5% more effort. 5% more time.

The loudest Singapore complainers are who I assume to be lazy. You can get all defensive with that all you want or lie to me or make up some excuses. I don’t care. At the end, you could be lying to yourself to make yourself feel good and then continue to feel fucking miserable. So start asking yourself, what have I been doing and finding an answer to that.

From what I have observed, these people are NOT spending 5% more effort and time to be on the ground, focusing on making changes to their immediate environment or to themselves. Instead, they rather spend the energy and time doing something as meaningless as complaining.

It’s just noise really. No meaningful actions.

I’m pretty sure even entrepreneurs also say that complaining does nothing. Only by doing, you see result.

And what do I mean by doing? Here are some examples:

 

If you are a rail engineer, put in 5% more effort (even if you are not fucking paid for it), when it comes to train maintenance. How much is 5%? I don’t know the actual amount for you. For me, as a Software Engineer, 5% more simply could mean running an additional unit test on a piece of function before pushing out that piece of code.

 

If you are a parent, put in 5% more time to instill patience in your kids so that they grow up to be patient to wait for things to happen. You see, impatience is a major contributing factor to quality problem at the end. People just want result or get something done and over with at the snap of a finger. So they cut corners instead of spending 5% more effort, 5% more time or even both to deliver quality. Technology these days has made us even more impatient. We get instant dopamine rush or gratification from our smart phones. Instant notifications. Instant news. Instant feedbacks. So much so that we forgot what is it like to wait.

 

You see, if we on the ground didn’t even do things properly within our immediate environment or with ourselves, be fucking patient with the process, be grateful for what we have already achieved, how the fuck can we effect changes at other places.

For me, minimalism was hard. Gratitude was, and sometimes, is hard. Patience is hard. But I applied the same 5% more mindset to them. The end result is. I’m happier than I was. I’m less miserable than I was.

So I hope you can see that, it all starts with us, as an individual. I’m good now. Are you?

Journal # 162 – Friday Movie Night

Another week’s gone. Weekend is here. For some reason, despite me hating my job, I manage to be productive enough to deliver a function for the project that involve WCF, Authentication, and WPF.

Other than working, I actually spent most of my working hours chatting with my colleagues, doing job searches, looking for courses, and chatting on Facebook with my friends.

At around 1800hrs, I left office and made my way to Jem to meet my friend for movie.

I’m writing this part of the journal while sitting in the cinema. Earlier, I went to have dinner first at Xing Wang Cafe, ordered their speciality fried rice, a piece of pork chop, and a glass of iced honey lemon drink. While I was eating, my friend went to collect the movie ticket for the movie call Innocent Curse at 1900hrs.

That’s all for now.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Journal #161 – Balance Pragmatism and Idealism

Life would be so much better if everything is actually ideal, meaning you get what you want when you want and how you want it. But life isn’t full of ideal situations. So there are times when you actually need to be practical, pragmatic in your approach to life.

For me, I am someone who want to be able to do whatever whenever I feel like it. I will be excited to want to try and do something without much thoughts into how I might achieve it. That’s me being idealistic.

For example, I wanted to be a full-time writer and having a part-time job.

At first, I will be willing to quit my full time job at the slightest of discomfort or unhappiness. But after a few days, the emotions died down and then I start to realize it was a stupid plan. The me who craves stability and safety took over and be the one driving all my actions. Plans will be put in place.

I kept the desire to to be a full-time writer as a long term goal but there has to be a decent plan to achieve certain level of competency and freedom especially in areas such as financial before I can quit my full-time job. I also need to decide what kind of full-time writing I want to do. I do know I enjoy fiction writing but is it enough? What are the other things that I could try? I ask myself questions like: Do I want to be a technical writer? Do I want to be a journalist? If I am a journalist, what would I like to cover? How good are my research skills?

Turns out I don’t have any decent answer for any of the above questions. There are also questions when when it comes to part-time job.

I also start to think about what I want to be doing? Am I willing to do something I know I will feel extremely stressful doing? Like customer service?

I also didn’t quite have a decent answer.

Other than finding answers to those questions, I also recognize that if I don’t work as a journalist or a technical writer, how would I know if I like it or not. Yet, companies in Singapore requires someone with at least 1 year of experience doing such writing before even considering you and not all of them has internship positions.

So how do I achieve competency?

A possible way would be to undergo a formal education so that I get some sort of certification. I actually went to search for courses and found some. However they need money. Money that I don’t have right now. Yes, I do have some emergency funds but that doesn’t mean I want to spend them for such thing. This is how I decided that my current full time job is really the best way for me to acquire those funds. Only after I reached a certain level of competency, would I go and do a proper career change.

There is a parallel way that I’m taking. This way is all about me showing up consistently and keep doing whatever I am doing now. That means, I will put daily journal up. But I know that isn’t enough. I know I need to start churning out more and more content. But what kind of content other than my journal that I should be putting out? I thought of fictional content like short story is a good start.

The funny thing is, I forgotten that I had already made a plan to show up consistently over the past two weeks. My emotions were in turmoil and I was trying to adapt to working in a corporate environment. I have in fact put on my calendar that I will publish one short story every month on the 15th last month.

Well, the 15th is fast approaching and honestly, I haven even thought of a decent story to write and the deadline that I set for myself is fast approaching. But I will figure out something.

If you someone like me who is always moved or affected by emotions, learn not to take any drastic action just yet. Wait it out and see if you will figure out a decent plan. You really just had to work through the shit and getting your hands dirty before you can get what you want.

I hope this can be of a great help.

Journal #159 – Core Values

In my previous entry, I talked about my foundational values that form the basis of my other values that define who I am. In today’s entry, I will be talking about my core values.

When it comes to values, you can think of them as stacked on top of each other like an onion. Foundational values form the core, core values on the next layer, followed by minor values.

Core values although important, can be slightly more flexible when it comes to applying in real life. Certain or minor infraction are allowed but too much of it or outright violation will cause me to be very upset.

For these core values, not exhaustive, I will be ranking them in accordance to how important they are to me. They are not exhaustive because my full-time job is taking away so much of my time, preventing me from doing proper self-actualization work. What I mean is that after a long day of work, I tend to want to spend quite a fair amount of time shutting down parts of my mind and do mindless stuff as part of my “relaxation”.

Health – My health, both mental and physical, are important to me. Without health, I won’t be able to do anything in life. This is why I will try to avoid eating fast food whenever possible, and eat healthy whenever possible. Less oil, less salt, and definitely no sugar. I will try to work out as best as I could so that I stay healthy. One thing that I hate the most is smoking, especially second-smoke. Due to smoking’s area of effect, I am particularly upset or disgusted with smokers.

Relationship – My relationship with my friends is important to me because my friends are my support pillars when it comes to life. I tend to talk to my friends when I’m stressed, upset, or when I need some kind of advice or validation. Without them, I think I will spiral downwards and become massively depress. My relationships with my family members are equally important too. Without them, I won’t have the stability in life that I need. I will always try my best to give whatever I can give to the relationship though at times, it may seem that I’m receiving more than I’m giving. Now, maybe one day, this value may be upgraded to be part of my foundational value as life goes on. We will see.

Quality – When it comes to whatever I do in life, I always try to deliver the end result that is of a certain quality. So much so that, people won’t need to come back to me for further clarification, fixes, etc. However, there are times when my emotions got in the way or when I don’t like to do something, the quality of my output may slip.

Mobility – This specifically refer to “I do my work whenever and wherever I want.” I never quite like to stay in one spot working and work for a fix period of time. I like to be able to choose where I work from, when I work, and how long I work. Kind of like freelancing work. However, there are times when I need to lock myself in so that I do the work required. The reason is simple: I’m a very lazy person.

I think that pretty much cover all the core values that I could think of now. When I find more, I will update this list again.

I hope this helps you to identify your own core values in life so that you can focus on them and make your life meaningful.

Journal #158 – Emotionally Exhausting Monday

When I went to work this morning, I was feeling somewhat productive and equally gossipy. I spent most of my morning chit-chatting with my colleague about life and work.

For work, I went about fixing some issue with the async web service call and managed to update the client UI accordingly.

We went for a quick lunch, went back to office, and I continue to chit chat with my colleague again.

In the meantime, I waited for the team leader to come back, and I checked with him on what to do next. I also went about asking for some time off for tomorrow morning for a medical appointment. He agreed to it and so I will go off around 11 am for the appointment and then come back after lunch.

I went back to my seat and studied how to implement a login page using WPF. I manage to create the basic form in less than an hour. I also discussed with another colleague, whose responsibility is on the backend services, on the various web services that I will need for my part of the work. She got back to me on the web services later in the evening.

I also raised the issue of my upcoming military in-camp training with the team leader. He said he will check with the department manager and the technical manager. I did indicate repeatedly that I didn’t want to defer. After that, I went to check with the admin on the status of my company-issued laptop who told me to check with the IT department.

So I did just that. Went down to the first floor where the IT department, waited for them to finish preparing the final few stages of the setup, and I took the laptop.

Everything was good up to this point…

I went back to my desk and my team leader said the department manager wanted to talk to us. So I went along. It turned out the department manager wanted me to defer the upcoming in-camp training.

Noooooooo!

With that, my mood was destroyed. I didn’t want to do any more work.

Screw work!

I already indicated so thoroughly that I wanted to go for the in-camp training. One of the reasons, which I never said, was because my friends will be there and they make the whole training enjoyable. I love having them around. Secondly, another reason which I didn’t mention, deferring the training means there will be make-up training later with people I don’t know. It will also throw my future training schedule off. I won’t be with my friends anymore going forward and in many ways, will affect my desire to go back for future training.

Look, I’m someone who get depressed every so often. Having friends around is what kept me going and help to raise my mood. Take that away from me, I will slip back into depression. And if I have to pretend to make new friends just to get by, that’s going against my personal value again. It does not have authenticity. That itself will upset me quite a lot.

Of course I didn’t share that with my manager. As manager, I don’t think she cares. I understand her priority is delivery of the project on time as proscribed in the tender, and that the rest of the team does not need to work overtime. She added that going for the training after this phase is fine and she won’t stop me.

Well, that’s not the point… not for me anyway.

Professionally, I will still deliver what is required and contribute to ensure the smooth delivery of the end product.

Emotionally, I am extremely not happy and will be taking a series of actions over the next few weeks so that I can right my own ship back to its original heading. I do have quite a few things planned after this phase… This definitely is a wrench in the gears. But then life doesn’t always go your way.

It was emotionally exhausting day for me. I got back home, ignoring work and focus on watching my TV shows.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Journal #157 – Gaming Sunday

I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t feel as depressed as I was yesterday when I woke up at around 1030hrs.

Upon waking up, I actually went searching for jobs with my phone while still in my bed. I manage to find one that I thought was interesting. It was a full-time writing position with a media company in Singapore. I actually shared the job description with some of my friends.

I am excited and wanted to apply. I also shared my discovery with my mom and subsequently, the whole family. I told them that I wanted to try something new and I got sick of working with computers already ( as in software development).

I went for a shower after dinner and I am suddenly reminded that I don’t have a decent resume. My resume was mostly geared towards looking for software development job and I don’t have any writing experience in a “professional” setting. I admit that my low self-esteem kept rearing its ugly head, sabotaging me, forcing me to rethink.

Applying the five-second rule. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

I will prepare a new resume geared towards career change.

As per my journal title, let me talk about video game; specifically, Cities: Skyline. I love this game a lot. Well, the base game with the various DLCs. I personally don’t do mods. In case you are wondering why, it has something to do with my personal value of authenticity. I apply it to video games too.

I actually spent almost the whole day playing this game. I was focused on trying to stabilize my city’s tax income. It had been fluctuating rather badly even though I fixed the “traffic” issues, and the industrial zones and commercial zones are getting raw material and goods respectively.

After some tweaking and redoing the roads, my city’s treasury managed to accumulate 15 million dollars as at 2000hrs and the population stood at around 290k, if I remember correctly. I hope to go beyond 300k with the base game.

I also decided to start designing my city better. Area by area, I started adding greenery. I was spam clicking my mouse as I randomly placed trees and bushes in empty areas of my city. My right index finger kind of is aching now.

The following screenshot was taken at 1819hrs today. See the whole bunch of trees between the buildings.

Compare it with a very old screenshot of the same area I took exactly two months ago (Yeah, it has been that long since I last played the game). Oops, the exact two months was unintentional.

Notice the drastic changes? Yeah, my city has been evolving.

And here is an overview of my city today, screenshot taken at around 1800hrs.

Compare it with the screenshot I took slightly more than a month ago.

Notice the insane road implementations everywhere? Haha. It was part of my idea of optimizing traffic by forcing one directional traffic with the highway road-type. You will also see additional mixed residential-commercial-office areas. And now I got a cargo rail network that span across my city, delivering raw material and processed goods to the various commercial and industrial zones.

One thing to note. My system (Core i7 6700, 16GB DDR4 Ram, GTX 1080) is lagging from time to time having to render my current city. I did check the ram usage. The game itself used about 4GB. I was actually expecting the game to use more. Maybe I will try and add more in-game objects to see what happens.

Oh, there is a new upcoming DLC/expansion pack call Green Cities for the game. I can’t wait for it to come out. I have seen the gameplay demo on YouTube, and I’m excited by the new assets and gameplay changes.

Check the video out below.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Journal #156 – Tired Saturday

It’s one of those weekends that saw me waking up feeling extremely tired despite having what I believe to be a decent night sleep.

I went about with my morning routine and I found myself not wanting to do anything at all. Knowing that’s not how my day should go, I decided to power on my desktop and play some games. The game I chose to play was Sniper Elite 4.

I managed to finish the remaining two missions of the single player campaign by about noon. Or was it much later? I couldn’t remember.

But I do remember feeling extremely exhausted and depressed at around 1400hrs. I suspect it had to do with the fact that I’m extremely hungry. So I went to eat a banana and then decided to play Watch Dogs 2. Half way through, the game crashed because of the display driver. Ever since I got the game, the game always caused the display driver to crash. I had since given up on trying to fix it. It’s not my problem. And since this game is considered quite old, I don’t really care about it anymore.

The exhaustion reached a point where I decided to take a nap, or at least tried to. But couldn’t fall asleep. Then my mom went to get me lunch at around 1530hrs. I ate that and tried to go back to sleep again. Still can’t sleep but I did felt better.

At around 1700hrs, I decided to go for a run but it was a painful one. My knees were hurting and then I had to deal with the toxic fumes from the cars and the irresponsible, selfish smokers along my run path. I kept coughing and felt sick. Cut it short at 6km and went home. Had a shower, watched some YouTube video on my iPad Pro and went out for dinner with my family at Jurong Point.

Walked around for a bit and they got some stuff. Half way through, I got so bored and tired. I went and listen to The Minimalists podcast.

We made our way home at around 2200hrs and here I am. I’m just waiting for my friend to call me or when he’s free to pick up. Whichever comes first.

Journal #155 – Friday

If you have read my journal entry yesterday, well, you would see me ranting. And no, I’m not going to apologize for rantings or having that outburst.

The purpose of this blog is after all a platform for me to express myself and do my writing for the public to read.

With it being a Friday, my mind was already on holiday mood. At work, I didn’t do much either. I wrote a few pieces of code to implement some kind of heartbeat mechanism for the client application.

Now, because I am so burnt out from working as a software developer, I don’t really give a shit about the quality of my code. I admit it’s bad, unprofessional but I am really struggling to make it work. I would love to take a long break but didn’t have enough money. And also, it’s not practical in Singapore because of the culture here.

Anyway, later in the afternoon at work, there was a division meeting. Then, there was a division BBQ which I didn’t want to attend. The place alone was already sucking all my energy out, I didn’t want to stay there. That was why I personally hated working for big corporations. So I made my home straight, walking to the train station with a colleague.

I watched a video by Simon Sinek.

I love his energy. The passion that goes with that speech. I’m impressed.

Anyway, I will try and regain my energy back by resting up.

Here I conclude my journal for today.