Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Welcome 2009!

The last minutes of 2008... are there reasons to celebrate? Should I give myself a pat on the back for my good behaviour? Or lament on the things that I should have done but did not do?

At this time, the forest is calm and the sound of the crickets and insects are as soothing as ever. It is a peaceful night, so peaceful that I could easily forget the bustling crowd and celebrations going on in every part of the world. It feels just like any other day, so why are we all celebrating?

What is the significance of a new year?

A time to reflect on the year that just passed perhaps, if we have not done so previously. All the new year resolutions that we made, have we make good those promises?

As I looked back, I think I have lived an exciting year. No major breakthrough, but many fun and fulfilling months, doing things that I love. Travelled to Europe 2 times and many other cities in Asia; read 2 great books (so great that they have somewhat changed my life); moved house; made someone else's dream come true.

The world, on the other hand, is in a state of turmoil. We don't need lengthy discussions here of the major world events which occured in 2008. By tomorrow, these will be covered in every newspaper. The fact that I can sit here at ease, despite all that have happened in the world lately, and watch the stars sparkle so bright in the sky, is indeed a blessing. When I think of many of those who are living in misery and dire conditions, I wonder what I have done to deserve such happiness. Nevertheless, I am grateful for all that I have and do not have. 每一天都感恩!

Just like in the past, tonight is the time to renew my new year wishes. They have not changed, but have reduced from 3 to 2. I wish for health for all my family and friends and for a more peaceful world.

Tomorrow will be a better day. 2009 will be a better year.

May I propose a toast, with my red Bordeaux. Happy New Year to all!

Sunday, 28 December 2008






还有呢,在密密麻麻的城市及分界线之中,有一些令人不解和尴尬的局面。两岸三地是什么立场?南韩、朝鲜之间的DMZ (Demilitarized Zone 非军事区) 算什么?以色列和巴勒斯坦为什么老是分不清界线?这些历史所遗留下来的难题,我们这一代人真的有能力解决吗?






为世界添一些美丽色彩!2009 到了,你也别再冷漠了吧!

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Dummy guide to flowchart

Click to enlarge

I am amused.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Happy Xmas






Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Life is...

I read this somewhere, it's from the bible. Though I am not a Christian I found it very beautifully written.

Maybe this is what life is all about.

传 道 书 Ecclesiastes

凡 事 都 有 定 期 , 天 下 万 务 都 有 定 时 。

生 有 时 , 死 有 时 。
栽 种 有 时 , 拔 出 所 栽 种 的 , 也 有 时 。
杀 戮 有 时 , 医 治 有 时 。
拆 毁 有 时 , 建 造 有 时 。

哭 有 时 , 笑 有 时 。
哀 恸 有 时 , 跳 舞 有 时 。
抛 掷 石 头 有 时 , 堆 聚 石 头 有 时 。
怀 抱 有 时 , 不 怀 抱 有 时 。

寻 找 有 时 , 失 落 有 时 。
保 守 有 时 , 舍 弃 有 时 。
撕 裂 有 时 , 缝 补 有 时 。
静 默 有 时 , 言 语 有 时 。
喜 爱 有 时 , 恨 恶 有 时 。
争 战 有 时 , 和 好 有 时 。

这 样 看 来 , 作 事 的 人 在 他 的 劳 碌 上 有 什 么 益 处 呢 ?
我 见 神 叫 世 人 劳 苦 , 使 他 们 在 其 中 受 经 练 。

神 造 万 物 , 各 按 其 时 成 为 美 好 。 又 将 永 生 安 置 在 世 人 心 里 。然 而 神 从 始 至 终 的 作 为 , 人 不 能 参 透 。

我 知 道 世 人 , 莫 强 如 终 身 喜 乐 行 善 。
并 且 人 人 吃 喝 , 在 他 一 切 劳 碌 中 享 福 。 这 也 是 神 的 恩 赐 。

我 知 道 神 一 切 所 作 的 , 都 必 永 存 , 无 所 增 添 , 无 所 减 少 。 神 这 样 行 , 是 要 人 在 他 面 前 存 敬 畏 的 心 。

现 今 的 事 早 先 就 有 了 。 将 来 的 事 早 已 也 有 了 。 并 且 神 再 寻 回 已 过 的 事。

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

Thursday, 18 December 2008


是谁... 是谁?

是谁... 是谁?




Friday, 12 December 2008

In the meantime while the network is down...

Once in a year, there should be a day like this, when the network connection is down, email is not responding and the server switches broken. Although the telephone lines are still working right, there isn’t a single buzz all morning, as if they too are part of a conspiracy to disconnect us from the rest of the world.

This reminds me of moments when I would feel completely cut-off and isolated. At the airport boarding area, I would switch off my mobile phone well in advance of boarding time. Fellow passengers scattered loosely on the benches nearby, leaving a gap of at least one empty seat between each other. They understood, as much as I did, that there are times when people simply needed an extra space.

No familiar faces, no possibility of receiving phone calls, not even a friendly smile from the stranger when our eyes met. Isolation. Feelings of isolation took different forms on different occassions. At times, I felt delighted, as if I have finally become a worthy rebel who escaped reality by simply being uncontactable. Other times, it was destitution. I was the loneliest person on earth.

As the IT team tries to salvage the broken connections, I could do nothing but feel “trapped” inside the office. To be in a place where I should be in and not doing things that I am used to doing creates anxiety. Somewhat similar to that of a person being trapped in a place that he should not be in and doing things that he is not used to doing.

With all the time in the world we now have, our attention is redirected to those menial tasks, those which we have been too busy to attend to on all other days of the year. Housekeeping! At least something good came out of this IT glitch; the office is now spic and span.

City dwellers often complain that their paces of life are too fast and that they have no time to do this thing or that thing. What they need is probably a “day off” like this one, to take stock of their lives by doing some "housekeeping". Breakaway from routines, put work aside, disconnect from people in your network; return to nature, listen to it, smell it and immerse in solitude. For solitude has amazing healing powers; it tames the beast living inside us, allows us to dwell on past successes and failures and most importantly, forces us to be judges of our own characters. In solitude, it is often not loneliness that is most insufferable, but the reflection of your true self that is hardest to bear.

So people who are afraid of being alone are perhaps only afraid of finding out who they really are. Are you your own best friend or your worst enemy? Find out in isolation.

It helps, of course, when the network is down.

Written by John Lennon

People say we got it made
Don't they know we're so afraid?
We're afraid to be alone
Everybody got to have a home

Just a boy and a little girl
Trying to change the whole wide world
The world is just a little town
Everybody trying to put us down

I don't expect you to understand
After you've caused so much pain
But then again, you're not to blame
You're just a human, a victim of the insane

We're afraid of everyone
Afraid of the sun
The sun will never disappear
But the world may not have many years

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Quote of the Day - Tolstoy

This is an interesting one. I will pin it down here for future reference.

I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means—except by getting off his back.

~ Leo Tolstoy

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Food for thoughts

When I was a kid, my mother used to threaten to send me to Ethiopia when I was picky about food. She wanted me to have a taste of starvation; then I would learn to appreciate the many good things (and food) I already possessed.

That was over 20 years ago. In the mid-1980s, Ethiopia suffered 2 great famines, mainly the results of unfavourable weather conditions and civil wars within the country. At that time, Ethiopia was synonymous with starvation and malnutrition. I remember distinctively, the pictures of children with matchstick-like arms and legs, carrying protruding rib cages or ballooned stomachs. They were featured on posters and other publicity materials, appealing for donations and aid. Despite “high-key publicity” by the media and international community rushing to provide support, over 8 million people became victims of the famines and 1 million died.

I wish we can simply attribute poor harvests and famines to harsh climates and other natural factors, but man are often the ones to aggravate the conditions further.

In the list of famines of the 20th century, China scored top place in terms of number of deaths as a result of starvation. From the late 50s to the 60s, China went through a series of reforms. One of such reforms that led to dire consequences was the Great Leap Forward (大跃进). Eager to develop its agricultural and industrial sectors, radical changes were implemented throughout country. Steel production became the "in" thing and heavy resources were poured into this activity. Backyard furnaces were set up and peasants were even asked to contribute their pots and pans to provide raw material for the production. At the same time, collectivisation of farm lands was introduced. The government hoped that through central control and monopolisation of agriculture, grains can be bought cheaply and then sold at high prices in order to raise funds necessary to support the ongoing industrialisation efforts.

Unfortunately, the outcomes of these "reforms" were none according to expectations. Due to the lack of knowledge and expertise, steel production was not very successful and mostly poor quality iron was produced. Farm lands and harvests were neglected as masses of labour had been diverted from agriculture to steel production. Crops were left to rot. There was also a general lack of motivation for peasants to farm the lands after collectivisation. Coupled with locusts attack, flood, drought and poor weather conditions, food shortage became a serious issue in China during the early 1960s. According to official statistics, 11 million people died of starvation during the Great Leap Forward years. Western researchers however estimated the number to be between 20 - 40 million.

Looking at the numbers give me jitters, although I cannot quite imagine how extensive the effect must have been felt. As a matter of fact, I never did understand the meaning of hunger until I came face to face with it while I was in Mongolia in 2005. A few teenagers were fighting over a box of fruit juice given to them by a tourist. A small charitable act it was, yet, the impact was tremendous. As they fought, some of them fell down, one was injured, others screamed. In the end, most were crying.

There is also the "Tale of the dilemma bun" from Mongolia, which I am still telling friends sometimes.

It is hard to forget a scene like this, but in the few years which followed, I meet others who were more or less in the same plight, if not any worse than the Mongolian teens. There was an elderly woman who begged for food instead of money, who accepted my gift of a half eaten packet of pancakes. Then, there was a child covered with dirt, who grabbed my ankle, whom I dragged along as I walked away, crying as if there would be no tomorrow if I did not leave behind a single cent for him.

There is a Chinese saying that "外国的月亮比较圆" (the moon in a foreign country is rounder). This, I beg to differ. The further the distance in the world that I travelled , the more I realise I should cherish all that I have at home.

In this Christmas season when food is in abundance, probably even excessive, we should be grateful for every grain of rice and wheat that we are able to put on our tables. We should also be mindful not to be overly generous with our Christmas menus, for it is good to have plentiful but when they become wastages, that's a different matter altogether.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Moving on

Finally come too close to the deadline for handing over the old house. Despite my reluctance, I had to "burn" one Sunday just to clear out the old stuff from the house.

I dread going back to the old house sometimes. It feels so sad and lonely, not only because it now looks run down and empty, but also there seem to be an unbearable sense of loss in the air, perhaps of the youth that was lost to time and those unfulfilled promises.

Packing up memories is a very hard thing to do. Some of them fit into boxes, others, well, they will be lost to the void if not already sealed in my heart. As I picked up those bits and pieces, I smiled and I frowned. I think I have become a sentimental fool somehow, living between the past and the present, tormented by things that were once good but are now gone forever. I feel old suddenly, as I look at how much memories I have accumulated over the years.

These cards and drawing I received from my sister when she was a toddler haven't fade off much, though she is now all grown up, graduated from the university and got her first job. Despite all the years, she is still naive, careless and making mistakes. But who am I to complain? Even being much older than her, I am still learning the lessons of life and is a constant worry to my parents. And I wonder if she still loves me as much as she did when she wrote me the Christmas card that year.

The only thing that hasn't change is that the "necklace" she gave me on my birthday years ago remains an imaginery one.

Letters and cards from friends all over the world whom I have not met or spoken to for over 10 years. I cannot imagine how we could have lost contact, even though email and internet have brought the world closer together in the meantime. Everytime I look at these, I regret that I did not do enough to preserve our friendships. There is nothing more I want now than to hear that they are all doing well. But at least we have shared some happy times together and these old envelopes and stamps will be our witnesses.

For a very long time, I have kept all the letters from my ex-boyfriend but they were unfortunately destroyed some years back when I learnt that he was getting married (:-P). Don't misunderstand that I did it out of anger or distraught, but it was a promise we made to each other that we would start life afresh, without clinging on to anything between us from the past. Now I realised we were fools, for those people and things that are not meant to be yours will never be yours, no matter how close you keep them by your side. And what harm can a few letters and photographs do? It would no doubt bring some joy and maybe a little embarrassment if I were to re-read those letters now.

I remembered he wrote something about "forever" in one of his letters to me. That "forever" he promised me turned out to be too long to wait. Instead, "forever" between us has taken another form. Some memories are very selfish, particularly those from your first romance. They will live forever, even if you don't tell anyone and don't talk about it anymore. He will always have a place in my heart, sunk deep into my ocean of secrets eternally. Likewise, I know, he will never forget me.

Old photographs. My life would have been an illusion if not for these photos to prove the past. It saddens me greatly that I am no longer in contact with anyone of the people inside.

My first Identity Card. Where has that young girl with pointed chin gone to? Ah... I have aged.

Make a guess but I bet you won't get the age of this sly looking fat cat ballon correct. It has been at least 12 years, a gift that I got during one of my first dates. Look closely, he has a lot of freckles (老人斑), but he is still not "dead"... haha! I think he has many more years to live.

This new place, amidst the enchanting forest, is now where I call home. It is filled with new furnitures, new curtains, new space, ready to embrace new hopes. There will be some day in the future, perhaps, when this place too will become old and empty, too will tell sad and lonely tales, for life is, fundamentally, transient and nothing is permanent. So, I will keep some more boxes and pages in my album empty, to collect those memories that will form inside this house and beyond it.

Friday, 5 December 2008

又说“Happy Birthday”

曲:王力宏 词:王力宏/陈镇川

这世界很复杂 混淆我想说的话
我不懂 太复杂的文法
什么样的礼物 能够永远记得住
让幸福 别走得 太仓促

云和天 蝶和花 从来不需要说话
断不了 依然日夜牵挂
唱情歌 说情话 只想让你听清楚
我爱你 是唯一 的倾诉

写一首简单的歌 让你的心情快乐
爱情就像一条河 难免会碰到波折
这一首简单的歌 并没有什么独特
好像我 那么的平凡却又深刻

我一直 在思考 让你了解我的好
却忘了 常常对你微笑
失去的 忘记的 我会尽力去弥补
你是我 最珍贵 的财富

写一首简单的歌 让你的心情快乐
爱情就像一条河 难免会碰到波折
这一首简单的歌 并没有什么独特
好像我 那么的平凡却又深刻
深刻 简单的歌 简单的歌
写一首简单的歌 让你的心情快乐
爱情就像一条河 难免会碰到波折
这一首简单的歌 并没有什么独特
好像我 那么的平凡却又深刻