Monday, March 28, 2005

Back to School

In consulting parlance, going to school meant heading for training. Not just any training, mind you, but training at corporate headquarters, country retreat (whatever the big time consulting outfit so chooses to call it).

I'm going to school. Actually, I might go to school, and the probability of that happening is quite high.

Fingers crossed - school means Chicago. Chicago means trip abroad. Trip abroad means... something like a paid holiday I suppose.

Fingers crossed.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Which of the Endless are you?

Try this neat site (its a Sandman fan site) to determine which of the Endless you are:

Which of the Endless are you?

2 Sides to a Coin

If you've ever read any of the Sandman comics, you should be familiar with the characters Dream, Delirium and Destruction and the graphic novel 'Sandman - Brief Lives'. In Brief Lives, the climax of the story was when Destruction explains to Dream certain profound truths about existence and life. He makes the point that all lives are brief, and our time on this world is limited. Our experiences in this world are a yin-yang kind of duality - nothing exists absolutely as itself alone.

It is kind of obvious sometimes - whenever there is light, we do not see darkness. Where there is a fire, I do not feel cold. Our descriptions of our experiences and the entities around us all have dual, exclusive properties - when something is hot, it is not cold. When I can see, it is not dark. Thus, there are 2 sides to every coin, for every experience will have its opposite.

There is certainly something else other than extremes, what we have always termed shades of grey, probabilities, fuzzy logic. Imagine all experiences of temperature to range from cold to hot. Somewhere in between these two we experience warm, lukewarm, freezing, draughty, sweltering etc. The fuzzy logicist will argue that experiences do not come in extremes - there are all these grey areas where our true experiences lie.

Truth is, it is the binary that helps us define the grey areas in life. The world can certainly be experienced in its full splendour - however, we find ourselves lacking the words to describe it, if all we have at our disposal was '1' vs '0', 'hot' vs 'cold', 'near' vs 'far'.

'How far?'

'How hot?'

So we invent words to fill the gaps (to speak of the 'in between' as a gap is misleading, but thats another discussion). We have words such as 'mildly', 'somewhat', 'extremely', 'very', things which in English we call adjectives. Very useful little toys these - speakers of English pepper their dialogues freely with such descriptives, and the world of language is enriched as a result.

But. But that does not detract from what I am trying to say - there are 2 sides to a coin. Learn to see that every experience (or issue, or encounter, or entity, or any other) has its dual. Always consider that there is another side to a story, where the presence of something is the absence of another, like day and night, heads and tails.


Hmm, I've rambled again - I take escape in letting my thoughts go wherever the ideas flow. Sometimes what I think makes sense. Sometimes... well, the above gets ejected. Its a kind of pseudo-babble that we all think in our heads, but never actually say out.

You know, it is really easier if I just talk about my life. There is not much going on it though, so it should be fairly straightforward, if not boring, to put it down in a blog. It is, after all, a kind of diary. Haha, in time to come, this word -- diary -- is going to go the way of the dodo. Few people write in a diary nowadays - they just blog it. So much easier (and faster) for one to type one's thoughts out than to ponder the mundane over pen and paper.

Think about what lasts - thought, or paper. The blog is thought. It is nothing more than a stream of '1's and '0's, tacitly contained using electronic means in a machine. One day, it will go.

Also, nothing beats having handwriting - it is kind of unique, can be tacked to the writer (unlike a blog), and the sight of ink on paper is not replicable (how do you replicate the kind of freedom of form you can have with pen and paper?). Sure, there are your stylus and pad hardware. But even these distil into '1's and '0's, and no screen resolution ever has the same fluidity.

I am a low tech person at heart - what an irony it is that I now pen all my thoughts through blogs.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Action Speaks...

... louder than words, or so I'm told. 2 things I've noticed about myself recently seem to accentuate this catechism.

Recently, as some associates have noticed, I've stopped wearing glasses. Somehow I wish I can wear glasses again because vision is hazy, point light sources appear blobbish et al. However, that's not going to happen for a while. What I'm trying to say here is that I've taken the bold step of having my eyes LASIKed.

Ok, so that is not exactly a momentous decision, but hey, up until last Thursday, it was only an idea I entertained. I've always thought about the day where I achieve perfect eyesight - no groping for spectacles after getting up from bed, none of that fumbling with shampoo and soap when showering, no more... I can really go on, but what for?

The crux of the matter is, I've finally realised an objective which I've only so far thought about. Its good to think over things, work on ideas, and analyse a situation in all its intricacies. But an idea / thought / objective remains what it is - erm, an idea / thought / objective. One really needs that something extra - the action. Thus its true - action does speak louder than words.

However, one must give 'thought' the merit its due. Without careful thought, its hard to make a rational decision. You should be able to recall those times where a rash decision was made without due process, only to realise, in the post-mortem, that some things should have been thought out first. Also, careful planning is required in certain cases - how is one supposed to act in a coordinated manner without planning a course of action?

So, it is important to think things through. But it is also important not to be locked down in analysis paralysis. Seek a balance between the two and you'll find life moving in a more firm, decisive direction; one that's tempered with sound judgement, gut feel, whatever you wish to call it.

Oh yes, I did mention there were 2 things. The second thing I've taken a decision on is to do an MBA. The real problem with this is that, unlike the previous idea, it is very complex. There is so much information and misinformation out in the Internet. Competition among schools are fierce and intense, with them all seeking to woo the student dollar. Cost and living expenses are also major variables in the calculation.

So much to think about that one can be swamped in details, mucked up in the minutiae. I've come to think that one should just focus - I need to keep asking myself: 'What is key? What is most important as a consideration?'

Action speaks - but does it speak for me?

Monday, March 14, 2005

What's a life worth

If you've seen the movie Constantine, you'll probably remember that the Rachel Weisz character (Isabel I think?) has a twin sister. This twin took her own life and promptly went to Hell. According to Catholic doctrine, committing suicide is such a big sin that you're sent to Hell immediately.

What is the rationale behind this school of thought? Here, I'd like to give my take on this. I think that we are not supposed to take our own lives because our bodies are meant to be a temple to God. To wilfully destroy this temple is such sacrilege that there can be no bigger sin. Each one of us, after all, is God's creation. And we give Him praise through our actions and deeds. Killing oneself goes against all tenets of this belief.

Personally though, I don't entirely subscribe to this form of thinking. Remember that there is no 'hierarchy' of sins - sins are just sins, and if taking your life is a sin, it is no greater a sin than theft or murder is. What is so unpardonable about committing suicide that one should be condemned to eternal damnation? Even murderers on death row have a chance at redemption. Side note: it is kind of hard to redeem yourself while you're still alive if your sin is suicide, don't you think?

I do agree on one point though: we won't be alive in the first place if not for God. He's the reason we exist. Thus, we are accountable to some degree for how we've lived our lives. Our time on this Earth is but training for eternity, and it is imperative that we live it to its fullest. To take one's life is to rebuke this opportunity. It is not a short cut to the after-life - it is chickening out of a responsibility in its worst form. God will ultimately hand judgement on such individuals, be it damnation or bliss.

A reservist friend of mine said it best - there's nothing in life that is insolvable. Depression can drive us to do the unimaginable, but there is always help somewhere.


By the way, as a Christian, I'm (more or less) of certain Judeo-Christian inclinations regarding life, death, God and the after-life. Feel free to express other views of the issue. I don't think I'm done expressing what I think though. More opinions later...

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Writing an Essay of a post

Inspired by Foccacia, I've decided to do a blog of my own. Here I am!

The problem is that I have little to say. Its not that I have nothing to say - its just that I have not really thought about what I want to post. Seriously though, I am from the school that thinks that every post should be well thought out. Somewhat like GP essays or those essays which I wrote for my GMAT test.

They go something like this - start by taking a position on an issue. "For", "Against" or "Damn, I don't really know but let me digress". Then, come up with 3 points which support your argument or basically provide information in relation to your topic. Ideally, this comes nicely packaged in 3 paragraphs which 'flow' naturally into one another. Lastly, sum it all up in a summary kind of paragraph.

It is kind of boring, predictable writing. But I'm told that it is succinct and clear that way.


In other news, I'm finally going for a LASIK operation. (At the moment, I've told no one about this blog, so nobody should really care right now. Still...) It will take place tomorrow on my left/right eye. And then, on Friday, the nice fellows at the Eye Centre will do my right/left eye. It has always intrigued me what LASIK patients do with themselves in between the 2 operations.

Look at it this way (haha...), you have one good eye and one bad eye for about 24 hours. Do you:

  1. Cover up the bad eye and use the good eye to see?
  2. Cover up the good eye and use the bad eye, coupled with your soon-to-be-defunct glasses, to see?
  3. Close both eyes and be a blind man for a day?

Personally, I'll go with option 3 - far easier to be Ray Charles than Captain Hook I feel. I even bought the sunglasses.

I'll see the world through new eyes soon.