Saturday, 10 March 2018

John Legend

The year is 2004. It's the year that I hear about John Legend. The Get Lifted LP was on repeat. I had the Ordinary People sheet music and was trying to learn how to play it on keyboard. The first time I saw him perform live was at Metro Theatre on George Street. He performed to a small, intimate, 300 plus crowd. The crowd sang along to the majority of his songs. He was of course an up-and-comer at the time with a smaller discography.

Fourteen years later, he's performing in Hong Kong. I'm always apprehensive about Hong Kong concerts. Majority of the crowds (in my experience) are at these events to say that they were at the event versus being there for the music. Dilettantes of culture, as opposed to fans of the artist. Or perhaps things are just different in Hong Kong. The irony is, I had stopped listening to his music and wasn't familiar with his latest work. I am part of the problem.

My plus one had been hospitalised and an SOS was sent out by a friend to find me a last minute plus one. Mr Stephens still puts on a show, he belted out his big hits, dipped heavily into Get Lifted and the songs he collaborated on as well as the off cover. The last minute plus-one knew the lyrics and it was one of the better concerts I've been to in recent times. The man still knows how to put on a show!

"How can I blame you; For taking over my daydreams?" - John Legend

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Lessons in Mindfulness

The tenant of mindfulness is that it can be applied to the most benign activities: Walking, brushing your teeth, even eating. Today, as I ate at my desk, I accidentally bit a fork and chipped my front tooth. The sound was jarring and my desk was littered with small fragments of tooth.

The dentist charged me 400 USD to have it patched up. Note, biting a fork while eating a salad is not a practise in mindfulness.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Semester 2: Greener Grass

Fourier series, integration, imaginary numbers, convolution, directed graphs, mathematical expectations. There was a time in my life where that all made sense to me. The frustrating thing is that I used to know how to do this; it's the opposite of riding a bike, you do forget, and forgetting and re-learning almost feels like a waste of time.

Oddly enough, in between semesters I was looking forward to hitting the books. Now that I have started, I'm looking forward to the semester break. The grass is always greener. No coincidence that my sleep is starting to play up again...

Currently reading: "Nexus"

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Singapore Stag

I've always had an affinity with Singapore. For one, I have no problem sitting in a hawker centre, pushing the physical boundaries of my stomach. Two, everybody know somebody who lives in Singapore, it is incredibly easy to meet up for a coffee or a meal. Three, deep down it reminds me of Malaysia, a polished, cannot-lah version with an awesome airport and arguably the most talkative cab drivers in the world.

This weekend's occasion was a Bachelor Party. Singapore isn't the first destination you think of when you think South-East Asia Destination Stag Party. It was however, the only weekend the groom-to-be was available. I'm close to the bride, and by association had become close to the groom. In total, two of us flew from Hong Kong to Singapore. We stayed with a couple who now called Singapore home. They had just moved into a huge 3 bedroom apartment in Orchard. All things considered, their life seems idyllic - Married, both have successful careers, enjoying life abroad.

The stag was a fairly civil affair. The father of the stag happened to be in town and came along for the ride. Go-karting, Pool, Dinner in the Quay, Karaoke, copious amounts of alcohol, capped off with some late night Thai. So, this is Singapore life?

Monday, 5 February 2018

Saying yes more, saying no more

This post just won't come out. Thoughts. Words. Incongruity. Our actions are invariably driven by two voices. The internal voice that aligns with our actual wants and expectations. The external voice that we perceive as what society expects from us. Ultimately it comes down to behaving in a way that is organic, or behaving in a way that we are expected to behave.

One of my things for 2018 is being conscious of saying yes more, but also saying no more. The difficulty is finding that sweet spot between doing something because you really want to do it versus doing something because you think you should be doing it.

"Hey, I'll be in Tokyo this weekend, come along". My mind flashes to Sushi. Winter. Onsen. Ramen. Sleep.  Japan always refocuses me. The culture appears so polished and polite. There's a delicacy and respect that is so profound.

The most menial tasks are conducted with so much pride and emphasis, from being greeted upon arrival at a restaurant or being bowed at when you enter a toilet. Are they behaving in a way that they want to, or how society expects them to?

Currently reading: "The Golden Compass"

Sunday, 31 December 2017

The New Year's Expectations

There's only a few more hours left of 2017. I don't remember the last time I was at home during New Years Eve. I sit on the sofa, the TV is on with a live broadcast of the Sydney Harbour countdown. Dad is on his laptop and mom is on her iPad. My attention drifts between what's on the TV, what's on my Kindle and this situation. I try to remember the last time I was at home on the 31st of December; it has to be at least 20 years.

Dad is grumbling about Cockatoo Island, I can see mom has tuned out to his rant. I too. I think about the year that passed and my expectations vs what was actually realised. Resolutions vs Expectations; is there a difference? Both, can be measured, both can be managed.

Tim Ferriss uses an exercise to break down the year into the activities and events that accounted for either: 1) peak positive emotional states, or 2) peak negative emotional states. I come up with the following buckets

  • Work
  • Further Education - Masters
  • Travel
  • Family
  • Relationships
  • Yoga
  • Further Education - Masters
  • Relationships

Ideally, 2018 should have more yoga/meditation, be more present and a lot more selfish. The next twelve month should have less social media, less over-thinking and less aloofness. Or maybe, just none of the above ...

"Well the last plane out of Sydney's almost gone; You know there's seven flying hours, and I'll be landing in Hong Kong; and there ain't nothing like the kisses; From a jaded Chinese Princess; I'm gonna hit some Hong Kong mattress all night long" - Cold Chisel

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Xmas 2017

Third Christmas that I've now been back for. It's insane that I went through a phase where in the past, I had "better things to do" during this time of the year. Although to be fair, the return trip to Sydney was fairly cost prohibitive in my younger years.

This year's Christmas would be a little different. For years, and I mean years. Christmas has always been held in the Southern Sydney Suburb of Blakehurst. This year, however the aunt that usually hosts the Christmas event had serious operation. Fortunately, another aunt picked up the baton and Christmas Eve festivities would take place in Menai. Christmas Eve always has two fundamental rules: Mountains (seriously) of food and the countdown to midnight, followed by unwrapping of presents.

Currently reading: "Radical Acceptance" - Tara Brach