Hiatus

This is rather personal, and I’ve wondered whether to write about it. But oh well, that’s the beauty of being anonymous(ish), you can wear your heart on your sleeve and write really personal stuff. And besides this is supposed to serve as a diary of sorts.

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I will have to take an indefinite break from writing here. Since a month or so ago, I’ve taken on a second job to address my current financial situation. Nothing dire or desperate, for now, but it’s best I’ve rolled up my sleeves higher and got to work to start to fix it before it gets to that stage. There are also two or three things I want to do or buy so I want to save up for that as well.

It’s kinda hard, to be honest. And it’s fucking depressing to be in this situation at this stage of my life. Not cute or funny in your twenties, so yeah, depressing and downright scary in your forties.

But when I feel a tad too whiny, I try to correct my attitude by telling myself that I’ve committed a crime (quite apt actually to think of it that way, not planning for financial stability for your future as a crime) and the judge has punished me to two years of hard labour. And I feel a bit better. As far as hard labour goes, my second job is easy.

And a funny coincidence: someone asked me what I thought of the shitty food they serve at the cafeteria there. I politely lied, “It’s okay.”, but inside I was thinking, “I‘ve never been to prison before, but I imagine this is what prison food looks and tastes like.

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Between that and my regular job, and a sick cat I still have to attend to on a daily basis with medicine and feedings via a syringe (because she’s just not eating on her own, poor thing), and other cats (mah babies!) regular housekeeping (because I’m a bit of a neat freak), regular exercise to keep healthy (I try), and some other even more boring-sounding things (but I want/have to do them anyway) there is just no time to write. Priorities.

It makes me sad because this space is the only writing I do, a hobby I’m fond of. But I’m just too exhausted all the time. I sit my ass in front of the computer and within minutes my eyelids start to get heavy. So sleepy, so very tired.

More than the writing I’ll definitely miss regularly going through the blogs I follow. All the wonderful photography, poetry, reviews and and other stuff I’ve had the privilege to enjoy these past few years. I’ll try to drop by every so often.

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Not to be a drama queen or anything *laughs*, but I just have this song going on in my head now. It’s my favourite MIchelle Branch song, too. I’ve always loved it.

The Tiny House as an option for refugees

The best option of course is to have the bleeding stopped at its source. Western powers and other armies of the world coming together in a cohesive force and wiping out ISIS once and for all. European Union countries despatching humanitarian contingents with aid to the various countries (whether in Middle East or North Africa, et al.)  from where most of the refugees have come in a endless stream, to try stem some of the flow by working together with the governments of those countries.

If I accidentally cut myself and find myself bleeding away profusely, I don’t get busy trying to endlessly mop up the mess of blood pooling around my legs, because I’d eventually lose too much blood and then faint and die. I would try to bandage the wound first. But of course that makes me an idealist.

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By now the refugee crisis in Europe have reached a staggering level, with Germany alone expected to receive 800,000 asylum applications this year, representing 1% of its population. As if that’s not bad enough, recent albeit unofficial reports put the arrivals at a higher figure. And then consider that, whatever the figure for Germany or other European countries, it still pales on a global basis because Europe apparently hosts around only 16% of refugees. It is developing countries that are hosting about 4 out of 5 refugees, according to a UN report I came across. Therefore the vast majority of refugees are suffering horribly in camps because the majority of countries generously hosting them are poor themselves and not providing adequate care to their own citizens. From this report, I read that the top 5 countries hosting the most refugees are Ethiopia at No.5 with 236,000 refugees in 2014 alone, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Turkey at No.1 with 1.2 million refugees admitted in 2014 alone.

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I wonder if a Tiny House is a feasible option to consider for some of the refugees, for the countries that can afford to arrange this. I’ve always thought they were a great idea for the homeless in any city in the world, but I wonder if the Tiny House model could be applied on a much bigger scale for refugees now residing in tents and other camps. I got to thinking about this after watching a news segment about how the ones already in Europe are struggling to cope with the cold weather and a fast approaching winter.

Thinking out loud:

  • How low can the price of a Tiny House go? Especially if the parts are ordered on a massive scale to bring the price down?
  • If one costs $5000, building 1000 will set the government back $5 million. That’s nothing in govt. spending, but hundreds of thousands of refugees are involved here. So maybe build the first 1000 Tiny Houses and see how it goes from there?
  • And if the private sector and rich individuals get involved in chipping in to help with the cost? How many thousands more can be built?
  • Each unit would ideally house four persons, so at least 1 double bed and a futon that can be unfolded to a mattress to sleep another two.
  • The refugees themselves will be the manpower to build the houses. That’s a win for the government in cutting costs, and a win for the refugees too, regaining some dignity after having to be in such a desperate situation. Win-win.
  • The Tiny House is not just temporary housing to protect the refugees and other homeless against the elements, but should be meant to be a ‘permanent solution’ for those granted asylum status. This is bearing in mind that refugee situation can stretch into years or decades. The sooner they are settled in a warm home, learn the rules and laws of the land, learn to speak and write the language, learn the required skills to work, the sooner they can be less of a burden and contribute to the country.
  • Which means the Tiny Houses would have to be durable and should have some semblance of a real home
  • Toilets. I guess waste management will be the biggest headache in terms of cost.
  • Ikea! Get Ikea and their designers to come up with designs. And design and architectural students to come up with affordable, sustainable and durable designs.
  • Areas zoned to set up ‘villages’ of these Tiny Houses, the layout carefully planned so inhabitants can have access to community centres, schools, grocery shops, public transport, etc, that are set up to serve a cluster of villages.
  • When the infrastructure of these villages and their inhabitants have settled down in the future, option-to-buy to can come into the picture. Maybe that’s too far into the future, but I’m just thinking that hopefully some years from now, the situation with the countries at war (e.g. Syria) will have improved, with the help of the European countries affected (e.g. Germany), so that some of the refugees can return home as I’m sure many want to. No one doesn’t love their country. But for those staying, the option to buy could be looked into.

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I’m more into ‘traditional’ designs as opposed to modern especially minimalist ones. But the following Tiny House looks beautiful.

This is an amazing video of this guy in China, Ma Yihe, President of Yingchuang New Materials, and his 3D printed houses. Somebody managing a refugee crisis centre in Europe and anywhere else need to check this out seriously to see if this can be applied to their centre. 10 houses in 24 hours?! Just in time for winter!

An interesting video about a guy and his family in America and their dream of building a Tiny House. They bought a camper, stripped that totally right to the base and started from there. It took a year and this is the journey from start to finish.

I have so much respect for this lady Jenine Alexander. Never again will I brag about sewing my own curtains. Armed with heaps of ingenuity and determination, and a lot of hard work, she built a house!

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I have admired the Tiny House idea ever since I came across it years ago. It’s the ultimate fantasy for me when it comes to future residence. To own a small patch of land somewhere in a country like Malaysia, Italy or New Zealand, an area just small enough to have a Tiny House and a kitchen garden to grow a bit of my own herbs and vegetables. Yeah, okay, the fact that I’m shit at gardening does dent a bit the romantic fantasy bubble in my head haha, but I can always learn to be good at it.

My dream Tiny House looks something like this black beauty below

or like this

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Related (Refugees):

Related (Tiny Houses):

Some interesting information about the Tiny House Movement in the American context, presented in this beautiful graphic from custommade.com.

Of burning down houses or keeping lovers warm

I really like this spoken poetry thing, or spoken word, rather. Well at least the bunch of videos I’ve been watching earlier this evening, one after another. Maybe I came across the art form before, I don’t remember, but a post from Gaybros led me to the following video featuring this gentleman named G.Yamazawa.

He just blew me away. It’s almost painful to hear his words, yet I’ve watched it a few times now.

I’ve felt a phrase fall out of my mouth like an atom bomb without knowing the effects will radiate for years.

I wish I can say I’ve only been the recipient of such atom bombs. It’s always better to be hurt than to hurt. But I know that, just as I’ve been hurt, over the years I too have said some awful things to some people I wish I can take back but of course I can’t.

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Another one I really enjoyed, because I can relate to it as well, is the following featuring Kevin Yang.

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What makes me happy

It’s finally over! The 100 Days of Happiness Challenge thing! I did it!

*sigh of relief*

*then, overcome by emotion, hangs head and starts to weep. Shoulders start to shake violently as wrenching sobs take over. *

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Not really! But most of the time it was fun trying.

That’s it? A mere sigh and some tears of happiness? No dammit, this calls for fireworks!

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Gif from Buzzfeed, via the Pinterest of ‘Great Walt Disney World Tips’. Click to go there.

I have to admit, the first pangs of regret started to creep in after a few weeks. It seemed like a fun thing to do… before I started doing it. I don’t know what the heck I was thinking, doing this when I already knew I’m just not a daily poster. It’s just that, it seemed like a meaningful thing to do. I still feel that way about it, actually.

I’m prone to whining to myself about the small things. This 100-day challenge was going to challenge me to take a closer look at some of the small things around me that at the back of my mind, I knew made me happy, but I didn’t really appreciate properly. Things I perhaps tend to brush aside, and all while whining and complaining about other stuff.

A few times I wanted to give up the challenge, thinking, “Oh, this is silly. What’s the point, really?

I think I’ve said “Because it’s important to me that I finish what I start.” And even, “Because I don’t like not finishing what I’ve started.” as if I’m the epitome of discipline or something, when I’m not. It’s actually just about pride, haha. I’d be embarrassed if people see I’ve given up, that I’ve quit, even though really, who cares. It was like announcing to friends and family my previous attempts to stop smoking. When I lit up again, it was always embarrassing. It’s such a relief to finally quit some years ago, by the way.

(Edit 4th May: Having said that, about the previous failed attempts to stop smoking, I must add that any effort whether involving success or failure is still an important part of any journey, and always useful for the lessons it teaches and also serving as another stepping stone to the next effort.)

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Some things the challenge taught me about myself:

  • I love and appreciate flowers more than I realised. I didn’t realise I like orchids all that much. They’re so common. But they are now officially my favourite flowers, specifically purple ones.
  • I love food a bit too much. I’ve always known this, but the challenge forces me to face it more than I want to. I’m not obese, but I’ve been needing to lose some kilos since… forever. My love for food is why even though I exercise regularly, I just can’t shake off the weight. I think different bodies work differently, and for mine to be trim, I need to focus 75% effort on diet, 25% on exercise. At the moment it’s the reverse. Oh, this is old news. Just something the challenge shoved to my face time and again.
  • I realised (I’m actually startled, to be honest) that perhaps I might kinda somewhat not appreciate my partner enough. I think it’s because we don’t just live together, we work together, so we already spend so much time together during working hours. So when we get home, we tend to retreat to our own space and be engrossed with our own things. And also, I look sloppy and dress like shit when around just him, whether at home or out! Just because I don’t need to impress him!
  • I’ve found I enjoy hanging out in the kitchen while he cooks, to chat more with him. We should do more stuff together instead of just work or sit slumped on the sofa watching TV, without a word. I need to blog less and spend more time with him. We both need to spend less time surfing online.
  • I actually really love long walks, much more than I realised. I do it not just for the exercise, but for my need to get away from the congestion. Long walks are effective in helping me find some peace of mind. I should get Bert to come with me.
  • I’m a lone ranger. I’ve always known that, but I’m at my happiest and calm and secure when it’s just me and Bert.
  •  I didn’t realise I enjoy art so much. For example, I like looking at sculptures when I happen to come across them. They’re not just something pretty I glance at quickly and then move on. I should get out more often and visit our museums and see more exhibitions. Explore more parks.

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Related:

  • The post by Peter of the blog Peterisms, which introduced me to the challenge.

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Day 100 of ‘100 Happy Days‘.

:-)

Squirrel

I was just so happy when I spotted this cheeky little guy. Or gal. It’s not often that I’m lucky enough to spot such delightful creatures. Once in a blue moon, some exotic-looking bird, (exotic to me as in unusual colouring or marking even if a tad) would land on a branch within sight, and I’d get all excited. I’d be in such awe, haha. We live in such a concrete jungle.

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Gnawing away on a coconut to get to the delicious flesh inside.

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Ravaged! Those are some powerful teeth. I wouldn’t pet him even if he lets me, lest he’s neurotic or feeling cranky and decides to have a go at one of my fingers.

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So very cute.

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Day 97

 

Dream garden in HortPark

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Of the many theme gardens at the park dubbed ‘the gardening hub‘, this is the one that makes me sigh and smile wistfully. Not nearly as conventionally pretty as the other more manicured gardens featured there, but I’ve always loved vegetable gardens, even before I came across the ‘Grow Food, Not Lawns‘ thing online.

So lovely to have your own space to grow some of your vegetables. Doesn’t have to be as big as this, not even by half, just a little bit of space. Doesn’t have to be your entire supply of vegetables if that’s not possible. Even the privilege of growing just a tiny bit would still be exhilarating and fun and fulfilling.

Some other photos from HortPark.

A few pictures from the Pinterest of Cristyane Lamastra-Conner that made me swoon. Click the images to go to her site.

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Not just a vegetable garden but a vertical vegetable garden. Wow.

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Day 95

Liebster Award

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I’m happy to have an award called Liebster, kindly passed forward to me among other bloggers, from Steven of Moods Aplenty, a blog I love to read because Steven writes with wit and a friendly tone, about various topics including interesting game shows, and also posts his lovely artwork such as portraits.

This is I think the second Liebster that has been kindly passed to me. And there are others too I’ve gotten before. I love and appreciate all of them!

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One thing about awards is that, as much as I sincerely appreciate and am truly thankful by the lovely gesture, I’m… oh God, I’m embarrassed to admit this. But there’s no other way around it if I want to be honest. The thing is that I’m too lazy to participate in the ritual of these awards. *covers face with hands*.

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1. The first ritual, or official rule if you choose to accept the award that I’m reluctant to participate is answering the list of questions to let other people know more about myself. I don’t really like to talk about myself. Maybe it’s lack of self-esteem or whatever, but I think I’m boring and I don’t want to bore other people. I think I bore even myself, haha. So don’t feel sorry for me. It’s not just that I’m afraid to bore other people, but that I know I will bore myself, and of course I don’t want to do that to myself, so… yeah. So I don’t like to talk about myself. I like to talk about the things I’ve seen and like, movies, books, food and flowers, whatever, but not about myself personally. And as I type all this, my fingers keep falling asleep at the keyboard and I keep having to correct typing mistakes! See, I told you I bore myself talking about myself! Now I’ll try to keep awake as I go on talking even more about myself.

Having said that, I will admit I love reading other bloggers talk about themselves, so I like reading their answers to the questions on their list. I’m nosey that way.

2. The second official rule if you choose to accept that I’m too lazy to follow, is to nominate maybe ten blogs to pass the award to. Okay, that just makes me a selfish jerk. I’m happy and flattered other bloggers thought of me and passed it on to me, yet the thought of coming up with a list of other bloggers to pass it to makes my fingers yawn and fall asleep at the keyboard again. Yep, no way to pretty that up or joke about it to make me less jerky. Guilty as charged. But please pretty please don’t dislike me! Because I’m really a mostly nice person! At least I think so.

3. The third official rule if you choose to accept that I’m hesitant to follow, is to come up with a list of questions for the bloggers you wish to pass the award to. I’m just not witty or clever enough to come up with a set of witty interesting questions that will make people smile or laugh. That is all.

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Now I wish to note WHAT I LOVE ABOUT AWARDS even though I’m too lazy to participate in them:

  1. The kindness of all the bloggers who have passed on an award to me. If you’re reading this, thank you so very much, sincerely and truly.
  2. Reading and learning more about all the abovementioned sweet bloggers, in their writing about themselves as part of the award.
  3. Seeing the name of my blog on the list of blogs that are ‘nominated’. It’s such a lovely and thoughtful gesture that always touches me.
  4. Seeing the names of the other blogs who have also been ‘nominated’. I think of this as an introduction to the awarding blogger’s reading list. I love this (being nosey and all) and I always check them all out one by one as soon as I have the time.

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I think what I will do sometime is to start a page to ‘compile’ the awards that had been given to me. I intend to display each one, and note down the name of the blogger who kindly gave it to me. Not having participated in the ‘official rules’, I guess that means I have not ‘chosen to accept‘ the awards as specified in those official rules, so I hope it’s still okay to display them not in a widget on the home page but in a dedicated page. I just want to acknowledge the kindness of the bloggers who gave them to me, and link back to them, as a matter of personal gesture of appreciation, even though of course I have thanked them on their blog.

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Day 92

USB card-sized catalogues

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I don’t know how long these have been in the market, maybe for a long time already. What a cute little thing. We had requested some information from a furniture maker in Italy for a client, and besides the regular book-form catalogues, they also sent us the catalogues as PDF files, contained in a USB flash drive. Nothing unusual about that, but it’s the first time I’ve seen this type of flat USB tool, where it’s presented in a credit card or namecard style of form. Pretty nifty.

I imagine you can use it for a whole array of purposes. Not just for businesses as catalogues and corporate gifts but for individuals. For example, job seekers can fill it with their CVs, and not just the document itself, but pictures and videos of their extra-curricular activities. Designers and other artists can use it as portfolios of their selected works. Yes, sure, most designers have websites for that, but I just find the idea cool that when you hand out your namecard to give people your contact details, you can also give them a sample of your work in the same card.

The size of the device as something you can slip into your pocket or wallet is not such a big deal, as the regular USB flash drives are now really small too. Again, it’s just the idea of a namecard and portfolio in the same place that I like. I wonder if namecard printers now provide the service of printing on these ‘USB cards’, and whether these cards are available in the market like stationery shops, for individuals to buy in packs of only a few pieces, say, 5 to 10 pieces. If they are, then we can simply print out our details ourselves on transparent sticker sheets, to paste on these USB cards to serve as our namecards.

Related:

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Day 88

 

Visitor Centre at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

I’ve always loved ‘traditional’ architecture. To me, it’s not only more beautiful but when it comes to low-rise buildings like double-storey houses, make more sense for example in terms of ventilation.

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I felt such happiness when I came across it at the beginning of my walk there with a friend. Even though it’s not a house. As indicated the above is the Visitor Centre at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

In Thailand, specifically Chiang Mai, they are still making houses that look similar to this, and I think that’s so incredibly cool. I came across new residence that look something like that in recent years. It’s wonderful they still have an appreciation for traditional architecture even when it comes to constructing modern homes with all the modern facilities.

Maybe I’m wrong, but unfortunately this is not the case in Singapore and Johor Bahru. What I’ve seen are only typically modern architecture when it comes to the design of new landed properties, whether terrace, semi-detached or bungalows. What’s crazy is that the interior of these houses (the showrooms I’ve been to in J.B. in recent years) are so damn hot. You need to switch on the aircon almost immediately upon entering. There seems to be hardly enough thought for ventilation, for airflow. The logical solution is to have ceiling fans in every room, yet from what I’ve observed in some houses I’ve visited, some people don’t like the look of ceiling fans, so what happens is the aircon is often switched on for long periods of time when they are home.

Here are a few photos I took of some of the new houses I saw in Chiang Mai the last time I was there a few years ago. So amazing and wonderful how there are people there who still love and appreciate their traditional architecture, and take inspiration from it for their new homes.

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A residence that was still under construction.

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Day 87

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A stroll up to Mount Faber Park

At the very start of the Southern Ridges, a 10km walk of trails, bridges and walkways, is the Marang Trail, located right next to Exit D of HarbourFront MRT station. It takes about just 15 minutes to walk the trail, climbing some steps to reach Mount Faber Park, the equivalent of a 24-storey building, according to a guide from the National Parks Board. Perfect for lunchtime, if you happen to be in the area. Grab a sandwich and a bottle of water, walk up there, and enjoy the view and relative quiet while you eat. I enjoy this short walk when I happen to be in the area.

Marang Trail

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Cable cars from the station at Mount Faber Park which go to Sentosa Island. A return ticket costs $26 for adults and $15 for kids aged 3 to 12.

Related:

Related to cable cars in last photo:

  • Singapore Cable Car’s website
  • Trip Advisor reviews of Cable Car
  • The Jewel Card – according to website, the card offers unlimited cable car rides for $39 for individual, and $99 for ‘family’. Click link if you wish to find out more.

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Day 76