Thursday, December 31, 2009

206 - Feeling stuck

Do you ever feel like you're in a situation that you cannot get out of?

It doesn't matter whether the experience feels good or not, it doesn't matter if the people you have around you are agreeable or inharmonious company - it just hurts, and it hurts bad, to stay in the same place, within the same conditions, it just aches, and it chews at your heart slowly, and it lingers in the back of your mind for the entire time, mercilessly, like the universe is laughing at you, mocking you, teasing you, and intentionally throwing more obstacles in your way to obstruct your path in life, like God is laughing at your mistakes and your poor decisions, telling a humorous anecdote at the Table of Heaven, the story of your life right at this moment, all the Cherubim, the Seraphim, the Ophanim,  the Dominions, Strongholds, Powers, and Principalities, the Angels and the Archangels, all snickering at you, and chortling at your miserably mortal mind, throwing their fists on to La Tabella del Cielo, as they howl, Hahaha! Bad move there, Michael!, the rotten revelry that is your life, thriving on the fact that you still, to this day, are struggling like a fish brought out of water, trying to face the world with your pathetic excuse for courage.

Have you ever felt that helpless and inadequate - have you ever felt so unhappy with the cold, hard fact that you will never be able to achieve this, or that you will forever be unable to accomplish that? Have you ever felt the suffocating feeling of walls coming in on you as you try to push them apart? Have you ever felt like the last man standing, fighting against an entire army a hundred times stronger and well-equipped than you and the 5-inch-long dagger you'd much rather use to end your life with instead?

Today, I ask you the following, my readers. Have you ever in your life felt so vulnerable, so incompetent, so powerless, so feeble and forlorn, like you're up a creek without a paddle, so substandard, so sorry, so sad, so remarkably, strikingly stuck?

I hate this feeling I so depressingly describe right now, especially this depressingly so as it is New Year's Eve today. The only way I can face this is to step aside from the source of my distress, and attempt to retrieve the ratiocination that I have so dopily and dreamily displaced. Only by thinking logically, I can engage in active problem-solving - the conundrum is never a conundrum for very long once you get into the right mindset.

What do you think? How do you pull yourself out of the hardening cement? 'Cause I'd like to know.


That will be all for 2009, my fellow haters. I raise my can of Sprite to 2010 in the hopes that you will raise whatever you're having with the same sentiments, that you, like me, are hoping for good tidings in the new year, academic and professional success, heart-filled times with your closest loved ones, and another chance to live your life individually, properly and happily.

Happy New Year, folks. If you're interested, I've written about my New Year resolution here.

And now, please tell me, do you hate feeling stuck too?

Friday, December 25, 2009

205 - When other people touch your Christmas gifts without asking

First of all, Merry Christmas, my Blogger friends. It's coming to the end of the year, and it's good to know that I was actually capable of fulfilling one whole year of blogging. Even though the posts became a bit spread out over the summer, I'm grateful of it nonetheless, and I'm sure I will look back on this one day and be really proud and happy to read what I wrote and what you said in return.

I'm not sure when all of you open up your presents, but do tell. I opened mine today and was quite pleased with the results.

The amount of gifts you generally receive over Christmastime as you get older begins at a high plot on the graph, and gradually becomes a downward-sloping curve, until some time around adolescence where it basically just becomes a flat line, lingering around three to seven presents 'til the day you die. I remember when I was just eight years old, and I got around four times the number my mother received. Oh, to be a child again...

I remember one of my gifts that Christmas was a Pikachu watch, and I was so elated that I wanted to try it on immediately. For some reason the watch wouldn't switch on, so I searched in the box for the manual. And that's when my grandmother decided to snatch the manual and the watch from my hands. I got so angry at her, I nabbed it back, shouted at her for not letting me do it by myself, stomped on her foot, and ran out of the house.

I was extremely bad-tempered as a kid. Eight-year-olds - not the nicest people in the world. (I nod to my family in Gravesend.) But I guess I'll talk about eight-year-olds some other day (like when I have my own?).

It is rude and infuriating when someone takes something of yours without asking, though. Especially something like a Christmas present that's still new and being examined. With my relatives that I'm staying with here in England, everybody is fairly well-mannered, asking if that toy could be played with, or if that book could be taken to have a look at. That's the right way to do things.

At the time, I thought my grandmother was just jealous of the number of presents I got (which she probably was a little because she just got two from the whole family). But she was just trying to help, of course. But there's a way to go about things. You don't snatch people's presents away from them without asking. 

And you also don't go about stomping on grandma's feet.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

204 - Mucophagy

(From "In the scientific and medical communities, the technical name for using one's finger to extract boogers is rhinotillexis, and doing so compulsively is termed rhinotillexomania. The act of eating the resulting harvest is called mucophagy."

There was a Dr. Friedrich who professed that eating your boogers is a healthy venture. The premise behind this conclusion was the fact that boogers, chock full of germs, when consumed, would lead the body to develop more antibodies, and make it more resilient to bacterial disease, thus improving the overall immune system. This is definitely one of the most stupid, senseless, dim-witted, annoying, ridiculous, laughable and mindless things I've ever heard in my life.

If you want to prevent getting sick, you best avoid germs, by washing your hands a lot, cooking your food thoroughly, clearing the grime from under your fingernails, dispose of tissue papers properly after blowing your nose into them, and separating the cutlery you use for raw food from those for cooked food. 

Also, it's best you not ingest dried bits of mucus infested with them. I don't know. Maybe a number of your readers need me to point that out to you.

It's also quite gross for other people to witness you doing it. I don't get sickened easily by sights of unsightly things - blood and gore, hardcore violence, explicit sex, death and illness, mental dysfunction, or claimed evidence of supernatural manifestations - but for some reason, even just picturing a booger going into someone's mouth gives me a sick feeling, a slight inclination to vomit out of disgust.

Please tell me you hate it too...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

203 - Unceasing grumpiness

Hello bloggers, happy holidays to you all, whether that means you're cozied up to a significant other on the couch watching Christmas specials, or visiting relatives finally after a few long months of school, or even if that means you're working even harder at your jobs, taking advantage of the holiday spirit and the accompanying increase in expenditure. Or crime rates, if you're a cop. Or frequency of car accidents, if you're a doctor.

I, myself, am staying with my aunt and uncle and their five kids in Gravesend. The entire journey took about four hours of lugging around a 30kg suitcase, a tremendous level of perpetual anxiety, and a good many four-letter words whispered under my breath. Blame it on the bad weather, snow shrouding the train tracks, ice adding an indomitable amount of friction to the rails. Blame it on bad luck, the first train I took didn't arrive in time at the station where I was supposed to change over to my second train. And I guess we should also blame it on my bad attentive skills for getting off at the wrong station once or twice.

Ah, well. I'm here now, safe and sound. A little chafed, but still around.

I'll tell you who was chafing - this grumpy old man sitting on the train near me. He was mumbling to himself as I took my time bringing my thirty kilogram baggage on board. I'm sorry I don't go to the gym more often. 

I couldn't get a good listen to what he was saying. He was probably exclaiming his disdain for people who bring large luggage on to the train. Or teenagers who wear eyeliner (...I'm trying something...). Or maybe Asians. Maybe he's an Asian hater. Shame on him.

Then I sat down, waiting for the train to begin moving. And as you naturally do on public transportation, I looked out the window to avoid awkward gazes.

Then I heard him suddenly exclaim, "Oh, just get this train bloody train moving already, will ya?!" so everyone could hear him. That did not work because the conductor was three carriages away. I wonder if the man knew that.

Of course, it took another twelve-ish minutes for the train to start up, and for the whole time he continually murmured to himself, grumbled about the weather, kvetched about the National Rail, and bellyached about the delay.

Just as the train started moving finally, someone a couple of seats behind us had taken out their PlayStation Portable, playing Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, judging from the music and the foul-mouthed character sound effects. The volume was turned up high, but I didn't care, I don't mind rap music.

After several shakes of the head, glances up at the ceiling (God?) and a slight reddening of the face and a light quivering/vibrating (lol?), the grumpy old man turned his head around and shouted, "COULD YOU KEEP THAT BLOODY NOISE TO YOURSELF, PLEASE?"

The person with the PSP and his friends all had a chuckle, as did I to the cold scenery outside, then the guy with the PSP lowered the volume by the slightest, slightest, most minuscule degree possible that would achieve the change of being 'quieter than before'. Grumpy probably did not appreciate this move but it was very funny to me.

Grumpy kept mumbling to himself, "bloody disrespectful youth these days", "bloody delay", "bloody repetitive train information announcer", "bloody climate", "bloody many stations...", "bloody, bloody 'ell"...

And damn, I really wanted to tell him to keep the bloody noise down himself. He's freakin' annoying himself as well. Does he expect everybody in the world to keep quiet just for him? Does he expect me to give myself a fractured spine just for him? Does he expect the train service to risk busting the wheels just for him? Does he expect Mother Nature to make it snow elsewhere just for him?

It was kind of amusing, a little annoying, undoubtedly entertaining, and a tad bit sad. The guy's face was so scrunched up, the lips and cheeks that formed his frown so pronounced that it looked like he had never smiled in his life. He looked absolutely miserable, he looked like he had never laughed before, like he didn't know how to see the good side of anything. I hope I don't ever turn into someone like that. 

I probably won't, even though I could see where he was coming from, getting annoyed at just about anything and everything.

If you ask me, he should try blogging.

Monday, December 14, 2009

202 - Holding the door open

Great Britain has struck me as very, very British - it has totally lived up to the expectations of this Filipino-Chinese, Hong Konger, international student.

For example, it is true that it is habit to talk about the weather at any point of any conversation, and also, to ask each other how the other is doing thirty thousand times in a mere five days.  Tea is consumed very often, and they always make sure to wait until everybody has arrived, or has sat down, or has been served, before we begin to jab our forks into our food. All English mothers are fabulous cooks, all English fathers 'know people', and all English kids love to go out and party. Everybody loves fish and chips, sausages, potatoes, pies, pastries, roast beef, bacon, baked beans, beer, ale, and cider. Everyone knows how to make knitwear, bake cookies, garden, navigate through London via the Tube, and perform a variety of different regional English accents. English people are also very informative (and very proud to be informative) when it comes to cricket, rugby and soccer. (Not football, I write in American English.) Contrary to popular belief, though, Prince Charles, The Beatles, Gordon Brown, David Beckham, and Her Majesty, The Queen, aren't that much of a big deal in Britain - in fact, I don't think I've heard them come up in conversation once in the last three months.

One particular social rule in this country, that is lightyears beyond just 'taken for granted', is the natural obligation you have to hold the door open after you have ambled through the doorway. It is a very British thing, because throughout my time here at university, I've observed how the Italians, the Koreans and even the Caucasian Australians don't seem to possess this behavioral principle these English people have obviously spent thousands of years practicing, ever since the last Celt that entered the medieval tomb had to tactfully roll the giant circular stone back to its original position to seal the entrance.

Back in Hong Kong though, nobody expects the people of the cold-blooded public to hold the door out for others in schools, restaurants, or shopping malls. It's like only the hotels and five-star restaurants consider the hazard that is the automatically closing door. On a side note, do you think there are any insurance companies out there that sell door-slamming-into-you insurance? I think it would be a very marketable idea. I mean, with treatment for nosebleeds and stubbed toes being such cheap medical regimens to compensate, there's plenty of room to overcharge clients.

Sigh, I hate it now when people hold the door open. They are always getting in my way. Unless you're telekinetic, there is no way you can avoid obstructing the path on which I'm walking. I never hold the door open for anybody here because everyone else does it too much. Everyone slows down as they get to the door, demonstrating a continuous domino effect of stupidity from 7 in the morning until 10 at night because they're all so desperate to do a good Samaritan-deed. Oh, you held the door open for me! You're my hero! 

What about the door, huh? When does it get done a favor? Can't two sides of a door hinge be brought together anymore nowadays as they were intended to be?

I just open a door and walk through it quickly, and expect whoever's coming through behind me to think fast, walk quicker or slower, and adjust the movement of his/her arm extension. If they get slammed in the face, it's only because they have slow reactions - not my bad. *shrugs*


I also hate it when people don't say 'thank you' after you hold the door for them. And when people try to pull open a door that's meant to be pushed. If you choose to, posts #21 and #30 are there for your viewing.

Plus, follow me on Facebook and Twitter if you aren't already!

Friday, December 11, 2009

201 - Being forced to write

I watch a television series called Californication. For those of you who don't already know what it's about, the episodes revolve around the personal and professional troubles of a published author. In the show's pilot, the writer is being pressured by his agent to get his next piece of work ready for publishing soon, but the writer finds himself struggling to write a new book. So he makes an attempt. Anything he can put on a piece of paper, he writes it down. Then he throws it away because the idea sucks. He tries again, and then dumps it in the trash once more. He has no choice but to push himself, and trying to push your way through writer's block is what really grinds my gears today.

Writing, whether it be a book, an essay, a blog, a newspaper article, or even a text message, requires many different things - it starts with having an initial idea, and then having the vast pool of words from which you can select the ones that perfectly convey that thought. It needs a quick mind, prolific with ideas, to help you develop your craft, and an easily accessible, diverse group of trustworthy people you can rely on, to give you reliable feedback in case it's needed. Then, a critical eye is good to have after you've finished, to help you go through your work objectively and edit. Maybe this paragraph needs an image to go with it. Maybe I should use the rule of three. Perhaps these words should be italicized, this word should be boldfaced, and this sentence should end with a question mark to make it self-referentially humorous?

All in all, writing sure as Hell takes a lot of hard work. Especially if you want to write humorously, with distinctive flair and unique style, without making any mistakes in spelling, punctuating or grammaticizing. All of this hard work also needs time, time that could've been spent on homework, school work, office work, house work, working out, going out, catching up with an old friend, seeing a movie with the family, learning a new recipe, checking out a new restaurant, or going grocery-shopping at the supermarket. 

Writing takes a lot more than just creative power. It requires inner and superficial knowledge, some honesty, plus experience, experience from which you can draw if you are aiming to write from the heart. Writing also requires a certain level of strategy and socio-cultural awareness, to entertain, captivate and attract readers, and also to avoid angering and/or insulting them too. It requires pride and belief in what you're writing, you need to be courageous and unafraid of being openly or discreetly condemned. It's a demanding hobby/profession.

But at its roots, it is about creative power. Some people can just do it at any point of any day. Some people cannot. Most people.

I am still in school, and I am very familiar with the feeling of having to write about a certain topic before a certain date. Police officers don't know how to bulk up their reports. Businesspeople are finding themselves with blank Powerpoint presentations. Chefs can't put their finger on the perfect ingredient. Teachers regurgitate the same student evaluation thirty times. And bloggers don't know what to say.

Yet it's required of all of us to pull something out of our ass at some point. I have this to talk about now, but what am I going to do next time? Just pass on writing for a few more days?

Tell me, do you hate it too?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

200 - 2012 is the end of the world

Today is the day I publish my two-hundredth post. Congratulations to me, right? I can't even believe I continued doing this for a year, and still want to continue to do this - it makes me proud, it makes me wonder when I will stop and why, it worries me a little to know I have that much to complain about, it makes me feel hungry

Oops, typing out loud.

Ahem, 200 is a pretty special number. A cholesterol level of 200 or lower is considered to be a desirable amount to have, corresponding to a lower risk of heart disease. $200 or £200 is how much you're given when you pass "Go" in Monopoly. And the year 200 is when the Classic Period of Mayan Civilization begins.

Ah, 2012... Ever since I read an article five years ago, about Doomsday coming our way, set in stone to occur on December 21st, 2012, I knew that it was just a matter of time before all the hype about it would be generated, before the books, the documentaries, and the movie were going to be created to depict its apocalyptic effect, and before the scientists, the media, the public, the religious groups, the bloggers, the believers, the skeptics, and the government, all jumped on the bandwagon to build 2012 up and aggrandize it to something that it isn't.

I'm not going to go into the Mayan Long Calendar, or rant about how heinously flawed it is to attribute and reduce all this crap to the Mayan culture. I'm sure if you go to the library and pick up a book, or read some online journals, actually educated people will tell you how nonsensical all of this End of the World stuff is. It is true - they did predict a great end to the human race, as well as are birth of said human race, according to their specific time line. I've read about some of the theories, some of the explanations of why it's truth and why it's fiction - and whether or not I believe in the scientific word, or the words of whomever - I believe that it all doesn't matter, so long as I live today, and have plans for tomorrow, to continue living my life.

You may say that I'm conceited, perhaps a little bit too comfortable leaning back on my pillow as I sit on my bed here in my university dorm, and you may ask me, what if I'm wrong?

Truth is, I may be. The Olympics are set to happen in London in the summer of 2012. A solar eclipse is due in May and November that year. The Kyoto Protocol set up by the UN is set to expire at the end of 2012. The USA will elect a new president. It is said that Jupiter and Venus will align with the Sun and the Moon. It is said solar flares from the Sun will shift our poles and destroy the Earth. It is said a comet might hit us. It is said we might head straight into a black hole.

But I don't care. I am not going to swallow half a bottle of gin every night because there's no reason to live the next day. Nor will I live every day with no respect for my own wellbeing, or use this 2012 rubbish as an excuse to escape from my responsibilities.

And I believe it's wrong, man, how people are freaking out about it, naive, innocent people that don't know any better but to believe in these prophesies. The other day, I read something about people slitting their wrists and hanging themselves after seeing 2012, and I think that's quite messed up.

Anyway, I'm going to end there. Tell me what you think.

And here's a cool illustrated guide to how much 200 calories look like. And don't forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

199 - Sore winners

My best friend in Hong Kong was playing games with me online during the weekend, and although I hate sore losers and boastful winners, this special type of person that my best friend was pretending to be angered me the most, and made me want to blog about all three in the first place. I can only describe the kind of annoyance I'm talking about with the words, "sore winning".

My best friend will win, right, and then he'll say how he was lucky that time. And that I'll win next time. And he goes, "there, there, don't worry, man. I just got lucky. I'm going to lose next time, you'll see."

To which, my reaction is TAKE THE DAMN VICTORY AND SHUT UP ALREADY. It's so annoying by itself when you lose, and to rub salt on the wound, the opponent patronizes you, and encourages you. They're not your coach, or your personal trainer, or your best friend at that point - they are the opposition, so just act like it! 

Friday, December 4, 2009

198 - Boastful winners

Contrary to sore losers, which I blogged about a couple of days ago, on the other hand, there are also those that boast a lot about winning. They like to shove their victory in your face, whether it be a vainglorious checkmate on a chess board, a full house full of hot air in a poker game, or a highfalutin hotel bought and set in place on Boardwalk (if you're American) or Mayfair (if you're British) when you're playing Monopoly.

There is also the kind of bragging that comes with showing your support for a particular sports team. I actually personally don't mind this - although feel free to disagree. I've just been exposed to many displays of gasconade when people come into lectures, classrooms or the workplace gloating over Manchester United's defeat of Liverpool, India's triumph over Australia in cricket, and Jenson Button's domination of the Formula One World Drivers' Championship. Although I don't participate in the shouting and cheering myself, I get it - I would cheer for television shows, or books, if they ran around a pitch passing a ball to each other in front of millions of people.

But when it comes down to personal bragging rights - people tend not to have any in my eyes. To show off with or without substantiation is annoying nonetheless. Nobody cares that much if you win - a good game is a good game, and that's that. I tend to see it as an act of ego-boosting. A truly confident person doesn't need to advertise his skill. A truly impressive demonstration of achievement waits for others to do the congratulations.

Although this was true in the case of Kayne West's shout-out to Beyoncé a couple of months back, sometimes, some people, like Taylor Swift, deserve a minute of glory time. I've heard of having insecurities - but Kayne West... God knows what's wrong with him.

A pat on the back is nice, but a continual 24/7 patting of one's back is bravado that's clearly going overboard. Tell me, dear loyal readers, do you hate it too?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

197 - Sore losers

My 4-year-old cousin is a sweet boy, who brings a lot of love and laughter to our family dinners. He's learning to be conversational within the family, he's active and loves running around, and he's fairly disciplined in his general behavior and potty training, thanks to my grandmother's heavy hand.

If there's one problem that I had to point out, though, it would be the problem of him being a sore loser. He throws a tantrum, cries, kicks and screams if he believes somebody else is the winner, he cannot stand to lose. To be fair, we've taught him to think he is always a winner. I remember when the four of us cousins had a race at one point, and obviously, it was a matter of whoever was older, was whoever that ran the fastest. We like to tell my 4-year-old cousin that as long as you finish the sprint, everyone wins, we want to encourage him to think that everyone's a winner in the eyes of the family. So when it comes to him really losing at something, it upsets him immensely, because in his mind, the best policy is shared, unified victory.

But then again, he's only four years old. Who can blame him?

Who we can blame are the grown-ups, even the teens. They say it takes a real man to admit defeat, as people nowadays are so obsessed with keeping their reputation and dignity above everybody else's. I'm sure everyone out there knows of the sore losers I'm referring to - the kind that quit (not forfeit, they quit), and lose their tempers in the middle of a game because they know they're going to lose. I'm talking about the type that whine about how their tactics went wrong, or how they were tired, or weren't paying attention, the sort that complain after the game is over about how the rules were biased for those taller than him, or those with better mathematical skills than her, or how the opponent had a lot more time to spare to adjust to the controls than he/she did, how the sun was shining in their eyes, or on their side of the pitch, how it was their first time playing, how they got stuck, how they tripped, how they weren't thinking straight...

Why don't you just shut up, and move on with your life, instead of dwelling on it? What is wrong with healthy, happy competition where there are winners, and losers that just happen to be you? Jeez, no need to throw a hissy fit, just try again next time!

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

196 - One word: __________!

I never quite understood this emphatic technique, placing a single adjective after a certain place, person or thing, to stress how great a quality that place, person or something has.

"Last year's Christmas party, one word - Amazing!"
"Russell Peters, one word - Fuuuh-uuuh-neee!"
"The argument they had last night, one word - draaaamaaaa!"

How do you reduce the gravity of a given incident to a single adjective?

Have you ever heard someone say that, only to give you a different number of words instead?

"Oh, my God. That dissertation I did last night, one word - a headache!"
"There are only two things you need to pass these exams - hard work, and more hard work!"
"You know what those kindergarten kids reminded me of? One word - Lord... of... the... Flies..."

Even "awe-inspiring", and "cringe-worthy" are stretching it with the hyphen.

I also never understand how anything can be "epic", "legendary" or have "biblical" proportions. That's an insult to Odysseus, Jesus, Moses, Beowulf, the kingdom of Atlantis, and the Knights of the Round Table. I understand people are trying to be creative. I will admit it's a step up from having a "nice" day, "good" times, and "great" fun. 

But, uh, nothing in our reality is truly epic or legendary, unless you climbed Everest or can swallow your own nose or something. 

And when you begin with "One word...", you're effectively saying three words, are you not? Maybe people should disclaim it, like this:

"Three words - One word - Cringe-worthy!"

And then we can take it a step further:

"Five words - Three words - One word - Brilliant!"
"Seven words - Five words - Three words - One word - Crazy!"
"Nine words - Seven words - Five words - Three words - One word - A pain in the arse!"