Half way through 2019

Yup, all of a sudden… we are here, at the half way mark of 2019. So far 2019 has been kind to me, though there were many changes in my life and I do get tired coping them at times. But I know that changes are necessary from time to time, so I’m not going to complaint much.

Looking back on the goals I set for myself, surprisingly I had achieved (or going to achieve) most of them. When was the last time I was such efficient in working towards completing my yearly resolutions? Like never… haha. Anyway, glad that everything seems to be on track and getting along. Although there are still a few bits that I need to work harder on.

To sum up my first half of 2019, all I can say was “changes”. There had been so much changes that at times I do felt tired and asked myself “why am I doing all these…”, but then again, it’s now or never. So I’ll just have to keep going and press forward. New job, did lasik for my eyes, exercise more often, restarting my learning of Japanese language, a trip to Taipei, volunteering for Plastikophobia project, moved to a new place and so on.

If everything goes according to plan (hopefully…), second half of the year will be an amazing one. I got one more trip lining up in August, and it’s the one I’m most looking forward to. And there are some plans for some little things here and there, so I’ll try my best to stick to my target and get things done.

Last but not least, I’m still trying hard to make sure I’m posting on weekly basis on this blog. I was so busy after switching to my new job that I didn’t have much time to really sit down and have some thoughts and write something about it. Luckily I have enough backlog posts to sail me through the past few months. As the “stock” is depleting, is time to start spending some time to write again.

I hope you are having a good time so far in 2019. All the best for the days to come. Till then.

Moving…

Yes, I am moving. Not moving this website though, but I am moving from my current rental room and shifting to a new place. Rented whole unit instead of just a room, hopefully this will be a change worthwhile of the investment, at least now it’s a little closer to “living in my own house”. 

When will I be buying my own house? Probably few years down the road, but not so soon. For now, I hope that this change will improve my quality of life a little. Now I can restart my cooking habits, yes I do cook, although they may not taste great. There’s more freedom in inviting friends to come and have a drink or a small gathering, and there’s more freedom and privacy for me and my wife as well.

It’s a little sad leaving the current place, I had stayed here for the past 6 years, and I really enjoyed the environment and neighbourhood. However, as both me and my wife have changed our job, it will be more convenient to move to the new place to cut down some travelling time.

There are still a lot of things that need to be tidied up, hopefully we’ll be able to settle down soon. Also need to get used to the neighbourhood and hopefully I can make myself comfortable here. Looking forward for the days to come, till then.

My secret?

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“How long have you blogged?”
“How can you be consistently posting and updating your blog?”

I was being asked on these questions recently. I think a lot of people felt surprise that I had been doing this since… once upon a time? Is there a secret behind it? Well, not really. I think the main thing is being disciplined and stick to your plan and work things out. It’s not easy, but yet it’s not impossible.

My current workflow is pretty simple:

  1. Write on my phone whenever there’s any idea that come across my mind.
  2. Develop the idea into full post bits by bits. Usually I’ll be doing this when I’m commuting, waiting or whenever I’m free.
  3. Let the writings sit for awhile. Usually a few days. Come back later and read through them again. Sometimes post may get deleted and never see the light, sometimes I may rewrite the whole post.
  4. Once it’s done, I’ll upload the draft post onto wordpress and make further formatting and adjustments as necessary.
  5. Schedule a date and time to post the blog post. WordPress will automatically post on my behalf when the time comes.
  6. The key is to build up backlog of posts, so you can play around rearranging their posting dates, and also it gives you time to slowly think and write about your next post.

Yup, that’s about it. Nothing fancy, and nothing difficult actually. For now I have set my limit to 1 post a week, I “just” need to crunch out 52 posts per year… which I think is still manageable as of now. Will I ever feel tired and wanted to give up? Of course I do, occasionally. During the lows, I try not to force myself to think and write too much. With sufficient backlog, I should be able to get through the lows and start writing again.

What will be the future of this blog? Well, I wonder, but we’ll see how it goes and for those who actually read my blog, thank you. Till then.

《书店不死》石桥毅史

在台湾旅行,逛着书店时,我发现了这本书。日文名字“本屋”虽然翻译上来是“书店”没错,但是其实作者比较想探讨的是独立书店的未来。在日本旅行时,不难发现商店街中偶尔会穿插着几间书店,有些小得只能挤入两三人,有些卖着新书,有些卖着二手书。在这大型连锁书店施虐的年代,这些独立书店是否还有存在的价值呢?它们存在的意义又是什么呢?那些成功生存的,它们的秘诀又会是什么呢?

书店是怎样的一个存在,书中提到的一个结论是心意与诚意的传达。书店老板和顾客交流,从中介绍他们一本书或一名作者;然后这份心意与诚意,这份温暖,从书店老板的手中传递给顾客,让他们也能够感受到那份温热。

另外,书店对店员与老板来说,就像是画家的画纸一样。这个角落应该摆放什么种类的书,这种类的书中又应该卖哪一本,该怎么摆放,该怎么让顾客注意到某本书,该怎么让顾客知道这是一本好书等等。这些都是一门学问。

透过观察一间书店,你就可以知道老板的细心程度,老板是否用心的想把那份“温暖”给传递下去。在新加坡,独立书店实在不多,但隐约记得我曾经光顾过一件挺有意思的(虽然现在已经没了),也许那时候我所感觉到的“有意思”,就是老板想传达的那份温暖吧?

这本书还讨论了整个从出版到销售的过程,也针对书店和书本的未来而进行了研究。电子书确实能够让阅读更普及化,简化出版过程与成本,但是它能够传承那份“温暖”吗?大型连锁书店只是跟着总部的指示摆卖书本,这能让顾客发现非主流的好书吗?书店会沦落成为一个枯燥乏味,单单只是贩卖书本的卖场吗?将来是否连这些枯燥乏味的连锁书店也会被淘汰?

我觉得不会,我也希望不会。我还想继续享受着在书店的架子间游走,那仿佛在寻觅宝藏的感觉。我还想闻到那书香,感受那手指翻阅着每一页章的感觉。希望无论是独立书店也好,连锁书店也好,也能够继续坚持营运下去。而我能够做的,也就是继续买书,继续阅读,然后透过这样的文章和大家分享,让那份温暖得以延续。

What kept you going and why you decided to leave?

That’s the question I was asked during interview. I took a few seconds to ponder about it and gave them my reply eventually. I’m not sure whether they were pleased with my answer, but at least now that I looked back, I was honest to myself in giving them the answer.

I started my first job back in Malaysia, joining a Japanese air-conditioning manufacturing company. Worked for 3 years, posted to Dubai for a year in between, all my efforts were well recognised. The people within the organisation was the main driving factor that kept me going. We were like a big family, everyone was close to each other, work hard and play hard. I really enjoyed my time there. The reason of leaving was completely personal, I wanted to see what else are offered in the job market, and I thought of working elsewhere instead of Malaysia. I shared my thoughts before in a couple of blog posts previously.

Then, I moved to Singapore, still within the same industry, but this time working as sales in a US company. I did learned a lot from my colleagues, but sadly they weren’t the driving factors that kept me going for almost 6 years here. A lot of time, I drew more energy from my customers than people within the organisation. It’s a stark difference compared to my previous company. After completed my part time MBA study, I decided it’s time to make a move to different role and industry. Similarly, I wanted to see what’s out there to be offered by other industries.

Everyone has a different opinion on my decision, I’ll leave that discussion as it is. On the final few days of my job, I met some of my customers, informing them that I’ll be leaving, at the same time tidying up any outstanding matters while I still can. I was getting a lot of “concerns” from them, asking why am I leaving, how much they had valued my assistance, while some offered to write-in to my manager to seek for my promotion, or even offering job to me. It feels touching indeed, at least my efforts were recognised by them, that’s more important than anything else.

I will still be in Singapore, at least for the next few years I guess. I had moved to a different role and industry altogether, let’s see what I can achieve here. Till then.