A Vacation for Just Two Hours

It’s a vacation for just two hours, a rendezvous just before the water’s edge.
It’s fine by me if it’s not quite enough.
The fun can happen little by little.

二時間だけのバカンス ~ 宇多田ヒカル
Translated by Toria

I’ve been slogging through work half the time when I’m supposed to be serving my National Service commitments. I chose to seriously tear myself away from work only just a few days before.

There’s always a feeling that I should get back to work but I was pretty conscious about self-care this time round. There will be a long to-do list to tackle tomorrow and yes, let’s skip it today. Tomorrow it shall be.

This “vacation” really seems so short! I know, I know, it isn’t a vacation to begin with. I choose to see it as one as I badly need the rest.

Better sign off now.

I’ll enjoy it little by little, the two hours that is left.

Note to self: Having my own time to rest is just as important. Got to clear my mind and enjoy the present moment!

Handling too many interests, too little time – A Thought Exercise


Future Reinvention
Breaking out from the hiatus, revisiting the past, fusing it into the future.
~ Flex Tio, 13 Oct 2016 ~

A commitment to the nation’s conscription policy comes with its own perks. It gave me some time to complete my work in peace and more importantly, some time to self-reflect.

Once in a blue moon, I will take out my sketch book and draw whatever visions that came to my mind. As usual, I do not have a theme when I started drawing this recent picture. I interpreted whatever I have drawn after completing the drawing…

I took a 5-year hiatus from music and Japanese. Strange enough, that seemed to be what my idol Utada Hikaru was doing in the same period. I supposed most people at our age might probably be doing the same thing, as the spirit of living and adventuring got hold of us in endless cycles. Anyway, I’ve digressed.

Foray into public speaking, learning about soft skills (life skills!), a change in career, board gaming, half-marathons and an unsure but growing interest in facilitation. I’ve grown a lot as a person and I’ve learnt to be more accepting to the world around me in these five years. Life went tougher as expected, but I was marked happier. However, I wasn’t ready to give up the breakthroughs I had in life.

The past two year, I tried to do music and Japanese all over again. I wouldn’t say I failed to deliver after so long, but it had been a slug fest faced with limited success and passion to drive it. Melody no longer flows and Japanese just isn’t that fluent. It didn’t feel that satisfying.

It was also clear that I had way too many different interests and too little time.

One way was obvious, I have to pick and choose, and say no to some of the interests that I had. Of course, the perfectionist will want to have the cake and eat it too.

I was just wondering if a Future Reinvention could be another possible solution?

To me, Future Reinvention involves fusing the past talents that I have and use them in new ways that fits nicely into my current interests, creating a new brand of interests that I can pursue and explore. Fundamentally, it is a “kill two birds with a stone” type of solution. It is what this exact blog represents in fact, exploring symbiotic relationships between my interests.

I know very well that Future Reinvention is going to be a very ambitious project to undertake as I will have to rethink everything that I know about myself, probably even thinking about it in a reverse direction. I’m not quite sure if it is going to work out personally. Yet, my subconscious seemed to think it will…

That 0.1% Matters Too


This is what 0.1% looks like on the chart.

Small and insignificant or so it looks, compared to the grand scale of things.

Surely, there are greater things we need to worry about:

  • According to the United Nations, World Food Programme, 12.9% of the world population are starving.
  • A similar number exists when we talk about the number of people in the world who do not have access to clean water.
  • Percentages roughly halves when we look at the number of people who lack healthcare. That translates to about 5 to 6%. We are talking about 400 million of the 7.4 billion people in the world do not have access to healthcare.

With such a huge job at hand, why should we bother about 0.1% anyway? Is it too insignificant?

Do you know that about 0.1% of the people are internally displaced in the recent Syrian conflict?

If that doesn’t appeal to you…

How about the wealth controlled by the top 0.1% of the people?

According to the Guardian, in the States, the top 0.1% of the rich controlled as much wealth as the bottom 90%. Think of what you could do with all that money to help the world out, if you can influence them and give them a good reason to help the others.

Finally, there’s also about 0.1% of the people in the world who lived in a country that gained independence against its will. The country grew to be a seemingly utopian state but faces its own unique set of struggles too today.

I live in that country. Singapore matters to me. That 0.1% matters to me too.

My One Week Boot Camp to Saying No

Like many people, I struggled saying “No” to people. Therefore, it was not surprising that I’m usually faced with high busyness both at work and with my personal commitments. Busyness is fine in general, but working on things that you don’t feel like working can be unsatisfying.

In the previous week at work, I was forced to say “No” to many additional commitments. It had reached a point where it was just humanly impossible to complete those jobs. The hardest part about saying “No” was how to do so without blowing up. I’m down with flu. I get irritable easily. I’m on the verge to vent my frustration. I managed to keep at least half of my responses nice although the other half were more of the short and emotionless sort of response. Like what my Toastmasters friends has rightly pointed out, I thought that I might come across as arrogant if my response is too short.

It has been annoying. But I can say that I am glad I was put to the test.

Towards the end of the week, I saw an article which may help me say “No” without feeling all the guilt, without making up stories of how people are going to despise me if I said no to them in my mind. It was about Adele saying “No” to performing at the SuperBowl.

The article ended with a common sense that I had never thought in that perspective before:

“Every time you say yes to something you don’t really want, you’re actually saying no to the things you do.”

With the training and the insights, I guess I’ll be more ready to say “No” next time.

Pokemon GO: Perspectives from a Random Lecturer in Singapore

Pokemon GO has been making waves in Singapore since it’s launch just a few days ago.

It has managed to do what Singapore’s Health Promotion Board has been trying to do, get people to exercise! And then there is this awesome Republic Polytechnic lecturer that lays down the rules against playing Pokemon GO in class!

I’m no Pokemon fan. I belong in the age of Doraemon. I’m also one of the curious lecturer who downloaded the app to see what my students are exactly enjoying. Students always seem so surprised that lecturers are also playing Pokemon and gossiping exchanging information about students, doing the things that students do. But hey! Have they forgotten that we are humans too?

In my opinion, every hype and fab that our students are into, there’s usually a positive outcome for teachers and lecturers to dabble into. Pokemon GO is no exception. In fact, it is so big that the rewards are many folds bigger for teachers and lecturers to reap.

(1) Pokemon GO gives me an instant shared experience to connect with my students.

Such rare opportunities provided me with the chance to break the barriers with students, especially those who I may not have connected well with in a class of 20 to 24. “By the way, have you check out the Pokestop at the fountain? Remember to top up your Pokeballs on your way to the MRT”.

Pokestop at NYP

(2) Pokemon GO gives me a language to talk to my students.

Want to go through all the Pokestop in the shortest amount of time to get your refill of Pokewares? Here’s your motivation to learn about the Travelling Salesman Problem. Can’t get my students to understand a theory in class? Whip out a Pokemon metaphor, they might just get it. Pokemon GO is probably doing very well in this aspect. It is complicated enough, in the sense that I can see lots of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics behind the game. An art in every design and a technology to drive every enjoyment.An expressive example for some pretty confusing theories.

A common question I get from some people: You’re a lecturer and an educator, shouldn’t you be frowning upon games in the first place?!

Short answer: Why, whatever for? Everything in moderation. Work hard, play harder. Life’s too short not to have some fun?

TL;DR answer: Taking away the extremes, the fanatical bad publicity that Pokemon GO has accumulated which included trespassing and getting into car crashes, I placed great trust that my students will game on in a moderate manner. No need to discourage, just need to encourage them to get their priorities right if they have not done so.

After all, I am an avid gamer myself, a Level 80 Maplestory Ice Mage (without the use of 2x Exp cards mind you), guilty of playing Maplestory quietly at the back of the lecture theatre and taking photographs of lecture materials in the age when camera phones are still sucky and Nokia still champs (I use a real point and shoot camera with a tripod!). Hey, I still score an A for my AI lecturer~

The world already expects the next generation to be super-humans in many aspects; I think they should just be more human instead.

the run in the rain

I always liked the idea of running in the rain
The feeling of raindrops dripping off my face
The coolness that’s going to seep through my hair
Meeting the skin underneath, all warm up and pumped up because of the run

I enjoy running under the strong tall trees
Among their green leaves the birds went hiding
I listened intently to the birds as they were still singing,
As though a song to the heavens, praying for a rainy day

I listened to the raindrops joining the lake,
Sliding down the leaves of the tree, bouncing off the grass and pavement all around
The chorus of inner peace that envelops the nature that is all around me

I listened carefully to the sound my feet makes as they meet the ground
The beat of the run in the rain
I listened attentively to my breath
The life of the run in the rain

I stopped in front of the lake
Seeking to admire the nature that may not remain…

The rain reciprocated,
Making sure that not a patch of my singlet was left dry
Making sure that I was embraced by its coolness
Making very sure that she would hug and love me with whatever she could

I tried to remembered all of it
The fish in the lake that swims freely
The family of monitor lizards that roams
The squirrels that always runs up a tree, seldom down it

It was decided that the lake park will be given a big boost, a new lease of life
As to whether that will become an irony, it remains to be seen…

~ Flex Tio ~

A huge area of Jutong Lake Park will be going under renovations from 1st Aug 2016 onwards. I run there once every other week. I’ve kayaked in the lake as well. I was hoping that they don’t have to touch such a large area of the park all at the same time but looks like that’s not going to happen.

I hope all the nature can find its way through this somehow. And yes, don’t make Jurong Lake Park another East Coast Park. Put any Fast Food outlets far far away, thanks.

journey to RIDE IV: indefinite hiatus

My final decision: extend the lifespan of my car. In Singapore, one will need a Certificate of Entitlement (CoE) in order to own a car and such a certificate spans only 10 years. Car owners are allowed one chance to replace their CoE of their old car and hence I did, burning a hole of close to 50 grand in the process. Owning a ride in Singapore is sure expensive!


Stick Shift of My Car!

On the bright side, I get to keep my manual car. A rare find in Singapore. Some major repair works on the way but I think it will survive. Swifts are simple cars to maintain after all.

With no further reason to ride, my journey has come to an indefinite hiatus, until I meet the CoE problem again years in the future.

It has been a stressful learning experience for me, learning riding and balancing the bike and all my commitments along with it. The ever piling demands of work made it more stressful for me to commit to my journey to ride.

As far back in mid-May, I was so stressed that I fell sick. I wasn’t well for the next four weeks to come.

I was so pressured that I stopped my running regime for 6 weeks.

I was so tired that I met my first accident in years of my driving.That was the last straw! My thoughts then, “Now I’m not even driving safely, how can I expect myself to ride safely?” I was quietly screaming for help inside, waiting to be relieved from the ever increasing expectations placed upon me.

I was so worn out after the accident, I rang up a friend, told him that I’m going to quit biking. He met me that very night to console me, and asked me to pushed on. He even asked a lady who had been unflagging at learning riding for the past 1.5 years to encourage me not to give up. And I took his advice, rest for a week or two.

I went back on the bike, promising myself this would be my last lesson if I’m going to fail again. Heavy rain fell making the roads wet that night, as I donned the bright yellow foul weather gear and throttling through the planks and the slaloms again. I passed. In fact, I did better then ever. So now what am I going to do? I booked for the next lesson in four days time. However, health takes another toll towards the week before my business trip to Finland, and for the first time, I had to forgo a paid lesson, in the interest of health and the trip.

I guess one hard lesson I learnt was that I’m really no superman. I thought I could be. But I guess endurance had to be built over time and I really need to come to terms that I’m not that young anymore?

That’s two really physically and emotionally tough months I went through. I’m just looking forward to July, hoping that it will be a better month than May and June. I think it will be. And I can’t wait for the school term to end towards August and take some leaves for a proper break. The one I have not had in close to 4 years.

Still, I hope to ride one day. It’s probably just not that high a priority now. Now, I need to rest.