“Never give in, never, never, never–never, in nothing, great or small, large or petty. Never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” - Churchill Persistence is a virtue, except when it isn’t - there is some amount of good sense necessary to discern when one should just give in. As in most things, a balance is required. Unfortunately, good sense is not always in abundance in today’s world.
A friend messaged me a while back asking for advice as he was going to be a first time project manager. I don’t identify as a project manager (even though I have done quite a bit of project management work), so I didn’t really have much to say. But I did meet up with a project manager friend later on and asked her if she had any tips. And she told me that one of the best tips she could give was one that I myself told her a long time ago:
My earliest memories of Holy Week are my grandmother telling us about how solemn the days off were supposed to be and that we kids were supposed to be quiet and not make so much noise and not be playing around so much. That, and the only thing being available on TV being The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brenner. In the early 2000s, what we often watched were the marathon episodes of Seventh Heaven shown on Studio 23 (the actor for the dad/pastor in that show later on confessed to being involved in a child molestation scandal, ironically.
No, not the TMNT villain or the kitchen utensil. Some years back I jokingly put “a shredder” on a Secret Santa wishlist, which I knew was way outside the roughly $10 range that locals usually set for Secret Santa gifts. I put a lot of other options on (usually food stuff like quezo de bola or Spam), so I wasn’t expecting to actually get a shredder. But I did! It might be a bit weird to have a shredder at home, but I find it useful (occasionally).
There are two kinds of tasks you get done: there are the tasks that you just want to get over with, the ones you only do because you basically have to do or face more dire consequences later. An example going to the dentist. (Nobody enjoys going to the dentist right?) You can’t just put it off forever, so you just want to get it done as fast as possible.
I’ve been diagnosed as hypertensive for fourteen years now, so I’ve been taking these maintenance meds every morning. I’m terrible at it, mostly due to forgetfulness, so I often miss some days. Just this morning, I was watching a Parks and Recreation 10th Anniversary Reunion panel after coming back upstairs from breakfast, and I saw the meds on my desk and I was like “I should take my meds now. Wait, have I already taken my meds?
“It is necessary to be lost. There is a simple logic to this. You cannot find yourself without first being lost. You cannot catch what you do not drop. You have to open your fist and let what you are clenching fall.” — Cary Tennis @ Salon via karigee
Another repost from my Quora answers. Back in 2016 when I was on a work hiatus, I answered a lot of “how to live” questions on Quora, this is one of them. How can I find my interests in life? Look everywhere. Try everything. Life is varied and has a wider scope than you could possibly imagine. Step outside your comfort zone. Visit new places. Sign up for strange classes.
There is plenty of advice about how living a life of gratitude can lead to happiness. And that’s fine, gratitude and thankfulness are good traits to have. But in addition to gratitude, I would recommend wonder. That is, seek out wonder in your life. Put yourself into situations where there’s a good chance of wonder, awe, or amazement. Seek out things that amaze you and make you go “Woah!” You won’t always succeed, but that’s okay, the moments when you do will be worth it.
I worry about a lot of things. Recently with the planning for the US trip, the worry that comes to mind is financial: this trip is expensive, should I be cutting back? Can I afford this Airbnb? Can I afford going to Disneyland with my nieces? etc. All this worrying is silly of course. I already know I can well afford the trip, but the fact that it’s so expensive triggers the spendthrift in me to worry that I might be spending too much and I might be on a slippery slope to financial ruin.
If I could send one message back to my young teenage self it would be “take care of your teeth.” Okay, that’s not true, the first two options would most probably be “buy Apple stocks before 2007” and “get as much Bitcoin as you can before it’s worth $10”. But the teeth thing is really important, it’s most probably up there somewhere in the top five. I don’t have a good record of taking care of my teeth.
Daily news reading is a habit I inherited from my father, who tends to read the morning newspaper at the dining table during breakfast every morning and most other meals as well, even to this day. Some would say a bad habit, especially when among company. These days my morning newspaper consists mostly of Flipboard articles, then the local newspaper during lunch and dinner if I am at home. Aside from mealtime readings, I also regularly take breaks to check what is going on in social media and my RSS reader.
“Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the “normal people” as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh?
The concept of a “meritocracy” has come to the fore again with the recent college admissions scandal in the US, where wealthy parents bribed coaches and other professionals to get their kids into high-end universities with supposedly high standards. It’s put a lie to the idea that the students of these universities represent the “cream of the crop” or “the best of the best”, showing that kids can get in not only due to their own talent, but also due to money.
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway
Another repost from my Quora answers, this time some info for anyone looking to move into programming. How much of what we learn in school helps us in real life? The stuff school teaches you - literature, mathematics, art, history, science, and so on - are intended to give you a broad enough base from which you can freely choose the direction you want to go in life. This means that as you specialize, many of these subjects may become “irrelevant” to you, but having this broad base of knowledge gives you a better foundation in life.
“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” - E.B. White I am fortunate that with my flexible working schedule I get to choose whether to derp around or to be productive every day.
I read this tweet from @GaryGulman, a standup comic who gives out tips for comedy writers: 70) Today, put together a list of the most embarrassing moments in your life. Take one or two and write them out in detail. Next time you’re in front of a warm crowd, work on telling the story. #GulManTip #WriteNow — (((GARY GULMAN))) (@GaryGulman) March 11, 2019 Today, put together a list of the most embarrassing moments in your life.
I posted the other day about trying to get back into the habit of early morning walks. Unfortunately, I failed to continue that habit the very next day (hopefully I’m able to succeed on upcoming days). The main reason I failed is that I was unable to sleep early on the preceeding night. My sleep cycle is horribly irregular, given my flexible working hours. I tend to be easily tempted to take naps at odd hours.
Our instinct tells us to fear the unknowns, especially the ones that loom large in our imagination. The bigger the unknown, the more fear and uncertainty it generates, and in some cases it can lead us to paralysis and inability to move forward. Most often, the only way to conquer these unknown obstacles is to face them head on. Study them, attack them, break them apart, until you understand what they are.
Image source: r/GetMotivated It’s fun to think about what might have been, but often regret is tinged with optimism - the optimism that given another chance, we might have made different decisions and obtained better outcomes. But different doesn’t always mean better, so such visualizations are often pointless speculation.
Sometimes you just come up short. You try to work your brain but it always comes up dry. It happens, even to the best of us. There’s no shame in failure or in defeat. It’s only human. We can’t be at our best all the time, otherwise it’s not our best. What’s important is you pick yourself up and try again the next day. Tomorrow, we can do better.
“Whatever doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.” Nietzche I liked this quote a lot when I was younger and more gung-ho, especially about things like work. In fact, I may have considered it as a bit of a defining quote back then. I guess the idea was ‘ok, we’ll rush in and try anything, at worst we learn a lesson and be better for next time’.
The popular adage is that on your deathbed, you would not be regretting not having worked more. I think about this often, especially when there are people trying to convince me that I should do this work or that, because they have no one else to turn to or something or the work desperately needs to be done. It seems that there’s always work that desperately needs to be done, but if you look at it closely the consequences are rarely that life-altering.
I have my share of sleeping problems, but it gets slightly worse when I’m sleeping on a new, strange, unfamiliar bed. It always takes me some time to adjust to any new trappings, and I almost always expect on my first few nights at a new place that I won’t get the correct amount of sleep or be awake at the proper times. I wonder if there is some primordial instinct that causes us to be wary of unfamiliar sleeping arrangements, granting (against our will) heightened awareness in case of predators.
“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.” ― John Greenleaf Whittier, Maud Muller - Pamphlet It is human nature perhaps, to think about those alternate realities that might have come from different decisions or different dispositions. If only I was braver. If only I was more decisive. If only I didn’t have something holding me back. If only I knew what I knew now.
“None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an after-thought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.” — Keanu Reeves via swissmiss
For my first few years in elementary school, I didn’t get any pocket money. Instead I’d have a couple of sandwiches and a thermos of water. So I wasn’t used to handling money. One time while waiting for the school bus, I was a bit thirsty but my thermos was already out. For some reason, I decided to borrow five pesos from a classmate to buy a coke from the canteen.
It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: And this, too, shall pass away. How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride!how consoling in the depth of affliction! - Abraham Lincoln More quotes! I like ones that have a level of ambiguity, a meaning that changes depending on situation.
I love sleeping. And taking naps. But I’m not very good at doing it at night. Insomnia is a common problem for me. I often find it difficult to go to sleep at night, taking upwards of 1-2 hours in bed before I can manage to fall asleep. Of course all that time lying there feels unproductive, so I’ll often be tempted to to grab a nearby screen and read something online or such, which makes it even harder to get to sleep.
I used to be super easy to goad into a debate. It’s a clear weakness to my projected DGAF attitude actually. Well, the main thing is that I enjoy lively discussion, even though it can often lead into chaos. I soured a bit on online debate during the 2016 election season though. Too many people I knew getting butthurt or reacting poorly. Someone I knew since high school unfriended me over some imagined slight even.
Today is Chinese New Year. It’s something my family celebrates. I am of course, ethnically Chinese, but I don’t talk about it much. When asked, I will often reply that I identify as a Filipino, not as Chinese (maybe slightly more relevant these days given our disagreement with our largely populated neighboring country). I don’t reject the heritage or anything - but I’m not particularly steeped in it either. I don’t speak the language (beyond a few token phrases).
I saw the following question on Twitter: People who write a lot of blogposts… How do you know a post is done? — Andreas Klinger ✌️ (@andreasklinger) February 2, 2019 “People who write a lot of blogposts… How do you know when a post is done?” Having written daily posts since October, I feel like I already qualify for “People who write a lot of blogposts”, but I realized I don’t have a straight answer aside from “When I run out of things to say”.
Sometimes I stop and think and I’m amazed at how much trust we place in our fellow human beings, many of them strangers, enough so that society is able to function. Some examples of what I mean: My mom pays for thousands of pesos worth of groceries and doesn’t bother going through the receipt to make sure the cashier punched in the right items We order food in restaurants that is cooked and prepared outside of our view and trust that they are prepared appropriately and with proper regard for health standards I take naps in a taxi cab assuming the driver won’t take me to a secluded location and try to rob me We cross the street trusting that drivers are sensible people who won’t blow past traffic lights and suddenly careen towards us We go to work and trust that our coworkers will do their thing and our work will get done and the company is going to pay us We order stuff online and assume that the order will be fulfilled All of this, in spite of the fact that we know there are humans who exist who are incompetent, unreliable, or even downright malicious or sociopathic.
Quote 1: “The world isn’t fair Calvin” “I know Dad, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?” – Bill Watterson, “Calvin and Hobbes” Quote 2: “If you expect the world to be fair with you because you’re fair to them, its like asking a lion not to eat you because you don’t eat lions.” (Unknown source) We accept that the natural order of the world is inherently unfair.
Sometimes I see posts like this: and I can’t help but feel like it’s at least a little bit applicable to me. And I start to wonder whether maybe I’m suffering depression? Or maybe just a little depressed? The question only lasts in my head for a moment. Despite my sometimes bleak outlook for humanity, I still consider myself a largely optimistic person and I understand life is generally good for me at least (at the moment).
One of my pet peeves is people coming up to me cold/unsolicited and trying to sell me things: People who try to grab your attention or hand you fliers in a mall are the popup ads of real life — Roy Tang (@roytang) January 16, 2019 Like my tweet above says, it’s like advertising spam in real life. I’m sure it bothers other people too, but it annoys me a bit disproportionately.
Last week I was able to tick an item off my bucket list: I played chess in the park with strangers! (Yes, my bucket list items are that level lol) Achievement unlocked: play chess in the park with strangers (and lose badly) — Roy Tang (@roytang) January 15, 2019 When watching TV/movies, I was always fascinated by those scenes where people are in the park playing chess and I wanted to play chess in the park with strangers too.
Sipunin, from the root word “sipon”, referring to the common cold. It refers to someone who is susceptible to and often has the common cold. Certainly applicable to me. For as long as I can remember I’ve always had the cold all the time, especially during the earlier and later months of the year. (I’m sure selective memory lets me forget all those days that my nose was actually not clogged…)
Gift giving is something I’m quite bad at. Okay wait, that’s not accurate. I’m fine with the gift giving. The real problem I have with is gift-buying. I’m not good at buying gifts for other people. The main problem I guess is that I’m not good at buying things in general, unless those are things that are of particular interest to me. And since my interests are a bit niche, there tends to be not much overlap with what gifts I think other people will appreciate.
A Nobel Prize-winning psychologist says most people don’t really want to be happy Interesting article, a quote: Kahneman argues that satisfaction is based mostly on comparisons. “Life satisfaction is connected to a large degree to social yardsticks–achieving goals, meeting expectations.” While I guess this is largely true for society as a whole, it’s something I try to avoid for myself, since comparison is the thief of joy. The article argues that satisfaction is different from happiness, which is fleeting.
I’m a fan of unpredictability and randomness, and I easily get bored with regularity, repetitiveness or consistency. I once articulated this as a life philosophy to a friend - that I preferred a life with periods of highs and lows, like a sine wave, instead of a simple and boring flat line. This is why I often enjoy games like Scrabble or MTG. Basically competitive skill-intensive games that still have a significant element of random chance, so that the games while interesting, almost never play out the same way.
It can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the stimuli that the modern world provides us. There’s a seemingly endless stream of problems to be overcome, bad news to be angry about, movies to watch, tv shows to binge, games to play, books to read, pictures to share, gossip to be had, new things to learn, challenges to be faced, and so on. And with all of these comes the pressure to make the most of your time, to make sure it isn’t “wasted”.
When another person expects something from you by a certain date, be it a meeting, or a debt to repay, or a work-related submission or something else, and you are unable to provide it by the agreed upon time, you owe it to that person to tell him you can’t make it, explain why, and provide a plan for moving forward. It’s a basic courtesy. If you made an appointment to meet at a certain time and place, and it looks you’re not going to be able to go, message the other party and tell them.
Last week I looked into sentiment analysis, basically it means analyzing text to find out whether it’s “feel good” or “feel bad”. My idea was to use this to analyze my public posts (specifically, on Twitter), to see whether I was trending towards being more positive or more negative. Unfortunately, when I tabulated the data, it was unexciting. No discernable trend of any kind, no plateaus signalling times of stability. Just wild swinging ups and downs as you’d expect from a normal, well-adjusted person.
The other day I wrote about how I’ve been walking on a regular basis recently. While the regularity and the tracking are fairly recent, I’m actually not that much of a stranger to walking as an activity. Even back when I was in high school I would often walk all the way home instead of taking the bus-and-jeep commute route I was supposed to take. It didn’t take that much longer, and I often enjoyed the solace (and I got to save a bit of money, even as a child I was quite frugal~).
It’s December the 1st, there’s this image I often share on this day: It’s a really stupid pun that I won’t explain (but it maybe only works in a Filipino accent.) I love puns! The best puns are so terrible and so great at the same time. Puns are like a tiny puzzle that your brain has to solve and when you do solve them, your brain has that tiny flash of “A-ha!
These days the only real exercise I get comes in the form of daily walks. When I took a work hiatus in 2016, it was one of the daily habits I promised myself I would pick up. During that time, I wanted to hit the often-recommended daily target of 10,000 steps per day. (Tangent: I found out while writing this post that this number may have no scientific basis after all)
With the rise of social media, we get to see a lot of things our friends are doing or buying or places they’re going to, and this has led to the rise of the phenomenon called FOMO or Fear of Missing Out. It’s a type of envy of other people’s lives and as a type of envy it’s also a form of regret for our own life choices. FOMO is rightly called a fear, and like all irrational fears, it should be dismissed as soon as one recognizes it.
The most efficient way to find something you like is to identify it, figure out where to find it, then go find it. This is why we have search engines and indexes and maps. This is why bookstores and groceries and department stores try to sort their wares into logical arrangements, to facilitate this efficient search. Not everything needs to be efficient however. There’s something to be said for exploration - browsing, meandering, walking down new paths, and so on.