No need to put others down to love ourselves

I came across the following meme quote or whatever you call it on someone’s social media account.

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As if it’s not enough some of us have to tackle prejudice from some straight people. So let’s turn on each other to spice life up further? So silly.

Except for the Madonna part (because I love her) I would say the description in the image would fit me to a T. I find the poster stupid, though. It’s supposed to be a joke, it’s not meant to be taken seriously, but that’s how something more serious starts. With a joke about other people, spreading the idea that they are inferior or undesirable in some way.

Or the occasional off-hand or snide remark thrown by an acquaintance, or disappointingly, someone closer like a friend? Buh-bye. Thanks for revealing what an asshole you actually are. I now know to avoid you from now on, because I value my time and my peace of mind.

It should have ended with “I just happen to be a man who likes men, but just as capable of being a hissy bitchy queen as any other gay man including those I just dismissed as a fucking cliche.

But yeah, okay, that would be too long and just not as sassy LOL.

Around The World by Daft Punk

I don’t celebrate Halloween. I think in Singapore it’s mainly a party thing, another theme for the nightclubs to provide more fun and variety in entertainment to their patrons. Last night though I was watching Daft Punk‘s music video for their song Around The World and I thought it would be nice to put it here today. It’s a tad spooky and lots of fun, just like what I think of Halloween. I think it’s so cool that the video is almost twenty years old and still awesome!

I’ve loved this video since I first came across it only a few years ago. Love how original it is for a music video, and love its choregraphy, costumes, stage design, everything else about it. From Wikipedia I found out that the choreographer of the video’s hypnotic and highly entertaining dance is Bianca Li, and that its director is Michel Gondry, the guy who directed the gorgeous Jim Carrey movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), for which he won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay as one of the writers.

Daft Punk is a French electronic music duo. Around The World is from their debut album Homework. Both were released in 1997. More recently they also achieved great success with the excellent song Get Lucky, a collaboration with Pharrell and Nile Rodgers. The album which the song came from, Random Access Memories, won Album of The Year and more at the 2014 Grammy Awards.

Oh here’s a cute Lego version too.

Supercute and supercool dancing bear in all of his fabulosity

I’ve been meaning to post this.

Last Friday night was Fap Friday Night, and my trusty go-to is Tumblr, where I came across this guy and his moves. I must have watched it twenty times in a row. I was hypnotized. He’s so incredibly adorable, in every way, but especially with that sweet, joyous smile right at the end. So cute.

What’s even better is that he has his own tumblr site. In the video below he has briefs on, but please note the website itself (j-mobear), which the link below leads to, contains nudity and is therefore NSFW.

Get ready to get hit by some gloriously fabulous moves.

If I have half his talent, I’d probably be confident enough to hit the dancefloor. I haven’t danced in years. I’m a terrible dancer, haha!

I can’t seem to find his name on his site, but here’s a cute photo of him. Cat person! Yay.

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Update 29 October 2015: It just occured to me I forgot to credit the Divine Miss M for teaching me the word ‘fabulosity’, which I first heard from her 1999 song ‘I’m Beautiful’.

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.

My new Pinterest

Every so often I would think of how this site needs pictures of some gorgeous hunks to liven it up a bit, or sometimes I want to share some images of some interior design that I like. But to write a post around a photograph that’s not even mine (by the way, the three photos below were taken by me), well I guess it’s okay once in a while, but I think it’s better to just use another platform such as Pinterest and just put the address of the site at the sidebar here if anyone is interested.

I should mention it now so as not to waste anyone’s time: To view the things on Pinterest, you have to join it by creating an account by providing your email address and creating a password. Anyway, my site is at: www.pinterest.com/simplehal

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Thistle Hotel, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Pinterest is a photo sharing website. It had proved to be useful for my work but I mainly use it as a way to relax. It’s like being sprawled on the sofa lazily leafing through a glossy magazine, but even lazier that that. Because if you come across something nice and you want to file it for whatever reason for later, it just takes a few clicks as opposed to ripping out a page or scanning it.

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Park Royal Hotel, Singapore

I enjoy using it as I get to file ideas, or just images that just strike me as interesting, in neat little folders. They call these folders ‘pinboards’ over there, and the images are the ‘pins’. The first time I used it was a few years ago when a friend asked me to design a shop he’s setting up. I was busy with work commitments, but still wanted to help in some way. I got the idea to start a Pinterest website to compile lots of ideas I thought would be relevant to him, and e-mailed him the address of the site so he could have a look anytime.

And then some time later when we were proposing the supply and installation of terracotta floor tiles for a client, she didn’t quite fancy what she saw in the few catalogues I had in the office. So again I turned to Pinterest to gather images to better relay to her what I think would work for her. The ideas were neatly divided into different pinboards like finish, layout, and pattern. Pinterest is useful and convenient like that.

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Rati Lanna Riverside Spa Resort, Chiang Mai, Thailand

You can also pin images you come across on other platforms, including Tumblr, which I’ve also used on and off for some time as a way to compile images. I used to have 2 or 3 Tumblr sites at any one time. One would be for work, for example design ideas and solutions. Another would be fitness-related for example fitness tips and motivational quotes. Another would serve as inspirational eye candy (let’s just call it that). Also for things like, you know, recipes, things like that. Then it got tedious, having so many sites. I barely use my Facebook as it is.

When I started this latest Pinterest, I thought I would painstakingly bring over all the images that I had collected on my Tumblr sites and previous Pinterest sites, but I decided that would be boring and tedious (read: I’m too lazy to do it). I’d rather just spend the hours idly looking at new images and ideas.

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Related:

  • sheknows.com – Pinterest: What it is, how to use it and why you’ll be addicted

The Pickpocket Huntress

I came across a video of this unique and amazing woman, Eliana Guerrero, who volunteers her time and effort to look out for pickpockets who prowl Barcelona’s subways. Why? Simply because she loves her city so much that it bothers her how the rampant crime affects its reputation, and she thinks, “Nobody is doing anything about this. Somebody has to do something about this.” So she went out and fiercely became that somebody.

Well, she shouldn’t be ‘that’ somebody but just ‘a’ somebody. Because there really should be other somebodies joining her to help their city.

She’s really risking her life and limb, the way I see it. Even ‘petty’ criminals like pickpockets can turn violent out of resentment or desperation when confronted, and they tend to work in gangs. I hope she stays safe.

And I imagine it is a largely thankless affair. I can imagine some people are annoyed at feeling alarmed and give her dirty looks when she blows her whistle or when she reminds them to sling their handbags in front of their body where they can see it. I hope she brushes off the negativity she suffers and stay strong, and always be proud of the very noble volunteer work she’s doing for Barcelona.

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I remember how Bert stopped a crime in progress a few years ago in Penang, Malaysia. We were there because I wanted to do a marathon (my first ever full marathon). We had visited the parking lot of a mall where the organizers were distributing the runner’s bag which contained stuff like the bib number. Then we went to the bus stop in front of the mall to get back to the hotel. Naturally there was a big crowd of people at the bus stop, so when our bus arrived it was a slow process getting to the door to board it because there were maybe more than 50 other people crowding around it waiting to board. There was no queue. It was quite chaotic.

Bert saw it before anyone else. A young guy some distance in front of us who had almost reached the door, with his hand already dipping into the bag hanging from the shoulder of the guy in front of him. Bert shouted at him, “Hey, stop! Yes, you! You with your hand inside his bag!” Everyone around us fell silent, shocked and wondering what the white guy was screaming about. The surprised pickpocket glared angrily at Bert for a moment, then shrugged, deciding to pretend not to know what Bert was referring to. Now alerted, the almost-victim snatched his bag in shock and hung it from his other shoulder. “I saw you! I saw what you were doing!” Bert continued to yell at the pickpocket. He stomped off, suddenly not interested in getting on the bus.

The almost-victim never thanked Bert. Idiot. That annoys me now, thinking about it, but I wasn’t thinking about it then. I probably didn’t even notice Bert wasn’t thanked. I was busy being in awe. My man is so cool. My heart was bursting with pride for him.

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Back to Ms. Guerrero in the video. This remarkable woman is not even from Barcelona, but is an immigrant from Colombia, and yet her love for Barcelona is so strong that she and her incredible sense of civic-mindedness do some amazing and potentially dangerous work to protect this city that she had grown to love. Her city. That’s food for thought about immigrants. That they can see and appreciate what we may take for granted, and end up loving our city or country as much as or even more than we do.

Every city in the world deserves a pickpocket huntress or two hundred. The video reminds me of the subways and touristy areas in places like Rome and Milan, cities I have visited several times. The subways there can be quite unpleasant. Even Bert who is a native Italian was targeted a few times, maybe because he was with me so they thought he was a tourist too. Thankfully we were never victims. Hopefully never.

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Related:

  • The Savvy Backpacker – How to Avoid Pickpockets in Europe — Tips for Outsmarting the Thieves
  • Life In Italy – A pickpocket’s tricks: How to Avoid Getting Robbed While On Vacation In Italy.
  • All Singapore Stuff – Woman’s handbag was cut and wallet stolen by thief at Ikea
  • Forbes – How to protect yourself from pickpockets and thieves when you travel (this one is a lengthy six-page article but contains an interesting and comprehensive list of tips)

No Sleeep feat. J. Cole: The Return of Ms. Jackson

I find myself going back to this time and again these past few days since I first heard it. The tune featuring her distinctive voice is catchy but very dreamy and relaxing. I love soulful slow jams like this.

This is her first single since ‘Nothing‘, which was released in 2010, so that’s a long absence especially from a megastar of her league.

I like the video for ‘No Sleeep‘ too. Especially for a ‘comeback’, it’s very laid-back. Not some outlandish epic production, but just a quietly exquisite effort that provides a good and suitable complement to the song, as what a music video should do.

It also contains a sweet tribute to her father Joe Jackson at around the 1-minute mark, with a black-and-white photograph of a much younger him posing together with baby Janet.

That sweet, famous smile is still a wonder to look at. And her wardrobe here, where she’s all covered up but still sleek and very stylish, topped with that gorgeous mane of hair, is so Janet.

I have read that she married a Muslim businessman from Qatar in 2012, and has therefore converted to Islam. But this is certainly not the first music video featuring a modestly attired Janet. One reason why her music videos that span her long career are so fascinating is her style which is always alluring and interesting, whether she’s sexily revealing or covered up. Of course it also helps that the woman is gorgeous right till today at 49. She can put on anything and still look good.

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I’m including the video for ‘Nothing‘ here since I love that last single as well. A very beautiful ballad that is a nice song to listen to right after the slow and sensuous ‘No Sleeep‘. ‘Nothing‘ is from the soundtrack for a movie called ‘Why Did I Get Married Too‘ (2010) in which she acted as well.

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Related:

 

 

Galaxy Cat

I came across this beautiful mural art at one side of Holland Village Market & Food Centre, the side that faces Haagen Dazs.

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Gorgeous, isn’t it. I find it fascinating, even as I feel a bit uneasy as I study it. It rekindles a suspicion deep inside me that I thought I had long banished.

That cats first came from outer space thousands of years ago, landing on our planet to enslave us. Cunningly working their way into our hearts with their fluffy cuteness and by pretending to be hopelessly derpy ever since. But we all know they are forever slyly plotting away in those pretty little heads of theirs on how to finally beat us into total submission. I have frequently caught my cats staring at me with a startlingly evil expression.They came close to domination with the ancient Egyptians, but all their effort backfired when they ended up being mummified along with the very masters they were seeking to destroy after seducing them. Progress has been slow ever since because they kept getting distracted into playtime by glittery things and puking out hairballs.

The designer of my keychain not only agrees with me, but thinks the situation is far more grim than I had thought.

Cats now rule the world

Anyway, back to the mural art.

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Detail 1

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Detail 2

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I am inspired by this artwork to call the next cat I adopt ‘Galaxy’. Or Gal, for short.

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Related:

Heel Pain

I’m starting to freak out now that it has dawned on me that the pain in the heel of my foot is just not going away. In late March (or April, I don’t quite remember) I went out for a jog for an hour, as I normally did about once to thrice a week. But this time I ended up with a very sore left foot the following day. I brushed it off. The pain gradually increased in the following week or so. I still wasn’t worried because it’s not uncommon for me to feel some pain or discomfort after running. I always just took it as my feet reacting to the strain, and it always went away after a few days max.

Now it’s been four months. The pain abates or returns with varying degrees. I didn’t really realise the length of time except for the occasional vague thought, “Shit, when is this pain finally going away? It’s been weeks.” The reason being that I was particularly busy with our projects at work, which required a lot of physical effort and me being on my feet, and walking briskly, so I just put up with the pain the best I could. After about a month of that, we moved house. About two weeks of stress and exhaustion in packing boxes and furniture and other stuff. Moving from one double-storey house to another means a lot of pounding the stairs to get many of those boxes and furniture from one floor to another. And after that it was immediately back to work again.

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I know an injured joint/muscle needs to rest to heal properly, but I just coudn’t give it enough of that, even when I was limping and hobbling on some days. In addition, I’ve always been a fast walker (even when I don’t need to be somewhere quickly). When the pain is unbearable, of course I can’t walk quickly, but even when the pain has mostly subsided for a while, I find it’s such a strain to keep reminding myself to walk slowly so that the foot can properly heal.

It was only around last month when I was thinking of how much I miss jogging, that I was startled into realising that I haven’t jogged for three whole months. Started to be alarmed and wonder why the pain in my foot stubbornly won’t go away. Tried to make myself feel better by thinking, “Okay, I’ll just walk for exercise since that’s all I can do now. Let’s see what happens.” Of course the idiot that I am, I was soon brisk-walking because seeing all the joggers running past me made me jealous and miserable. I brisk-walked for almost an hour, and the next day, the sharp pain in the heel hurt like hell all over again.

I started searching online to learn more. As with other subjects, there is so much info online that one can become overwhelmed or confused, and spend way too much time reading. So I picked and chose randomly what to read/watch as I just don’t have the time to read endless articles.  I learnt the basics that the area that is causing the pain in my foot is called Plantar Fascia, and the condition is called Plantar Fasciitis. It’s an apparently common affliction even among experienced athletes. It was both comforting and depressing at the same time to learn that it is common to suffer for months from this condition, as I have been. What scares me most is that some people end up having it as a chronic ailment for years. I can’t bear the thought of going through it again even once more after I’ve recovered, let alone over and over again for life.

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So no more marathons, even after I (hopefully) recover from this? My last one was back in 2012. I don’t want to be a pussy, but it’s such a massive pain in the ass (or heel, rather) that I would just be scared of getting this Plantar Fasciitis crap all over again. Because, oh my God, the pain when it comes…. and being out for months, without being able to jog, is just so… *sigh* … damn irritating and depressing, to be honest.

I can’t afford to see a podiatrist or whatever specialist, so I turned online to learn some stretches to help myself, including from the following video:

I also like the advice of the following doctor Gary Crowley who not only recommends some stretch exercise, but explains what each is for and how it may impact the treatment. He also reminds the viewer to note which works or doesn’t, as I suppose not all work for all bodies, so we have to learn for ourselves what specifically works for us.

I discovered his excellent website, Do-It-Yourself-Joint-Pain-Relief, some years ago while I was searching online to learn to cope with some lower back pain. I find his advice and instructions sensible and easy to follow. Of course, being me, I also have to mention the bonus that’s he’s goodlooking and pretty hot. Especially when he smiles.

Videos for Step 2 and Step 3 can be found on his Heel Pain Treatment‘ page.

Of trivia

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Image from Wikipedia. Click to go there.

I’m reading A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which is the first Sherlock Holmes story, and something Holmes said got a chuckle out of me.

“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”

Too true!

Holmes was responding to Watson who was flabbergasted that not only did Holmes not know about the Solar System, but wished to forget this new information he had now acquired, because it was just not relevant to him or his work.

But it’s the Solar System we’re talking about here!, Watson protested.

“What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently; “you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”

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I don’t think anyone intentionally fills his head with junk or so-called ‘useless trivia’. If something sticks in your mind or strikes you as particularly interesting and you go ahead to learn more, it’s because you have a strong interest in the subject and to me that’s a good enough reason to do so.

The quote reminds me of the various subjects or skills I wanted to learn and went ahead and did them, whether on my own or in the form of courses that took up a lot of time and effort (evening classes after work, for example). Some were completed and proved to be useful, while some others did not turn out to be useful or relevant to my work or other aspects of my life. A few were abandoned because the interest fizzled out after a while. But whatever the outcome, I never regretted taking on any of them, because I enjoyed the learning process every single time.

I get Holmes’ point, though. Or Sir Doyle’s, rather. And this bit:

It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent.

is something I have probably been guilty of. While this:

Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before.

sounds scary but is probably true.

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Notes to me: To Do

  • Declutter brain-attic for a tidy and efficient workspace.
  • Expunge useless trivia like celebrity gossip, politics and other stuff you picked up in the news, current favourite TV show (Extant starring Halle Berry) and the Solar System
  • Renovate brain-attic. Include filing cabinets and open shelves so the useful info is tidily organized and easily accessible. Also a fireplace so the useless info can get sucked in and go up in smoke.
  • Don’t feel hesitant or too guilty to pick up new things that may seem useless or pointless, as long as you enjoy them. Just quickly burn after use lest something sticks. Keep brain-attic neat and tidy.