Sunday, January 31, 2010

218 - Dishonesty

Advertisers, politicians, lawyers, reality show contestants, and children under the age of twelve, are all known for their tendency to skew the truth to achieve their own means. I know I'm not completely without fault as far as today's topic is concerned. There are times when I lie, and times when I say things that I don't mean. I've told many white lies, I've kept the truth from those who deserve to know it, and I've tweaked the truth to, in my opinion, make life easier for myself and others.

But hey, I assure you - I really, really assure you - I am trying my best not to, to keep dishonesty to a minimum. I don't like having things to hide. Even though it made me very uncomfortable at first, I eventually publicized my blog to all my friends and family. Although it took a while for me to adjust to the level of care required, I eventually got used to having my family as Facebook friends. With my parents, it's definitely taken years of hard work to make it an open and honest forum when I have conversations with them. I want to live a life that's open, and I'm not afraid to be myself. It just takes time for one to work it out. Change in one's situation must come from changes within.

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time. - Abraham Lincoln

But some people, they feel the need to be deceitful, to exaggerate, to tell a partial truth, or a tale sprinkled with implimenting alterations, in order to gain money, power, property, trust, praise, confidence, sympathy, or popularity. Or, in the case of compulsive liars, joy. There just is no good reason in their case - it simply makes them feel good.

A lie has speed, but truth has endurance. - Edgar J. Mohn

It's sad when people have no idea that they're lying constantly, sadder yet when they're lying to themselves, deluding themselves into believing that all's good and there's nothing wrong with them. This denial is hard to overcome, especially after years and years of devoted belief in particular maxims, or when they've been brought up by a family that doesn't face the truth along the way, all in the name of love and keeping each other happy.

You know what I mean - like the family that tells their eldest that he/she sounds great when they sing, voice similar to that of Whitney Houston, Adele or Michael Bublé - and then they go on American Idol or X Factor (take your pick of overly publicized talent show), and they end up being laughed at and ridiculed by people all over the world the next day.

So who are we kidding when we try to convince others of things that aren't true? Ask yourself, why are you trying to make it out to be something that it's not? Don't you know that the only person you're fooling is yourself?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

217 - Belittling what other people choose to learn or do because we don't understand it

I'm acquaintances with a guy who I haven't been to school with or spoken with in a while. I think the reason we drifted apart and no longer talk came down to my fondness of contemplating different subject matters in great detail, for long periods of time, while he preferred to keep conversations simple and avoid overthinking the things we talked about. He would complain to me about the work we had to do in class, and ask me why we had to read Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy or 500-page Dickens novels, and when I asked him in return why he was having such an awful time, he would tell me that it was because he hated authors who went to great lengths to describe the different sceneries, writers who kept the plot going for far too long with all the twists and turns, and who used old-fashioned and unusual vocabulary and sentence structures, and incorporated themes and symbolism that he couldn't grasp without someone else pointing them out to him.

I respected his way of thinking, I understand the appeal of it, and I wish the world was simple too. The bigger the phenomenon (e.g., love, life and the pursuit of happiness), the simpler I wish it was. But I believe from a very early stage in our lives, we are meant to learn to adapt to the complicated, mazy reality we live in. And one cannot be afraid to expose oneself to knowledge and experience, because otherwise, we will forever be naïve.

A lot of people tell me that they hate science and maths because the concepts are so abstract and dealing with numbers and equations is just too confusing. Some people tell me they don't get art, because it's hard for them to grasp on to the idea of actually reading an artist's expression and finding meaning through their painting or sculpture. One person once told me they disliked economics, because the way economies work most of the time is in a sporadic, seemingly senseless manner - prices rise, productivity falls, import spending increases, but government taxation decreases, consumer spending goes up, then prices go down when they were going up to begin with...

As for me, I find the study of politics and history very complicated. The same goes for music theory. I'm actually afraid to expose myself to theoretical music, because as a kid, I never played any musical instruments and it was just too hard when I finally tried it. Musical theorists and skilled instrument players astound me and I could never do what they do.

On the topic of music, I have another old acquaintance that once said to me he hates music, all forms of it, in all genres. He thinks it's all noise, and he thinks it's stupid that mankind have conceived of 'such aural abuse', as he called it.

It really, really gets on my nerves when people disparage what other people do and know just because it's different. It's definitely not okay to undermine what science, art, economics, politics, history or music does for society, just because it's too complicated in our point of view. Without any academic facet of the humanities, and the sciences, and the arts, our world just wouldn't function properly. Although it is alright to state your disinterest in particular subjects, calling psychology pure crap, or art pupils too stupid to do anything else, or science and maths students too geeky, or the study of philosophy too convoluted, does nothing but demonstrate a great deal of insensitivity and narrow-mindedness.

Without all the other people in the world that don't lead your life, you'd be dead. The world ain't simple, and they make sure it works for you. So, be a bit more acceptant, please.

Friday, January 29, 2010

216 - 'Half empty' means pessimism, 'half full' means optimism

I would say it's half full.

It means I'm an optimist???

Oh, yay! I feel so positive and good and happy, and that makes me want to smile and laugh and I want to draw with crayons and paint things orange and yellow, and I want to make pancakes, and serve them with ice-cream, and eat cotton candy and candy apples at the carnival, and I want to go prancing in the meadow barefoot, and pick blueberries and daffodils, and pick up ladybirds, and lie on the grass with my teddy bears and watch the clouds go by, and spot a rainbow!  And tomorrow, we can go to the beach with our shovel and pail, and build sandcastles for our rubber duckies to live in, and we can hold hands as we kick the water on the seashore, and we'll blow bubbles at each other, and tie up each other's hair, and drink pink lemonade, and exchange home-made presents when we get home!

Because after all, if I see the glass as half full, then that means I'm an optimist.


I would say it's half empty.

It means I'm a pessimist?

Oh, no. What ever am I going to do now that I'm a pessimist? I don't feel like doing anything anymore, I don't feel like getting up in the morning, I just want to bang my head on the wall, stick needles in my voodoo dolls, finish one bottle of vodka every two hours, and start a bonfire with my eucalyptus scented candles, and listen to 80's screamo and dark-cabaret, while I put my chains and crucifix around my neck, and line my eyes subtly, yet dramatically, in a color that suits my jet black hair, in preparation for dinner with my financially stable, middle-class, normal (in every conceivable way) mom and stepdad. I can't eat too much, though, because it'll mean I feel hunger, but I only feel pain, and I publish my poetry on my MySpace page to express that pain, and I take drugs to relieve that pain, and I cry myself to sleep in pain.

Because after all, if I see the glass as half empty, then that means I'm a pessimist.

Oh. And I cut myself.


Please, the oldest philosophical postulation in the book is nothing but a depthless triviality that reveals nothing about one's character, so don't you dare ask me that again trying to present to me some awareness that I didn't have before - the glass of water is there, with some water in it, and it doesn't mean anything, and it doesn't enthuse me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

215 - Getting angry

I cannot count the number of times in my life I have ever gotten angry at someone else or a particular situation. Recently, I have come to realize, though, that people get angry an awful, awful lot, too often, and it has made me reflect upon my own character, and has made me strive to be more tolerable of other people's opinions and needs. It's hard to explain why we get angry so intensely and so often, but most of the time, those who experience anger say that the rage they feel inside is aroused by "what has happened to them", something that happens immediately before the anger experience that provokes the individual to lash out. Anger serves as a means of expressing hurt feelings to the people around us, to the source of the disturbance if applicable, and often carries the subtle and underlying intention of protecting oneself from further damage, and forgoing even more of one's psychological well-being. In our society today, we are too often afraid to admit we are hurt by external (or even internal) disturbances in our lives, so we use angry gestures and behavior to tell the world that we are in emotional pain, and we deserve other people's attention.

In most cases, we stop focusing on what others have "done to us" after we begin to see how our displeased behavior is affecting other people. Anger is a release, it's a way of stating the hurt we feel inside, and it's uncomfortable to be around, it's unsettling, uncontrolled and simply relentless. However, releasing bottled up emotions can be a critical step in achieving harmony with other people and one's own conscience. Anger aids in making the hurt person more self-aware of his own needs and wants, and spurs him on to take action to fight for what he wants, rather than letting the hurtful experience continue or come back.

Getting mad over superficial, petty things, I'm sure, is something that everybody gets irritated by. It's childish, and there's no need for blowing things out of proportion. If your problems were handled more calmly and less emotionally, then maybe other people could assist you more efficiently, and life could move on a lot quicker.

But the more I think about it, the more I feel that all anger is unnecessary - whether it is socially acceptable to be angry or not - even if a country were to bomb one's own nation, even if a serial killer were to choose a member of my family as their next victim, even if someone were to walk up to me while I'm having a drink at a bar and punch me in the face.

Because anger does nobody any good. Sure, people are jerks, and life is unfair, but let's just cut the big reactions and just get to the open discussion and forgiveness already. Anger distracts you, from the multitudinous things you have to do everyday, and from the actual problem at hand. Anger causes you to be irrational and do things you don't mean to. Getting mad doesn't help anyone. There are better ways to carry yourself.

So dial down the temper and let's just learn to calm down, 'cause I'm so tired of the shouting, stomping and the slamming of doors. Take a chill pill. Make peace, not war. Just relax.

Monday, January 25, 2010

214 - Leaving a perfectly good bag next to a hot lamp

As you can see from the photograph above, the side of my schoolbag has a great, big hole in it. I had actually left it in contact with the light bulb of my bedside lamp, and after I fell asleep reading a book, the intense heat of the bulb burnt the bag right through. I woke up to the smell of burnt fabric - not cloth, though - nylon infused with plastic. And we all know what burnt plastic smells like.

There's also a problem with the heater in my room. It seems that the university wants us to feel like we're on a tropical island. I think they might be a little paranoid in thinking we're sensitive to the cold, because they've adjusted the entire building's central heating system to provide to us, via each and every heater, with too-hot-to-even-wear-a-T-shirt temperatures. That's right. I'm not wearing a shirt right now. And I'm still sweating. And this is happening in all the rooms. We didn't pay for a five-star suite, so we don't get to moderate our own room temperature. Ridiculous, isn't it?

I've accidentally left a few electrical cords lying on top of the radiator emitting the hellish heatwaves, the electrical cords I use to supply my bedside lamp, or phone charger, with electricity. The rubber coating of the cords has melted slightly and has been deformed. Another example of my carelessness before going to sleep. And I feel pretty stupid about that.

And I hate it.

Sorry, folks, for this is not being a very inspired post. I haven't slept in two days, so I'm pretty exhausted right now. But have you, or anyone else, ever been a fire hazard?


I did another guest post at Tales of the Kids, and don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Facebook if you haven't already!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

213 - Disobeying rules on a commercial aircraft

There are many rules that they instruct you to follow on a plane, such as when taking off and landing, you must bring up the tray, bring the foot rest up, ensure that your seat is back in the upright position, switch off your mobile phones and all other electronic devices, open up the airplane windows, and be seated with your seat belt on.

All of them seem pretty straight-forward to me, so why do some bozos continue resting their feet on the foot rest, or continue reading the paper, with their wrists on the tray down behind it? Is a reminder from the flight attendant really necessary? Could it not be avoided?

The people who fail to put on their seat belt when told to by the pilot through his speaker system are so irritating. Putting on your seat belt is pretty much the very first rule they give you, along with 'no smoking'. Hell, they even give these two rules their own little special place above each and every seat, just to screw it into our heads for those who have bad hearing or lack cognitive skills. Yet people still stand up like there's no flamboyant, effeminate air steward, wearing mascara, foundation and a little pink scarf, that's going to come along, and exclaim your clothes are tasteless, and then tell you that they're going to have to ask you to sit down, since the plane is landing soon.

The rule (or should I just call it an announcement from the flight attendant that interrupts the music, games and television shows on our screens) that everybody seems to ignore is the one telling us to get our headphones ready to return to the airline. It manages to go into some people's ears and out the other, and then five minutes after the flight attendant has made this little bulletin, in the middle of listening to one of their favorite concertos, or watching Ice Age 2, UH OH! It's time to give them back to the lady with the bag full of headphones!

And after the lady with the bag full of headphones walks by these passengers, I know that they're sitting there thinking to themselves, "Damn, they really should have warned us earlier. I was enjoying that song/film/episode/game..."


Sometimes, I really hate flying, but it's got nothing to do with heights or enclosed spaces...


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Monday, January 18, 2010

212 - People staring at me carrying a big suitcase

(I'm a little drunk right now, so bear with me.)

Over the course of my life, I've been traveling very, very frequently. Every country is different, every country brings its own unique personality, its own people, its own language, its own food, everything is special. However, there is one thing common to all my tourist destinations, one thing that pervades all communities, all nationalities, all people from different countries - and that common theme is the act of staring at a foreigner when they're dragging a large suitcase around town.

Yesterday, I came back to university. I had to lug around a suitcase, filled with books and clothes and other things, heavier than I was. It took me around three hours, and the whole way back, people in the train, in town, at the bus stop, and at the university, were staring at this weird Asian guy trying to push around a suitcase 6kg heavier than he is. (An incredible feat for a human being and something I'm quite proud of, I must say.)

While they were staring at me, all that was going through my mind was, "Why are all the English people staring at me?"

You know, when I have such a big suitcase with me, being Asian, being a new immigrant to this country, with nobody in Canterbury I knew from before to go through this with, there's nothing that makes me more humiliated and self-conscious then having fifty people observing every little thing I'm doing.

Anyway, before I go off on an outrageous tangent in my drunken state of torpor, I'm going to stop here and just wish you all a good time. Hahaha.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

211 - Saying I have no friends

I'm going to try really hard not to sound boastful or defensive here (because I really hate people who talk about their social life like that).

I don't know if anyone's ever accused you of being a loner or companionless before, but recently, I discovered that someone was going around, spreading the word that I was a complete recluse, alienated from all of society, with zero friends.

I kind of smirked at the screen when my friend was 'reporting' to me this latest piece of gossip.

Sometimes, people are so insecure with themselves, they feel the need to try and put down other people by saying they're unloved, emphasizing how they don't belong, laughing at them for being so eccentric, just to make themselves feel stronger and more powerful, when, in my reality, these people who lurk in the shadows of the community and don't put themselves out there are some of the most loyal, most special and mentally toughest friends a person could have.

I also don't see what anybody would possibly do with that information anyway. Who the Hell gives a damn about whether Michael has or doesn't have any friends anyway?

Is this supposed to make me lonely? Make me feel lonely?

It's funny 'cause I only met this guy recently. He has no idea where I've been or who I've met throughout my life. But I know he reads this blog.

So, I'm going to just tell you, my keen and prattling observer, that after eighteen years in the international community, amongst Hong Kong's population of 6.9mil - chances are, at least one of them is my friend.

Why are you even still talking about stuff like this? Aren't you twenty-one years old?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

210 - 'No comment' and 'I don't know what to say'

To the people that respond to uninteresting or tricky dialogue with 'no comment', let me teach you an alternative move you could make.

Now, this may come as a shock to you, so heed my warning...

When I have no comment, I do not comment.

I know it seems CRAZY, but trust me, it achieves the same effect.

In fact, sometimes, it can be even more effectual.

Again, please try to keep yourselves together when I tell you what I'm about to tell you.

But the same goes for 'I don't know what to say'.

When I don't know what to say, I do not say anything.

It's okay to keep silent. You don't have to say anything. Nobody's going to judge you. In fact, most of the time, people never expect you to say anything.

Okay, okay, I know it feels like your world has been turned upside down, but trust me, everything is going to be okay. Please stop crying hysterically. You can do this. You can keep your mouth shut. You are actually allowed to say nothing.

Okay, I'll tell you what... I'm going to leave you alone for a while, 'cause I've obviously caused you some major distress.

I'll see you later, okay?

Monday, January 11, 2010

209 - 'Pink Elephants on Parade' from Dumbo

(I did a guest post today on Marcy's blog, Tales of the Kids, if anyone wants to check that out. It's about ice cream and mothers being weird. Maybe you could relate?)


This segment of Disney's Dumbo always creeps me out. In the film, after accidentally getting drunk, Dumbo (the elephant with gigantic ears), sees pink elephants multiplying, playing their trunks like trumpets, marching, stepping on each other, growing, shrinking, talking, singing(?), morphing into snakes, camels, and different forms of transportation, changing color, figure-skating, floating on water, dancing with electricity, performing salsa, belly-dancing, and generally being weird in every possible way in the strangest sequence Disney's ever put together.

In some ways, I love the scene, sometimes I think it's plain genius. It's so fantastical and everything that is so random works together cohesively in an inexplicable fashion.

But most of the time, I find it really, really, really creepy.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

208 - Overreacting

(Follow me on Twitter and Facebook if you aren't already!)

I'm sure we all agree that our parents, our spouses, our children and our boyfriends and girlfriends are the biggest drama queens and kings in our lives. A while back, I blogged here about how my mother once found cigarettes in my desk drawer while I was out of the house. She was utterly upset by her nicotine discovery, and called me up to say that she would be taking these away from me. The fact that I had only smoked (half of) one didn't matter to her. She told me she didn't care if I went to another convenience store to purchase some. She was going to take that packet of cigarettes and that was the end of the story, according to her, as demonstrated by her hanging up the phone.

But not on my terms was that the end. I thought she had blown the whole thing in her mind way out of proportion, so I called her back to try to explain to her that I had only tried one cigarette and I didn't even like it. The dial tone rang and it rang and I tried again and again, each time I dialed, it was picked up by her voicemail service.

On the sixth or seventh time, there was no ringing sound - instead, it went straight to voicemail - and upon realizing that my mother had turned her phone off altogether to avoid more argument with me, in a compulsive fury, I raised my own mobile phone up high above my head, and smashed it on to the ground. Before I could even fathom what had just happened, battery, buttons, and bits of screen were scattered all over the ground in front of me.

Talk about overreacting.

People freak out about a great number of things, like lip piercings, and grades of B- or lower, and little boys who may or may not have drifted away in helium balloons.

Does this mean my daughter's having sex with her new boyfriend?
Does this mean we're all going to die in 2012?
The guy over there is sneezing and sniffing a lot, could he have swine flu?

Take the following story as a prime example of what I mean.

On December 19th, thanks to such social networking sites as Facebook and Twitter, over 200 people were able to gather beside a street in downtown Washington D.C. to have a friendly neighborhood snowball fight. As the snowball fight was well underway, a large maroon Hummer drove by the neighborhood, and members of the public decided to launch snowballs towards the vehicle.

It turned out that the driver of the car was a detective who, I guess, just wasn't liking the snow that day. He got out of his car holding a walkie-talkie in one hand, and waving a gun in the other.

Why on Earth would he take out his gun?

Apparently, it was because of the simple reality that he had been hit with snowballs.

I wonder if at any point he had considered throwing snowballs back at them instead of pointing a gun. Or considered throwing his phone at them. I also wonder what his mother was thinking when she heard about that.

Monday, January 4, 2010

207 - When people make the world revolve around me

My closest friends will tell you that I hate it when people always ask me how I am and what's up with me. They will tell you that I reckon my mother and my father and the rest of my family do it too often. My friends will tell you that my acquaintances don't know that it annoys me. They will tell you that sometimes even they, themselves, forget that I don't like revealing that much about myself when we're having a conversation. I just find it annoying when people ask me about me too much. If I wanted to talk to them about something, I would talk to them about it, right?

But I really don't blame them for asking about me. They're just expressing their care for me and want updates on my life. I blame myself mostly for this annoyance. I blame me for putting myself into situations that warrant people's attentions - it is a constant struggle to balance: doing what I want in front of others, while also conveying that I would like my own secrets, private life and alone time. My mother knows that struggle all too well with me, my father would drink to that privacy, and my friends would tell you that achieving that balance with me is one of the keys to being my friend. I prefer solving problems myself - unless I can't really help it. That includes sorting out my own time, money, relationships with people, and my own emotions.

So, please, my readers, I must make something very clear. I do not request advisement of any kind on this blog. I am no longer the bad-tempered kid I was a year ago that needs counsel. I don't need advice on how to tackle this problem or that, how to survive the meaningless chat when running into acquaintances or how to keep my chin up when someone ruins my day. Your encouragement is not needed here. Your questions of concern, I will not answer. All the personal stuff is what my other blog is for - in that blog, is where I have my space to be egotistical, and where I would appreciate kind words.

This is for you. To make you laugh, to make you empathize, to make you hit the surface of your desk in agreement and go, "Man, that irritates me, as well!"

I'm asking you, do you hate it too? Don't you hate it too when people make the world revolve around you?

I find it a little bit funny that by asking you that question, it then kind of makes the world revolve around you... and so if you do concur and do hate it too, then I would effectively be doing the very same thing we both hate, in the very same post. Hmm...