31 December 2008

Year End Escapades

The end of the year is always a mixed bag and way too fast a way to close the year for me. But like all boring people who aren't out there screaming a countdown and drinking their livers to poop, I'm blogging. Ok, I've got a glass of wine in one hand... but that doesn't count.

The fest-acti-vities begin with Christmas. (Christmas Eve panic shopping to be exact.) A drive to the serene rubber-estate-cum-kampung for a mega Eve bash with the Kong family, their inlaws, outlaws, grandkids and other farm animals. Then comes Christmas day dinner with my family. A short respite in between and then it's wife's birthday (29th) and the curtain drops on the 31st.

I've learnt that panic shopping lands you up with crummy gifts. By crummy I mean you feel really crappy when you open up your presents and find expensive fragrances and such and you remember that you gave them a shower radio or picture frame. I tried to make up for the injustice by treating my family to Dim Sum on Boxing Day.

Christmas Eve

The festivities in the outback of Kuala Sawah on Eve never ceases to impress me. It's always phenomenal - the amount of food, the number of people and the family dynamics. In that order. This year there was so much food I was hoping all the poor and homeless of Seremban would show up; and even then there'd be food to spare. People did stream in till late night, some in their BMWs and Mercedes negotiating tight estate dirt-lanes. And the family, oh my - there's the multilingual pastor-uncle who leads a service, an octagenarian great-grandma who puts the fear of God in all things alive, the 50-something aunt who cycles up mountains for fun and bakes up cakes to live and die for, and the uncle who roasts turkeys... just to name a few stellar characters.

Christmas day

We slept in and crept into the Nepalese service instead of our regular English one. I'm glad we did. We didn't understand a word, but that was not the point. It was celebrating in a way that encapsulated the spirit of Christmas in the most poignant way. Here we were, three Chinamen in the back of a hall of strapping Nepalese men (with odors to match, I might add), feeling altogether foreign. And they were singing beautiful hymns and carols in a language I didn't understand about a God who did understand all human flesh and its faltering attempts to reach Him; about a baby born to live the life we couldn't live; and about the man who died that we would not. Jesus showed us true empathy - entering into another's experiential world fully and sensitively; living our lives, dying our deaths. And I got to taste a tiny bit of the spirit of that empathy for the briefest moment.

Boxing day?
The Yaps basically hunched and slouched around a feast of Dim Sum, gorging dumplings, slurping tea, reminiscing everything from Castlewolfenstein (a PC game which me and my brother spent disproportionate amounts of our childhood on) to I can't remember what.. I was drunk on tea.

Wife's birthday.
Now this is when the stress hormones work overtime. Getting this one day wrong is the beginning of a year of misery. Having a wife who works shifts and gets her weekly roster on Sunday (when her birthday is Monday) DOES NOT HELP. And when you've got a barely-2-yr-old whose meals and baths need to be planned down to the ounce - it's a disaster until proven otherwise. But GOD was smiling on me this time. From the moment I got confirmation of Monday & Tuesday off, I got to work, and things just miraculously fell into place. Online booking for hotel & spa package - click click click done. Call to mom for babysitting - dial, beg, done. Plan itinerary and cover story. Done.

Come the morning, we dropped off Ethan at mom's and he gleefully bade us go and have fun. Didn't she say she wanted to shop at Isetan? So to KLCC we went. Oh, you don't need me to hang around and rather I bugger off to look at gadgets? Meet you in an hour? Great!! In that one hour I sprinted off to Impiana, checked in, got a top-floor room to get a view of KLCC park, confirmed the spa booking, ran back to the KLCC, got flowers.. all in the knick of time. Ring ring.. where shall I meet you? How about Sundanese food darling? Sprint sprint.. hide flowers under the chair, stop panting. In walks the love of my life, I pull her a chair and spring the lilies on her. A symbol of your feminine sexuality, I proudly declare (I got that off Google while crossing the road!) OK.. let's go somewhere else now. As we pulled out of KLCC and onto Jln Pinang (which is where Impiana is), I exclaim, OH NO, I left something at KLCC!! I gotta turn back! And swerve into the hotel car park. It took her all of 20 seconds before she realised that's where we were going to stay.. Well, it was worth the short suspense. The room was cosy and sleek. The massage sensuously amazing (a Balinese massage better than what we got in Bali, to be honest.) And the horizon pool perched over the city with the towers in full view, breathtaking. She was thrilled to bits. 2009 is going to be glorious.

Well, today is New Year's Eve. For the first time in my life I can look back and say I achieved all my resolutions for 2008. And that's because this time last year I didn't make any save one: I resolved not to make any resolutions anymore. That's the secret formula to fulfilment by the way: F = A/E (where F= fulfilment, A= accomplishment, and E= expectation). When E --> 0, F --> infinity. INFINITE fulfilment! Genius no? Well, while the fireworks are banging off and beers are being consumed by the barrel, I'm thumping on my PC which will soon be decomissioned while my Mac is running BootCamp. I've got a Merlot smooth as silk in hand and my wife is cackling behind me reading Tony Parsons. It's a good life, she just planted me a kiss and we wished each other Happy New Year. It's been a mad year but I wouldn't trade it for anything else. Come 2009 - give me everything you've got!

20 December 2008

Mac Day 2

Sharp learning curve ahead.

First stop: how to network and share files between Mac and PC.

These links look promising:
My First Mac

Will report later on networking.

Next stop: All about Mac OS X

Looks like Wikipedia has got what I need.

Mac Day 1

It arrived in a lowly brown box, dumped on the gravel street, pebbles still stuck to the tape. DHL had no idea what magic they were carrying in their hands. It didn't take me long to pull it out of the box and less to place it on the table, plug in the power cable, keyboard and mouse. I looked a few times in the box - no installation CDs, no motherboard software, no driver CDs, not even a warranty card... Strange. Only two manuals - 'Everything Mac' and 'Everything Else'.

The first delicious thing about setting it up is that it is only ONE piece. No desktop, monitor and one hundred dangling cables and figuring out which goes where. No wifi card, bluetooth dongle, nothing. ONE single masterpiece.

The second thing is ripping off the clear plastic that wraps everything and unveiling the black reflective apple logos embedded on the silky white.

By the time finger hits ON button, my heart is already racing.

Moment of truth. Push. And the universe leaps off the monitor. Ok I'm exaggerating. It's some kind of nebula or something captured by Hubble and stars are dancing all over the place flashing WELCOME in 10 languages or more, I can't remember. I hit BACK a few times just to watch the video and feel this tingling sensation sweep over me.. Magic washing over. Ok ok..

Now comes the wildly impossible experience(s).

I'm asked to key in my email and password - the one I used to buy this product online! This machine had traveled across the globe (from HK apparently) to one master and one master ONLY. It didn't have to spend a month configuring it till it becomes specially mine. It was MINE before it even met me. It was made for me. It's one mission is to serve me. My address and phone number appears instantly and I'm asked if anything should be changed and if there are any other users.

Then I'm told to sit in front of the Mac while it takes a picture of me (with the built-in cam) to get a profile pic without me having to hunt it down from some ancient snapshot on a faraway vacation. Nay.. 1 day old Mac wants to get a good look at his master. Pic taken, identity confirmed, it unfolds itself...

I'm trembling here. What comes next? Will the exciting welcome end here and the head-banging, hair-pulling, bug-fixing, system-crashing nightmare begin? I'm a wounded victim of years of Windows-abuse you see.. please be gentle on me. Before I hit a key, a screen pops up. GASP! It says, WiFi signal detected. Choose your router. Key in the WEP. You're connected!! What the... Was that all? No Wifi configuration, no PPP dialup codes, no nothing?? No way...

The bluetooth icon is hovering temptingly above. I click it. Detect devices. Sony Ericsson P1i detected. Paired. Ok.. not bad. Hang on, what's that? 3G Modem detected - use it to connect to Internet? Hell YES!! Maxis, WAP, Unet, etc........ CONNECTED. Oh my Gooooddd.... The Mac figured out how to get online through my 3G phone without me even asking it to! What took weeks of configuring and failed connections with the PC, ploughing through Mobile Networking Wizard and m-Router configurations took the Mac a total of 1 minute. WITHOUT any guidance from ME. This is like driving a car without every having to open the bonnet while using a PC is like keeping a trunk full of tools, spare radiator tubings, jumper cables and a few extra spark plugs just in case.

OK. Look here, Mr Cocky Mac. If there's one thing that will make you my best friend forever, is that you can SYNC with my Sony Ericsson P1i. All the forums I've read out there say SEP1i and you just don't get along. Not that you're hostile but the SEP1i is just plain Mac-dumb. Now can you do it?? Start iSync (used the Help to find it). Device detected. Device not compatible. Ok... How about a little help here? Sony Ericsson's website seems to have a plugin available. Download. Installed automatically. iSync again (without rebooting 10 times). Sudden flurry of activity. Synchronising.. it says.. Can this be true? I've been fooled by this endless 'synchronising' spinaround that gets zilch result. The first few times I did it with the PC it took me 2 days, a few meals, a few walks in the park. Don't give me that rotating two-arrow sign. I will not be deceived... What's that? DONE? Whaddya mean done. All 2530 contacts and 190 calendar events downloaded?? NO WAY. NO %^*&#^($#^( WAY. This is when I shudder. This is when a get golfballs in my throat. This is when I want to break into tears... IT IS FINISHED?? In 2 minutes??

I shake my head in disbelief. My jaw drops like my masseters were mush. I stare at all 20inches of messianic magic. Words fail me. There aren't adequate analogies or symbols for this kind of an experience. How can I describe it? It's like being given the keys to a Cadillac after 20 years of riding a beatup Proton that needed to be brought into the workshop every week, whose air conditioning fails in the hot sun, and power windows jam sequentially. It's like being told you never have to look into the engine, you can take off your grease-covered rags and wash off that rust - it's time you drove a real car now. You deserve it.

And this is just DAY 1. I'm just scratching the surface. I'm just playing with the tip of the iceberg. I'm ready to be wowed. I'm looking forward to a life time of pleasurable machine usage and not heart-wrenching disillusionment. Mr Mac. Don't let me down.

Things I would like to do in the coming weeks/months:
1. Get PARALLEL and run Windows apps on the Mac (better than a PC does I hear!)
2. Catalog all my digital photos (6 years worth, some 100gb of it)
3. Get my KORG 01/W hooked up by MIDI and play some serious music along with GarageBand
4. Edit my home and medical videos with speed and style
5. Organise my MP3s on iTunes
6. Discover everything else I didn't even know I could do, and do all the things I never knew I should be doing!

Ahhh... the dawn of a new era for me.

19 December 2008

The Little Drummer Boy

Seeing that Ethan has got a real passion for rhythm, we couldn't resist getting him his first drum set.

Since then he's been experimenting various styles of banging, asks for his audience to sit and watch or sing along so he can beat.

Look at him go!

Now I wonder when I can get MY own drum set... What was that?? Sorry I'm a bit deaf.

Family Outing at MidValley

It's great when the whole family can get together and chill.

Our recent outing-pigout at MidValley and landed up stuffing our faces at Paddingtons.

Bali Videos

I've only recently had an uninterrupted connection to upload our holiday videos. Here they are:

30 September 2008

Bumbling about in Bali

Trip to Bali started on the wrong foot. We left all our packing to the last day and Ethan was snuffly all night making it very difficult. I went to bed at 2am and Joan probably at 4am, and we were on the road to LCCT at half-past six.

Day 1
From Bali

Flight was ok for Ethan, thanks to Actifed and Oxymetazoline. A one-hour delay getting our room was a slight dampener but the room itself wasn't bad though a little below our expectation after what we experienced in Chaweng Regent, Samui. We needed rest, so the entire afternoon we slept with Ethan. Going out to
From Bali
Kuta square was a jarring and disorientating culture shock for us - a mish-mash of branded stores, bars, boutiques and every kind of night-market hawking all crumpled into tight streets with motorbikes-a-zooming and touts-a-screaming. A compulsory horse-ride (ripoff 100,000rupiah) through Poppies Lane & Legian made it a little better and on spotting the legendary Made's Warung, we stopped for dinner. Large tuna in Balinese sauce, Gado-gado and Sate Babi redeemed the day for me though I had to fend off ferocious mosquitoes the whole time.

Day 2
We didn't sleep.. again. This time because of bed bugs!! Took three calls and half and hour at 2 o'clock in the morning for the hotel staff to change our sheets. Ethan was still snuffly and pukey, waking at least six times in the night. So day two was going to be NO TRAVEL. After mega breakfast (we eat for two meals) we headed off to Discovery Mall - no adventures for today, we thought. Intercepted by some tourism promo boys, we won a prize - t-shirts, free stay at Royal Bali and an island tour!! (I thought to myself - this is a conjob, Joan thought - this is a conjob, but what the heck... let's go see this hotel.) Man, were we conned... An hour of the most annoying and irrelevant sales talk which we had to practically shout to get out of at the end really botched the day. Only redeeming point was the free island tour we won

From Bali
After an afternoon nap, I said to myself, we're going to enjoy our dinner no matter what. So, off to the BEST Balinese haute cuisine in town - KETUPAT! It was well worth the price of some 300,000+ rupiah. Hidden behind an antique gallery on Legian, it was the most exotic looking place I've ever eaten in. Eating gazebos fashioned after ancient royal houses, poolside dining, and Balinese spa music made for perfect ambience for the night. And the food was.. oh my god... orgasmically good. Sate Lilit(check out the slideshow/photos)- pervasively spiced meat rolled around a serai stick, exuding the most heavenly aromas and flavors to titilate your palate - served on barely burning embers of coal. Time stopped as I bit into the succulent flesh made for gods...

From Bali
Ok back to earth.. That night we hung out at Starbucks, Discovery, had ourselves some frappucinos and caramel machiato while Ethan played himself silly over the couches after his meal. MISTAKE. All the excitement and aerophagy just made him pukey, and puke he did.. Trying to save the upholstery and carpets from permanent graffiti courtesy of Ethan, I took the entire load of vomit on myself (see photos). That totally made my day.. It was hilarious - father & son covered in vomit, people opened doors and stepped aside for us to get back to the hotel to be hosed down!

From Bali
Time to cash in our island tour prize. We headed off to Kintamani to see the live volcanic mountain of Batur. The usual stops on the way up - batik, silver, art, carvings, etc. Kintamani was crispy cool, the volcanic crater spouting off a little ash, and the large expanse of Danau Batur serene and sedate. On the way back, the driver suggested we try out the Elephant Safari at Bakas.. MISTAKE. The bloody entrance fee and elephant ride for 3 of us would've cost us 1.5million rupiah!! We said thank you very much, take us home.

Dinner was at Discovery Mall's food court where we had some Soto, Gado-gado and more sate. We decided we didn't need the grime and crowd of Kuta so we did all our shopping at TandaMata - the souvenir/craft shop in Discovery. I'm sure we were paying far too much for the stuff, but what the heck..

Day 4
This was going to be Joan's day at the Spa, and my day with the boy. All was going according to plan. We had breakfast, Ethan was happy watching Bob the Builder, mother bundled off, and I was feeding him on his pram before heading out to Kuta square. Then on his last spoon, he gave me that classic stare which says daddy I'm going to puke, like mega puke.. It was volcanic, like Batur in 1917. Puke splattered on the floor, the walls, and filled the pram. It took me a good hour to hose us both down, lay towels on the floor, and disrobe the pram for washing. Off to the laundry with another sack of clothes and pram covers, and finally back to Discovery for more gift hunting.

From Bali
From Bali
With all that exhaustion, I decided we were not going to do Jimbaran. I didn't want to risk another eruption and didn't fancy the traveling anyway. So, instead, we had seafood at the hotel's beachside BBQ. That was the best decision I made. The food was good, the poolside ambience chilling, and the entertainment - a Tek Tekan dance by a reputed troupe was par excellence. And we got some good photographs with the cast too! So for a stress-free, minimal fuss, great food and dose of local culture - I'd give the evening an 8 out of 10.

Day 5
From Bali
A laidback breakfast, stroll-come-photoshoot around the gardens, and finally packup to go. All in all, a challenging but fun trip. Not the usual see-all, do-all adventure. More of a highly-selective sampling of food, culture, and sights of the island paradise; perhaps an introduction to Bali for future reference should we decide to go again..

Picked up our compulsory cigarettes, brandies, chocolates and fragrances at the airport duty-free; let Ethan do some last-minute flirting with the babes, and off we go on our airplane. Thankfully Ethan knocked out even before we boarded and slept the whole way except for the last half hour.

From Bali
Goodbye Bali. Hold your own.

Getting back on Sunday, we were actually quite happy - both from the trip and to be back home. When I had my shower, I realised we have a little resort of our own right here in our own home. It's great to be home and great to have a home I can call paradise.

07 August 2008

Tourist in my own city

We had a week's vacation recently but decided not to burden ourselves with the stress of travel and the budget-busting expenses of hotels. So we did the unthinkable, vacation in our own home - Kuala Lumpur. We've always wondered what tourists saw in KL and what the experience would be not getting stuck in 2hr jams getting to and back from work. Instead enjoying the malls and sites at a leisurely pace.

Here are some snapshots of our little tourney..

Rabbit Park

A frolic in the rabbit park, Bukit Tinggi.

A journey through the underwater word, Aquaria KLCC.
Eye on Malaysia

A vertiginous ride above the city.
Mines North Lake

And cruising on a the world's largest tin-mine-turned-tourist-attraction.

All in all, not bad. KL's still the place to be!

06 August 2008

The Learning Attitude

In all areas of my vocation (medical research, teaching and patient care) and ministry (theological learning, teaching from the Bible and shepherding) I try to factor in a source of learning to uphold the giving.

That ensures that I am not only keeping a good input-output balance, but that I'm constantly growing and developing. A leader has to lead himself well, and a teacher must first be a learner. Undergoing the riguers of learning myself makes me empathise with my students and puts me in a unique position to walk with them as equals.

I was thumbing this book: 'Critical Thinking and Clinical Judgement' by Rosalinda Alfaro-LeFevre and found a list of 'Intellectual Traits' according to Paul & Elder (2001). Among them, these three struck me as truly essential:

Intellectual Humility

Intellectual Courage

Intellectual Integrity

Paul & Elder defines intellectual humility as 'consciousness of limits of your knowledge; willingness to admit what you don't know.'. Intellectual courage is 'awareness of the need to face and fairly address ideas, beliefs, or viewpoints to which you haven't given serious hearing.' Intellectual integrity is 'being true to your own thinking; applying intellectual standards to thinking; holding yourself to the same standards you hold others; willingness to admit when your thinking may be flawed.'

Put simply, admit your ignorance, be open to contrarian views, and practice what you preach! How often have I tried to fudge an answer or asked a student to 'go home and do your homework' when I wasn't sure myself? How often do I fail to perform a complete examination when I tell my students they're not allowed to take shortcuts! How often do I teach from a text in the Bible and interpret it according to my pet theologies without looking deeper into authorial intent, historical context, canonical and christological significance? Intellectual humility, courage and integrity are not signs of weakness, they are signs of a person who seeks truth above all else and most of all of himself.

03 August 2008

Weekend Kitchen Therapy

It's Sunday. Not just any Sunday. A Sunday after a tremendously crazy and stressful week.

I'm a compulsive overeater, and I destress by eating or cooking. So today I opted for cooking instead of binging.. But wait a minute.. I have to eat what I cook don't I? Well.. It has to go somewhere!


English breakfast sausages with sunny side up.



Carbonara - the Italian coal miner's high-calorie energy meal. Crisp-fried bacon, eggy-cheesy-creamy sauce with onions & garlic. And a sprinkle of parsley.
Posted by Picasa

26 June 2008

Discovering the Word through Biblical Theology

My reading/listening of Goldsworthy (According to Plan), Peterson's lectures on Biblical Theology (Oakhill Seminary) and articles from the IVP New Dictionary of Biblical Theology has been very gratifying and rewarding. The amazing thing for me is to see intellectually substantiated what I've always believed about the Bible - it's unity (in the diversity of many authors in different times and situations), it's one overarching message (built up from many narratives) and it's final convergence on Christ.

I'm learning that you not only can see themes run through this salvation history, but it is the framework of salvation history that must determine how these themes are understood. I drew a lot of diagrams to help me conceptualise how BT changes the way I read the Bible. Maybe I'll show post them up here one day.

One is a series of lenses that converges rays of light to a single focal point, the lenses being historical-literary context, canonical context, and Christological context. Put simply, a passage in the Bible is not being properly interpreted without seeing it through the whole Bible and Christ as it's framework or context. The historical-literary context asks: What is the author trying to say to the audience then and there; in their need and situation? The second then asks: Where/how does this fit in, and what does it contribute to the salvation-history story of the WHOLE Bible? The third then asks: How do I see Christ in this passage, and this passage in Christ?

Another is a set of concentric circles; the smallest being historical-literary, followed by canonical, then Christological, then God-church, then the world. Seeing it in enlarging circles helps me develop it's applicability. The smallest message unit is to the original audience, then, as part of the witness of the whole Bible, then as signboard pointing to Christ, then as God speaking to his church today, and finally, as the church being a witness to the world.

When I do my daily reading of the Bible now, I try to sit back at the end, close my eyes, and rethink the passage in these contexts... it's simply an amazing exercise for me to see the levels of significance just grow in depth and breadth to encompass all time and all of life.

Peterson in the first couple of lectures also taught me some remarkable things I never realised: that the apostle Peter was doing BT in his sermon in Acts ch 2, and he learnt it from Jesus in the post-resurrection period when Christ explained to them how the Law, Prophets and Psalms were fufilled in him! Also that the genealogy in Matthew is a sketch of salvation history milestones/landmarks - Adam, Abraham, David, and Christ - for epochal eras of salvation history!

Where have I been all these years?

Well, my excitement must give way to disciplined reading and reflection day by day. And seeing myself in the sweep of salvation history certainly adds a very important to perspective to how am I called to live. There is a sense of where we've come from and where we're headed, and the trajectory of life is being set right.

22 June 2008

Not every week I get a Sunday like this. Joan's at work - rescucitating the collapsed or straightening a fractured limb, whatever it is she has to do in the ER. My job's to keep baby clean and fed and give him his nap.

Ah but what joy it is when it isn't a task but a chance to reclaim some father and son time and create a few significant moments in our own history.

Fed him with Bob the Builder playing to keep him sufficiently cooperative. Showered him to a silky smooth radiance. Then at his yawning cue, put off the lights, draw the drapes and rock him to sleep.

Heck, I thought to myself. I may as well get some deep rest myself. So as he drifted into sleep I also proceeded to defragment my thoughts and feelings, breathe deeply, letting go the many tensions and suppressed inner conflicts. Soon he was flat out on the mattress and I was in the armchair, reclaiming my own center. It was my time to be. Be myself. And be with God. Letting me be me, God be God. In stillness know that nothing else matters, nothing was important. There really is nothing else apart from.. Here in this silent meeting was all things answered.

An hour passed. Ethan stirs. I sidle alongside him, cheek to the bed. He smiles and does the same, grinning contentedly.

'You're a good boy!' I offered.
He grins even wider, almost sheepishly.
'You love daddy?' I tease.
He nods affirmingly.
Then unexpextedly he lunges forward on all fours and pecks me on the cheek. Then shyly buries his face.
'Daddy loves you too!'
This goes on for a few minutes on the mattress. The beam of noon sun escaping between drapes shone brighter.

Then we had lunch. He sat on an adult chair next to mine, watched me eat, nibbled on some bits of sweet potato and grabbing my fork now and then to feed me!

Ah. The sweetness of wasting time together. Doing nothing 'important' yet having the most important thing there is. Ethan teaches me rest. Ethan teaches me how to be a father, and how to be a child.

What am I doing now? Thumbing this log, on the floor, my back against the washing machine. While Ethan rearranges everything in the kitchen cabinet.

Life. Just doesn't get better than this.

19 June 2008

Starting with the single unit

Continuing my search for a unified method for understanding self and managing life, I decided I must start with the most basic unit - the person. Over the years of scanty reading and brief exposures to various schools of thought, the one model I'm most convinced of is the 'physicalist non-reductionist' model of the person.

The idea in this model, to my simple mind, is that you can't reduce the person to his feelings, his thoughts, and his bodily processes as though they were separate entities (hence reductionist), nor can you separate mind and body - one cannot exist or function without the other (hence physicalist.) Put another way, while you can describe various aspects, functions or domains of a person - eg. body, soul & spirit; mind, emotions, volition, & intuition; affective & cognitive, etc. - there are no lines of demarcation where one ends and the other starts. And none exist without the other.

Of course, once you have a model, you will need to decide on its parts. While theologians are largely diveded into a bipartite (body & soul) or tripartite (body, soul & spirit), I'm not convinced it matters how or to how many parts we divide the person as long as we remember that we are each a UNITY. In fact, when we think of ourselves as image-bearers of a Triune God, it demands a unity in diversity, but not necessarily a tripartite man. Ok, I digress..

Using a model for healthcare (WHO definition of health), and the tripartite description in 1 Thes 5:23 of the Bible, I'm quite happy, for descriptive and life-management purposes (read: disclaimer, disclaimer! This is not a theological statement)to see man as biopsychosocial and and body, soul and spirit. I further sub-describe soul in terms of mind and heart - wherein the mind is rational/cognitive, and the heart is emotional/affective. Spiritually we relate to God, intuit the world, and our most primary motivations and subconscious driving force reside in our spirit. Socially we relate to others and in these relationships we often find our definition - in 'the other' so to speak.

Well, that is, in brief how I see the 'parts' or 'aspects' of a person that will need managing. As a concentric circle, I have the spirit in the centre, the soul (mind and heart) as the middle circle, and the body as the outer circle within a framework of the community (box).

To manage life, I will need to start there. In order of importance as well as direction of forces, I need to start from the centre - the spirit, from which everything flows: how I perceive the world, how I relate to self and others, what my motives and desires are, and so on. Following that, emotional, mental and physical health constitutes my core health. Without vibrant inner life, my outer life will surely collapse. From spirit to soul, soul to body, body to relationships with others: family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, etc. (I do consider relationship with self crucial - but that can come under emotional health.. more later.)

So to start the life-management process at this level.. I need to ask myself what is my desired outcome/goals:
1. Spiritually
2. Intellectually
3. Emotionally
4. Physically
5. Socially/relationally?
.. at the end of my life, at... well,.. as far you can project or to the end of this week!

14 June 2008

Halfway there

I turn 36 in a week. If 72 is the average lifespan of a man, I'm halfway there. I'm half done living, and I've got another half to go. No, I'm not making a big deal of it nor am I soliciting birthday gifts (or sympathy! LOL.) I just felt a 'lil, well, reflective, seeing that I'm growing old and all.

It's odd (but probably quite usual) that at thirty-six I'm learning some things for the first time in my life.. and going,.. 'You mean that's the way it's done? I'm 36 and I only just realised that? What have I been doing the last...'.

Well, one of those things is this: TIME SHOULD NOT BE MEASURED IN HOURS OR TASKS. This comes after years of attempting to manage time: new year's resolutions, yearly planning, quarterly goals, monthly reviews, weekly plans, daily execution schedules, domain/role mapping, and all that jazz (believe me I've tried it all, and invented a few of my own.) Well, after many years of frustration, and some of unprecedented success, I've realised it's not the way to go.

For one simple reason: life is not about how well I spend my hours (squeezing in as much productivity into the minute) nor of tasks accomplished. It's about meaningfully giving God glory, living out my calling, and blessing people in an impactful way.

If I've learnt anything being an educationist, it is that you should have clear objectives that match your desired outcome.

So if I live my life by hours and tasks, that is what I will achieve - hours spent, and tasks accomplished. Of course, if these hours were well spent and the tasks aligned to good goals - they would have had positive results. But that still does not ensure a satisfying experience executing them; nor real blessing to others in a spiritual/relational sense. More often than not I finish a week in blazing glory; every one of my projects well-executed, only to find myself NOT gratified and growing in joy. Instead I slump in the weekend, in a spent state wondering.. what's next.. And then I start again.

How SHOULD I measure/plan life then? I believe it's best to approach life with the same yardstick as we want to measure the outcome: SPIRITUAL AND RELATIONAL. Goals and tasks and time are servants of these realities. Even the holy grail of management - the vision and mission statement - are not penultimate. They are secondary to relationships (be it vertical - with God, horizontal - with others, or internal - with self) and the spirit of these relationships.

So, at thirty-six, I want to not to bother about the hours. Or the tasks completed (yes, we all love ticking off the boxes on our PDAs!) Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to stop planning my days or ticking off radio-boxes on my Task list. But I AM going to bring life-management to a more basic level. I don't know how I'm going to do it yet. I don't even have the vocabulary or appropriate categories. But I know I need to operate from a more basic, more primary cente.

...to be cont'd

18 April 2008

Get fit reading, too!

Who says you've gotta be all brawn and no brain? What makes you think it's one or the other, all or nothing. Be a well-educated fitness-freak. Be a healthy book worm.

Yan commented in the last post that she reads on her cross-trainer. See? What do you think makes a good journalist? Kit-Kats and ASTRO?

I've had to innovate a bit more this week because of the silly IELTS that I have to sit for to go overseas and study. It's ridiculous, of course. That I'm published in international peer-reviewed scientific journals but I have to sit for a silly English exam to prove that I can go read in the white man's university. My wife insists I should at least be familiar with the format of the test, so..

A sturdy document holder with clips for holding back the pages so you can read hands free is essential.

A good-sized book, with considerable thickness can fit in these (easily obtained from a PC store).

Makes me feel like I want to go back to school!

13 April 2008

Number of obese growing bigger

Malaysians had also grown accustomed to an affluent lifestyle, and were more comfortable sitting at home and watching television or being in front of the computer, instead of enjoying the outdoors.

..so says our YB The Health Minister who admits to being obese himself.

The point of my last post exactly! Now you can be in front of the computer as long as you like, and the longer the better. I've just done 15km on my bike just reading the Star and chatting with a couple of friends.

And, as promised, I found a pine-wood plank to put up on the handles, as pictured below. So now the mouse can go on and I have full PC control.

NEXT: The brackets and screw or maybe velcro to immobilise the tray.

The FIT Geek

Ever felt you waste too much time on your PC? Knowing you could be doing something else more useful but can't think of what because you're too busy clicking and your mind is numbed by mindless surfing? Is your exercise bike gathering dust because you can't for the life of you spend 30 minutes pedalling nowhere?

Well.. here's a solution for you. Exercise AND surf the NET.

You'd be surprised how synergistic the two activities are. The mind-numbing effect of surfing the internet makes you FORGET you are exercising; so calories are being furnaced away while you're getting the latest lowdown on Malaysian politics, watching Marie Digby on YouTube or whatever it is you whittle your bandwidth on. No PAIN, ultimate GAIN.

How the heck do you do that, you ask? The question's been bothering me for a whole week. I've been going from twisting wires to drilling holes on my bike-shaft. I've surfed the net for adjustable-arm keyboard-tray to handheld remote-web-controllers. Then, I thought, why not ask my brother-in-law (Dr. Liew), the Mr.Fix-It-All of my family. In his typical mechatronic-genius, he knit his brows for a few seconds and dispensed his wisdom: Why can't you invert your bike handles?

And wa...laaa...

My wireless keyboard rests nicely on the tension-adjuster knob anteriorly and the edge of the handles posteriorly. The handles can be further rotated to get the correct angle to prevent RSI (though if you do, you should really just sit and work on the PC.) It's important to use a good browser like Opera where you can use a host of keyboard shortcuts to navigate - from switching tabs to going back and forward, zooming in and out, and activating voice and entering passwords automatically. And with this configuration you can still check your speed and distance every now and then.

Shown here is my workstation (under the cloth is my Korg 01/W - I haven't figured out how to play the keyboard while cycling yet.) To the right of the bike is my baby-monitor - young dads can only exercise when baby's asleep, you see... Now I REALLY have no excuse not to exercise.

In the last two days I've managed to get in 90 minutes of vigorous cycling, AND go through the whole of Malaysiakini, Malaysia Today, The Star and Reuters Health with time to spare. Talk about efficient! My next goal will be to write an entire paper or prepare a lecture while speeding through my 10k.

Who says geeks can't be fit?

NEXT PROJECT: Mount a board on those handles so I can put my wireless mouse on it too. Look out for the next edition of 'The FIT Geek!'

30 March 2008

Is the grass really greener?

You can be earning 5 times what you are now if you cross over to the private sector. How will you send your kids to medical school in UK with your current salary? This country is going nowhere, it's rotten to the core. At least in XXX-country discrimination isn't institutionalised, it's fairplay. So I've heard, ad nauseum. The grass is always greener on the other side.

Rookee has this interesting take on it.. Scientifically, it IS true that the grass is greener on the other side! He says:
..something about the direct angle at which we view a neighbor’s yard that makes the light reflect in such a way that more green is shown on a lawn farther away than the one at your own feet. In short, the grass you're standing on always has just a bit more brown than the grass that you're looking at, aspiring to, or dreaming about without any basis for your conclusions.

So, the grass is only greener when you're on the opposite side of the fence, looking from the outside! It's all a matter of perception, I guess. Personally, I think the grass is as green as we make it out to be.. and if it isn't, it's really up to me to grow my own grass. Otherwise, I'll just be hopping over fences the rest of my life, and never savor the gifts I have right under our feet; no matter how green the grass.

And if I should be considering a change of pastures... I have to ask myself, for what personal goals/reasons should I even contemplate it? And how does it bring any personal growth, enhance my giving to others, and give glory to God? It doesn't really matter where the grass is greener, it's which field I'm called to stand in and how I will nurture that field that counts!

28 March 2008

To Ephesus I go

Been some time since I studied for a theology/Bible-studies paper; even longer since I blogged! This semester with Moore College I've been 'accidentally' enrolled into doing Ephesians. I thought I'd take a break but I'm enrolled. Which,.. I reckon is a blessing in disguise. I do have some time and my interest is intact. And I'm thinking it's not a huge task - unlike the Pentateuch, Romans or the recent paper I sat on John's Gospel.

It will be very interesting to see what issues comes up in the in-depth study and how Paul the thinker wrestles with them, always bringing to bear vital Old Testament theology and yet managing to cut fresh ground with New Covenant realities.

12 February 2008

Girls = Evil

Gee.. I wished my maths teacher had taught me this.