After 1st of June 2020

Technically speaking, the circuit breaker (a.k.a. lockdown) in Singapore has been lifted. From 2nd of June onwards, measures are gradually loosen in order to allow people to resume back their daily life, although it will not be the usual one in near future. For me, nothing much has changed other than now I will need to juggle between working from home and working in office. This turns out to be more taxing as I will either need to carry all my work related stuff with me wherever I go, or I just need to have two sets of everything, one in office and one at home.

A friend of mine asked me what I’ve missed throughout the lockdown period. Hmm… to be honest, nothing much. Perhaps I missed going to gym daily, I missed working in office instead of at home, I missed the freedom of going places or travelling, and that’s about it I guess? I believe some of us can’t wait to dine in at our favourite restaurant, visiting friends, attending concerts, hop on a cruise and so on. Well, in my opinion, the lockdown has actually taught us to identify what’s essential and what’s not. Not sure if there was a moment during this period where you realized you could actually go on with your life with just very little thing?

Taking stock on what have I done during the lockdown period: I have read some books, watched a few dramas and movies, started learning some programming language, not exercising as much as I would have hoped for but more time was spent in stretching and form improvement, rearranged some of the furniture in my house making it more spacious to live in, cooked a whole lot and learned a few new tricks and recipes, and finally completed my personal book project and started a few others. Sounds fulfilling?

I’m glad that I was able to live through this period. I have to admit I do have some downs in the beginning. Received pay cut, worried about job, worried about finance, worried about future. But I managed to pick myself up and got through everything. I know I was fortunate enough to at least be in my position during this period and I’m grateful for that. It could be much worse. Well, let’s see what challenge awaits for me in the days to come. Till then. Take care.

The world of over engineering

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Take a look over on kickstarter (or indiegogo), you will soon find the platform is filled with over engineered stuff, like super complex lunch box, items that doubled or tripled with additional features and functions that may or may not be necessary and so on.

Just do a quick search on “bag”, you will find that almost every bags packed in every single features gathered from every other existing bags out there, all cramped into one. All these features generate enough hypes to make each of these bags labelled themselves as “the best bag every designed and built”, throw in a collaboration with some “famous” YouTubers, or get it review by some of them and there, you have a winning formula in selling tons of it.

For example, there are over engineered carry-on backpack that can expand in capacity, carry up to 30L, filled with compartments, extra padding and weights in over 2kg for just the bag alone. Typically, carry-on luggage is limited at 7kg in weight, that means you can only fill up another 5kg of stuff with such a huge capacity… all of a sudden it doesn’t sound like a lot right? Let’s say you carry a laptop that weights around 2kg, you are only left with 3kg to carry all your remaining stuff (clothings, toiletries, other daily essentials etc.), how is that even practical?

Camera bag is another culprit of over engineering. Velcro are replaced with countless of magnets, lots and lots of compartments that can’t even be filled, bags that are designed as “the ultimate bag” which cater for every possible environment (such as urban, hiking, trekking, extreme sport and so on), the list can go on and on. Other than bags, there are various camera accessories or “tech” items flooding the platform everyday. There’s nothing wrong for them to sell you something you don’t need, but it’s our call to perform our due diligence, to be rational and honest, and ultimately not to be deceived by the marketing hype.

For me, I had tried to stay away from “reviewers” online, be it YouTube or any other platforms. If I was interested with something, I took the time to really study, understand and think through whether it is really as useful as it advertised. “But it’s on kickstarter! Limited quantity and special price for early backers! Promotion ends in 30 minutes!” It’s okay, for me, I’m willing to spend more on something I really want and need than paying less on something I don’t really need and regret buying in the end. I had my fair share of wrong decisions in the past, and hopefully I will be a little wiser in the future.

I’m not afraid of dying

Yes, seriously, I’m not. Why? Well, what’s the point of feeling afraid and anxious on something that you can’t even control?

“But I want to live longer… I’m still too young to die…” as some said. I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum. I wanted to die young, if possible. I don’t need to live my life up to 70s, 80s or 90s. Some may argue that they are working hard everyday and their life has just begun after their retirement in 50s. Some said they want to see their kids grow up, graduate, get married and have their own family.

For me, I want to live and enjoy my life now, like… now. I don’t want to save all the enjoyment until my retirement, I don’t want to pinch my happiness on unknown circumstances in the future. Like what I had always said, live your current moment to the fullest, live as if today will be your last day of life, live without regrets for tomorrow.

Therefore, it is important to balance my work and personal life, it is important to work a job that I enjoy, it is important to live my life to the best I could. If I die tomorrow, I will not feel a sense of “life is too short”, I will be able to close my eyes and smile.

Of course, the reality is, I have no control over when I will die (that is until the time euthanasia is legalized and become a norm). So it doesn’t mean I will spend all my money just to fulfil my lust for materials and experiences. I am still saving for retirement and for emergency, in case I live that long. If not, the money can always be donated to those in need.

So… here I am today, trying my best to live my life to the fullest, and I hope you are too. All the best, till then.

Talk about habit

Go My Own Way

Habit, something we are used to, and something that we do unconsciously. Some have the habit of drinking coffee every morning, some have the habit of wetting their fingers with your tongue before counting cash. We all have some sort of habit, maybe you may not even realize it.

For me, I was so used to wearing watches that even when I’m not wearing one, I’ll still be constantly raising my wrist to check out the time, and I will feel rather “insecure” for the rest of the day for some reason.

Recently I had picked up a new “habit”… I have been wearing glasses for over 20 years, and last year I had lasik for both of my eyes, so there’s no longer a need to wear glasses. However, my old glasses wearing habit still persist. There were times I tried to “take off my glasses” before washing my face, there were times when I still shield “my glasses” from water spray or rain droplets. The worse was sometimes I felt that I can see things clearer when I’m wearing glasses, despite the glasses is actually just cosmetic without any prescription.

The same goes to photography. Say you are easily drawn to something and you unconsciously groomed the habit of photographing the same thing, even worse if it is at almost similar angle or composition. Some have the habit to shoot things dead centre, some have the habit to over-saturate their photo during post processing.

I believe it is hard to avoid having any habits. The key point instead will probably be whether or not you are aware of your habit, recognize it and stop it when necessary. Maybe you can make that your “new habit” instead? Till then.

Live within your means

It had never really struck me until I sit down, reflect and do the math. Netflix, Adobe subscription, Apple Music, Microsoft Office and etc. are just a few of the things I was paying for on monthly basis all along. I was working in sales, as long as I push myself, I’ll get my equivalent pay in return. Although I wouldn’t say I’m rich in any means, but those are the things that seem affordable to me all along.

With my job switched to non-sales role, my overall pay was reduced a little. Couple that with additional expenses after moving in to new places, my expenses and saving have gone haywire for awhile until I finally spend some time looking into it. Judging from what I really need and what I’m willing to pay for, I decided to make plans in restructuring all my expenses.

As a start, Adobe and Netflix will go, I can’t find justification to continue on as I don’t use them often enough to warrant a subscription. I’ll make do with any cheaper (or even better, free) alternative for now. Next will be Microsoft Office, I’ll make do with Apple’s apps and move most of my cloud backup back to local RAID storage that I already bought few years back. Gym membership from big names has been swapped to neighbourhood gym too. Flickr will probably be next.

The streamlining process goes on and on, and hopefully I can cut away all fats and live a leaner life going forward. “But you only live once”, yes, but still that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be leaving my responsibilities behind. I can still live the best without spending that much more. Perhaps this is a good chance for me to become a step closer to minimalism. Till then.