The state of 2020

“We should just write-off first half of 2020 and let the year begin in July.”

That was what my friend told me. Trip canceled, job lost, pay cut, income dropped, flight grounded, people died, tears dried. Up until the end of March, 2020 has been nothing short of chaotic and a mess. Most of our lives have been disrupted, many were forced to stay home, many were feeling helpless, many were feeling anxious of the uncertain future.

For me, I was fortunate that nothing much was planned for the first half of the year in the very first place. Disruption has been minimal, other than not being able to travel back to my hometown in Kuala Lumpur, some minor movement restriction, life has been pretty much “as usual” here in Singapore. I’m not sure if the measures implemented by the government were effective in curbing the spread of COVID-19, but at this point of time, there’s really nothing much I can do other than leave it to the expert to advise, and of course to wash my hand frequently.

For those who are restricted in movement, do take this opportunity to read some books (if you need recommendation, browse around my blog for some), learn some skills, don’t just Netflix and chill your time away. As the future is uncertain, it’s better to take every crisis ahead and turn it into an opportunity for the days to come. Also, stay safe, stay healthy and stay calm. We’ll get over this for sure.

The Outbreak

The new coronavirus (now named as COVID-19) outbreak occurred around end of last year, and it has been going on until now. It was believed to have started from a market in Wuhan, China which sold exotic wildlife that ended up on a diner table. The Chinese government has declared emergency and lockdown a few cities, WHO was notified, travel bans were in placed by some countries, and everyone has been working relentlessly to contain the virus from spreading and to search for cure.

And with the social media craze, we started to see all sorts of fake news emerged, irresponsible comments, wrong information shared and so on, making the matter worse. The most significant one would be how everyone is putting the blame on Chinese, and everyone started to stay away from them. There were those who blamed the Chinese government for hiding the truth. Here in Singapore, there were those who blame the Singapore government for acting slowly. Soon, people started to panic, hoarding face masks and sanitizers, which eventually ended up as people rushing to supermarket and started hoarding food supplies.

Before I begin ranting, let me put the record straight: I admit that I am one of those who are not fond of the Chinese government policies and the behaviour of their people while travelling abroad. I think most of us who dislike the Chinese shares similar reason. But to be honest, not all Chinese behave the same. I have Chinese national friends whom themselves hated these ill behaved Chinese nationals. Despite that, I feel sorry and pity them for being the one to blame in this case. With that said, let’s begin.

It could have started in anywhere

Unfortunately, an outbreak occurred. It started off in Wuhan, China. But this could have happened anywhere around the world, and I truly believe so. As long as we are not careful, as long as we do not ensure cleanliness in our environment, in the farm, or in the market where fresh produces are being traded, we run into the risk of contamination. So to put the blame solely on “because the people from Wuhan eat bats” leads you to nowhere.

I’m not too concern of the virus

The media (or social media) has played a role in spreading a lot of information, perhaps a little too much information, and causes panic all around the world. Yes, we should be aware and alert about the situation, but some irresponsible media will just focus on putting the blame on China, creating fear among public, making things become far worse than what it seems to be. Yes, the virus is contagious, it causes death, but you just need to take a look at the big picture to understand that all flu has potential to lead to death. And like all flu, everyone can take part in stopping the spread if and only if everyone puts their hands and heart into it.

I’m more concern about human stupidity

If there’s anything that will kill us for the next few months, it is undoubtedly our own stupidity. Unnecessarily hoarding stockpile of face masks has caused problem for those who really needs it a.k.a. those who are sick. When they can’t contain themselves, they will spread the virus to people around them. And sorry to brush your bubbles, wearing a face mask does not fully protects you from getting the virus. When people send masks to the outbreak epicentre, they get condemned immediately by the selfish individuals. In times like this, resources should be routed to those who are really in need in order to more effectively stop the pandemic, but I guess people will only care for themselves after all.

Don’t even get me started on those who wear mask inside-out, or those who did wear it on the correct side but yet not fitting them properly to cover their face. What’s even worse? People are reselling their stockpile of mask at overpriced rate to those who are desperately in need!

If we die, it will probably be due to our own doing

People in Singapore seems not content to hoard just the masks and sanitizers, they went out and continue their rampage to hoard on alcohol swap, followed by rice, canned food, instant noodles and rolls of toilet papers! What’s more, we have people scolding the Chinese in one hand, while on the other hand, the same person is not wearing a mask when he/she is feeling unwell! So what makes you different from the Chinese that you are scolding all day long? And it doesn’t end there, even the local medical personnel who worked day and night during this period were discriminated by the very own people they trying to save!

We can do better than this

So far, I only know of people in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan who are very vigilant when it comes to personal hygiene. During my trip to these countries, it is very common for me to see people wearing mask when they are feeling unwell. Sadly, this is not the case here in Singapore, even at critical time like this. Some complaint that government should hand out free mask, and when government did, they don’t even bother to collect and complaint “only giving out 4 pieces per house hold, that’s too little”.

Before we start to point our fingers on others, we should probably sit down and ask ourselves: Have we even done our part to stop the virus from spreading? I myself have not done enough on my part, I do not wear mask all the time when I was sick, and I should wash my hand a little more, and that’s what I set off to incorporate into my habit moving forward. Only when we take the first step of prevention, the spread of virus and diseases could be reduced.

Of course it wasn’t all bad in time like this. We have seen huge support from people who donated their wealth to the healthcare industry to combat the virus, and even small gesture like handing out free masks to those in need was heart warming. I really hope that everyone can just wake up and stop being so selfish. Everyone should start playing their part, otherwise the same saga will happen over and over again. It’s now or never.

So what should we do?

Wear a mask and seek for medical attention when you are feeling unwell. If you have been in contact with suspected cases or confirmed cases, report to the authority to arrange for quarantine or leave of absence. Ensure proper hygiene in your daily life. Eat well, sleep well to ensure your immunity stays strong. Avoid travelling to crowded places unless it is necessary.

Last but not least, make this as part of your habit and practice it daily even after this outbreak.

Best Read of 2019

I have read quite a lot of books this year, be it fiction, non-fiction, biography, self-help and so on. And here are my top 3 picks for the year, and I highly recommend everyone to read them too. Hope you will enjoy them as much as I do.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

Don’t be fooled by the title of this book. It certainly isn’t some fucking nonsense book that talks about nothing. The author discussed about why people felt entitled, how we can make a better decision to make our lives better, what we should be giving a fuck and not giving a fuck on, how we should embrace problems and difficulties for growth and so on.

To put it simply, this fucking book gives you some mind fuck and hopefully you will be able to unfuck yourself after reading it. To get a taste of what is being covered in this book, take a look at Mark’s website here.

Factfulness by Hans Rosling

This is another epic book that will surely gives you enough mind fuck. Facts are everywhere, readily available, literally been taught and stuffed into our head, but yet people can still get things so wrong, be so out of touch with reality, and keep believing in the falsehood that they believe in. I myself am guilty of this, and this book gave some guidance on how to be a little more mindful and factual in life, which hopefully lead to better decision making, less complaining and more optimistic.

Here’s a video of Hans in action:

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This is a memoir of Paul, a neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with cancer. It’s about the story of him fighting his life between work, family, life and illness. It’s not just an ordinary fiction or Korean drama where the main character get sick and died just for the sake of making you cry. This book is much more than that. It makes you think about life, about choices, about death, and the meaning behind those. All in all, a very nice read that will make you think and re-think about everything.

I am who i am, still.

 

I know my weakness, I do know. Well, I guess it’s my weakness, at least that’s what others perceive it. Along the years, I tried to change some of them, but not all were possible to be changed. Some old habit, some sticky behaviour, some fixated thoughts still remain.

For a start, I’m someone who doesn’t hide his words and feelings, who don’t give “face” when I don’t give a damn. I’d been trying hard to pretend, but it didn’t work well. It’s just not me. I’m trying to change a little of my approach nowadays, will still need to see if that gels with me.

I’m not afraid of offending people when I know they are in the wrong. I know a lot of people will take that as offensive, not forgiving, not caring, no empathy. I have tried to be a little more compassionate, but it had not always turned out well. So in the end, I’m still very much the own-self I am.

I’m not trying to justify myself being who I am here. This is more like a reflection piece for me, myself, as I reflect back and see how I could possibly move on. If I do offended anyone all these days, I’m sorry for that. Perhaps there are things that are harder to change, things closer to my values, things closer to my belief, things closer to my core personalities.

Of course there were instances where I probably can do better, and those are the lessons I need to learn and remember, and ensure the same mistake will never happen again. It’s a long way to go, and let’s see how it goes in the future. It takes time, but I’ll still try my best, and hopefully one day, I am a better me.

Are we getting “Smarter”?

Nowadays, everything seems to be getting “smarter”… Smart home, Smart phone, Smart TV… getting stuff connected to internet and create an app to control them seems to be on the rage and the new standard of defining “smart”… add in a few AI, Big Data, IoT and you have a full package to market it.

But with all these “smart” devices flooding into our lives, are we really getting smarter? Is our lives really improved? It reminds me of a few instances when I visited a couple of my friends’ home. Walking into the room, my friend will proudly show me his trick by using voice command to turn on the light or air-conditioner.

“Ok Google, turn on the lights.”
From the moment we step into the room, to my friend finished his command, to Google finally understood it and get the lights on… it took like 5-10 seconds? If I were to walk in the room and press the physical switch, it would take me probably… 1-2 seconds?

“But… it’s cool!”
“This is the future! Voice command and hands free!”
“I don’t want to be left behind! I must be at the forefront of technology!”

Sadly, a lot of people just don’t seems to understand what they are getting themselves into. To me, I don’t see a point of wasting 10 seconds to replace a task that can be done in 1 second. It just doesn’t add up, why automate something that’s already been so efficient to begin with?

Now, that’s not to say I’m against the idea of… say a smart home. In fact I find that there are quite a lot of advantages (and disadvantages) of having everything connected to the internet. You can turn on or off appliances at home remotely, monitor power consumption, understand and study your usage behaviour or pattern, group several devices together and control them at once under scene mode… just to name a few of the good and meaningful things that you can and should be doing with your smart home.

Collecting data, providing insights and control in improving life, automation… these are genuine reasons for us to celebrate “smart” devices, but to turn on a switch in front of you with voice instead of your hand? Oh please… Okay, I might be pissing people with this post. I’m not trying to make fun of anybody. If you want to be cool, want to be ahead of times, then invest a little more time into doing some of the things that really harvest the best of technology.

We all can get a little “smarter” with all the smart devices around us, but we still need to take the effort to do so. Having the devices alone will not be enough, we still need to think, understand and extract the best of them, just like how we have been living our lives in the pre-smart era.