Kamis, 31 Desember 2009

0 6 Ways to Start the New Year Doing Instead of Dreaming

It is the time of year where many people will attempt to develop their New Year’s resolutions. Whether you have one resolution or a thousand, wouldn’t it be a fabulous accomplishment to be able to say to yourself that 2010 was the year you stopped dreaming about accomplishing your resolutions and started to do them?

Dreaming about what you want to get done is not a bad thing, but many of us seem stuck in the days after January 1st thinking about losing weight, starting a business, or saving more of our income instead of making it happen.

To help you start the New Year right, here are 6 ways I have thought of that you make 2010 a year of doing instead of a year of dreaming:

Change Your Mental Map

In the article, “Leading Again for the First Time,” Dr. Chip Souba makes the assertion that “Sustainable success begins with transforming people first by changing their mental maps and thought patterns.” In my studies of success, the people that are most successful are the ones that change their perceptions of what they can do and as Dr. Souba said, change their mental map.

When you change your mental map, you are not changing what you believe to be true or false, right or wrong, but you are changing how you perceive success in accomplishing your goals. Many of us fall into the trap of thinking that our past failures signify future failures. That is a mental map we have created that has now defined our future. When we change our mental map, we realize that our past failures do not define our future and that we can accomplish the goals we set this New Year.

Increase Your Learning on the Subject
For many of us, the New Year gives us a few days of rest before we have to go back to work. This is a good time to sneak into the library and research your resolutions. I personally like to do my research in the libraries of a large public university. There I have access to search tools and databases that allow me to find peer reviewed articles and data on the topics I am researching. For non-research types like me, our local public library can give us access to:
  1. The forms needed to start a business.
  2. Books on how to get our finances in order.
  3. Exercise and diet DVDs, books, and magazines
  4. Online programs to learn a new language, learn about traveling to other countries, develop a resume, and a variety of other self-help topics.
  5. A staff of people that are paid to help you find information.
If you want to kick your New Year off right, then consider heading to the library to get as much information on the topic as you can so you have the information you need to get a fast start.

Eliminate Wasteful Activities

The primary complaints that I hear from people about why they fail to accomplish their goals is that they do not have enough time. This is coming from the people that hit the snooze button 9 times before getting out of bed, watch two hours of TV a night, and spend every 20 minutes checking their e-mail and Facebook status updates.

Spending some time doing a relaxing activity is not a bad thing, but when you are spending over two hours a day playing Farmville, you have some free time to get more done in your life. I recommend that you spend the next few days trying to cut your TV and Internet time in half and spend that time working on accomplishing your resolutions.

Set Realistic Time Horizons
You didn’t put that 20 pounds on in a week, so don’t expect it to come off the day you start your diet.

We live in a world of instant gratification. Due to the pace of our lives, it has become difficult to accept that being successful in accomplishing your goals takes time. If you are looking to lose weight, then give yourself the room to make mistakes over the coming week. Just because you ate a pint of Ben and Jerry’s doesn’t mean all is lost. It just means you need to be realistic about your goal and strive to a long term goal of feeling better and weighing less.

Whether it is a savings goal, business, or personal, we all try to believe that things can change overnight. They can’t, so we need to make sure that we create time horizons for our goals that push us to accomplish them but don’t set us up for failure.

Recruit Others to Your Cause
If you need help losing weight, then join a support group. Trying to save money? Join a savings club. Want to start a business? Then join a local chamber of commerce. For many of your goals, there are free or low cost groups that you can join that create a support network that will help you stick with your goals.

If there isn’t a group available, then try to find an accountability buddy that will push you to stay in line with your goals. This should be someone that you can speak with in confidence that will tell you when you are keeping to your goals or need to get back in line.

Take Action Now

Don’t wait until January 1st to start your resolution. If you want to lose weight, then get your workout clothes on and take a walk. When you return from your walk, throw away all of the junk food in your house, make a menu for the next month, then create a healthy shopping list for the next two weeks.

If you want to save money in the new year, then why don’t you pull out the credit card and bank statements, figure out what monthly expenses can be eliminated, and make the calls to cancel subscriptions, reduce your cell phone bill, and other subscriptions you are no longer using.

Don’t wait for something to happen, the clock to strike midnight, or a mystic vision to reveal what you are supposed to accomplish in the New Year. IF you want to be successful then pick up the phone, get out and start moving, or pick up the pen in write. Whatever you want to do, get out there and do it right now! It is the best way to get you started in accomplishing your goals.

Written on 12/31/2009 by Chris Elliott. Chris helps small businesses figure out what their big idea is, how to get it to market, and how to get people to notice their wonderfulness. He is also a dynamic speaker and trainer in personal growth and public speaking. You can catch him blogging at As A Dude Thinketh.Photo Credit: kkalyan

Rabu, 30 Desember 2009

0 How to Master the “Art of Apathy”

When we hear the word "apathy", we may also hear the words "uncaring", "soulless", or "lazy". You may think that an apathetic person doesn't like to be bothered with the burdens of the world or even in his immediate community. You may picture him having a slothful attitude. Maybe he doesn't care too much for his appearance, doesn't watch the news, or probably would seemingly "accept" another's argument simply because he can't be bothered to argue over something that, in the grand scheme of things, won't change my mind or the other person's mind.

This is me (most of the time).

I get pissed at something - maybe I'll let my feelings shine anywhere from a few hours to a few minutes - and next thing you know, I've shifted off into another topic. It's not that I have a low attention span or don't care about things, it's just that, for the most part, things that seem big to other people, usually aren't that big to me.

Why it's good to be apathetic

I believe that it's good to be apathetic (sometimes). And while it may not be a character trait preferred over bravery or valor, it does have it's advantages. Just to name a few:
  • Helps you deal with rejection
  • You begin to think more about how you affect the world, instead of how it affects you
  • You're just calmer in general
When to be apathetic
Unless you want to be boring (like me) you don't want to be apathetic all the time. You'll want to use it only to get the results mentioned above. You don't want be indifferent towards a close friend's birthday - unless he deserves it - or towards your boss - unless you're seeking to get fired.

Use apathy in situations that wouldn't negatively affect your day if you never heard it in the first place. Let's say you spill milk all over the counter. Relax, it's no biggie. Just clean it up. Think to yourself, "Well, no use crying over spilled milk." In another example, let's say that you get stood up (either by a potential client or a date). I could easily tell you "not to care", but what if this date or this client is particularly high-value? How would you "not care" then?

At long last, how to be apathetic

To be apathetic, you're going to have to work at it. Apathy is hard to fake. You can't just say "Oh, I don't care," and then be lying defeated on the inside. It's going to take a conscious and repeated effort in order to master the "art of apathy".
  • Step 1 - Recall and record situations that usually tick you off
    Which situations are causing your anger? I can list at least a page, if not more. Stick to simplicity and list 5 things that really burn your beans. A few examples include: stubbing your toe, someone cutting you off on the highway, or forgetting your laundry.

  • Step 2 - Go for the source. Why does it tick you off?
    What about those situations causes you your stress? Pick 1-3 things for each listed situation. Continuing off of the examples above:
    • Stubbing my toe really hurts.
    • When that guy cut in front of me, he almost hit my car and/or obstructed my continuous motion.
    • When I forget my laundry for the third time, my clothes get wrinkled and/or shrink.

  • Step 3 - Substitute
    More likely than eliminate what's causing you stress, you'll want to substitute your anger with a calm solution. That way, you're logical brain will take over your emotional brain. The stress is gone, and at no cost to your day.
    • I guess I should wear shoes/socks more often. I should watch where I'm going.
    • I should switch lanes and/or just wait patiently. I believe in karma.
    • I should set a timer next to me in order to get my laundry on time.
Without apathy, I don't know where I'd be (probably stewing in a corner somewhere). This shows that being apathetic doesn't mean you're "cold" or "lazy". You're just indifferent to things that seem like a big deal, but are just trivial.

You've got more important things to think about. Everyone does.

Written on 12/30/2009 by John Anyasor. John is the creator of HiLife2B. His blog is centered on personal development, life tips, and general motivation. Follow him on Twitter or join his Facebook group.Photo Credit: Little Li

0 Art Trap

[Image: From Art Trap by Minsuk Cho].

In an amazing response to the Guggenheim Museum's Contemplating the Void call-for-ideas (mentioned in the previous post), architect Minsuk Cho has proposed Art Trap.

Explaining their approach, the architects write that "the Guggenheim has become, in a sense, a victim of its own success due to an over-saturation of human movement in a singular space. Our proposal aims to accomplish the seemingly incompatible: to restore a museum environment conducive to experiencing art and to maximize and heighten other experiences brought about by the iconic status of the museum itself."

The specific strategy here is "to trap, i.e., to force a pause. This programmatic component was not considered by Wright, who envisioned a space defined by tireless motion."

[Images: From Art Trap by Minsuk Cho].

The resulting project is a gigantic membrane stretched throughout the interior, supplying "180 saddle-like seats along the entire ramp for pausing and viewing the rotunda."
    These seats protrude into the void with access ladders arranged in between the floor and the ceiling over the guardrails. Each of the 90 access ladders holds two cantilevering seats, which are angled gradually as they ascend to allow a view of the central area at ground level that functions almost like a stage—as though the rotunda were a new hybrid of opera house and arena. The 180 protrusions over the void are draped with a single, soft and translucent membrane that functions as a safety net.
There is no mention of a user weight-limit.

[Image: From Art Trap by Minsuk Cho].

The architects continue, writing that "the pop-out pods, each approximately 60 cm deep, contain seats," and "each pod has five openings for the head and limbs, which make the membrane"—and I love this metaphor—"much like a garment that can be worn collectively by 180 people."

Imagining a piece of clothing so huge you mistake for a building is an awesome change in both scale and context; you would go inside by putting the building on, slipping in one arm at a time.

Of course, this also raises the possibility of tailoring clothing specifically to function only within certain very specific architectural structures: nylon tights that only make sense to wear when seated in one of Cho's "pop-out pods," or sweaters that allow you to experience the spatial extravagance of luxury elevators at a new W Hotel in London. You and some friends zip yourselves up into the wall, forming a new private room that would otherwise not be there.

[Images: From Art Trap by Minsuk Cho].

But Cho saves the best analogy for last: once the overflowing crowds of art-drunk tourists come to fill the "pop-out pods," it "as if they were performing as a part of a living Baroque ceiling sculpture."

[Image: From Art Trap by Minsuk Cho].

I had the pleasure of seeing Cho present this project in person at a lecture he gave back in October at Columbia University; this was the project with which he kicked-off the evening, and it set a fantastically giddy tone for the rest of Mass Studies' work.

You can see this and other projects at the forthcoming Contemplating the Void exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum, opening February 12, 2010.

0 Spiral Icon

[Image: Flow Show by WORKac (2009)].

For a forthcoming exhibition called Contemplating the Void, New York's Guggenheim Museum "invited more than two hundred artists, architects, and designers to imagine their dream interventions in the space."
    In this exhibition of ideal projects, certain themes emerge, including the return to nature in its primordial state, the desire to climb the building, the interplay of light and space, the interest in diaphanous effects as a counterpoint to the concrete structure, and the impact of sound on the environment.
Many of the images provide great eye-candy, as you'll see, and I've included the best of those here (with my personal favorite coming up in the next post).

[Image: Untitled by N55 (2009)].

The interior is taken over by coastal rain forests; there are mystical arabesques of colored music wrapping upward in spatially impossible curls through the museum's disappeared roof; there are trampolines and climbing nets strung from wall to wall above the lobby.

The Museum of Simulated Suicides, you could call it, where go to experience what it might be like to throw themselves into the void. You get a certificate of survival at the end.

[Images: (top) Let's Jump! by MVRDV (2009) and (bottom) Experiencing the Void by Julien De Smedt Architects (2009), the latter project also depicted in Agenda, pubished earlier this month].

There are photo-collages and sectional diagrams of internally returning ecosystems.

[Images: (top) Morris in Guggenheim by M/M (2009), (center) Perfection_Perversion by West 8 (2009), and (bottom) The House of GI–A Proposal by Matthew Ritchie (2009)].

There are vast white balloons with visible structures trapped inside them rising out into New York's winter skies—

[Image: State Fair Guggenheim by MAD Architects (2009)].

—as well as storms of red dust falling downward in a kind of gravitational pollution of the lobby.

[Image: Untitled by Anish Kapoor (2009)].

Perhaps predictably, though, I might say an even better intervention into the Guggenheim's space is not a series of objects or architectural alterations at all, but an event—by which I'm specifically referring to one of 2009's most talked-about spatial moments, at least in architectural circles, when we see that very same museum annihilated in a hail of bullets in the film The International.

[Image: A poster for The International featuring the Guggenheim Museum (2009)].

For all these calls for ideas and architectural design competitions, what if Hollywood set designers and location scouts are doing a more provocative job in non-preciously reimagining the inherited icons of the global built environment than 21st century architects?

These and many other images will be on display when the exhibition, Contemplating the Void, opens February 12, 2010.

0 How to Bring More Joy Into Your Daily Life

It would be hard to imagine two more contrasting worlds. Above me, stretching up into the heavy rain clouds, the opulence of the Trump Tower, sleek and black. Behind me, on a busy Fifth Avenue sidewalk, a charity worker soliciting for cash donations from the passing throng.

Lucky enough to have been able to organize a Saturday in Manhattan, following a week’s business trip to Connecticut from the UK, I was intent on soaking up the sights and sounds of one of the world’s great cities, New York.

I walked away from the charity worker, initially mistaking him for a salesman of some kind (there are plenty of people trying to sell to you in New York City!). Then his words began to penetrate my consciousness, and I realized that he was collecting to provide meals for the homeless. This being one of the charitable causes that I tend to support, I turned back and grabbed a small handful of change from my pocket (probably a couple of dollars) and poured it into his collecting jar. We exchanged pleasantries and he told me that there are fifty thousand homeless people in the city and that the cash will help to feed them. Then I was on my way again. I stopped once more, reflected, and went back with another five dollars for him. I was doing quick values calculations, of how badly I needed the money, compared with someone who lives on the street, what I would use the five dollars for, compared with the street person, and so on.

It struck me that fifty thousand was a big number of people to be on the streets. I wondered momentarily how many people were giving donations on the street today and how many donations it would take to feed all fifty thousand. I watched, for one minute, and counted around one hundred people passing the charity worker on the sidewalk. And the vast majority made no donation at all. I made a quick calculation that if each and every person passing gave two dollars to this one charity worker, we’d probably collect enough in a day to feed the lot. By the way, it’s hard to know how many of those passing were Americans; a large proportion of that crowd, on a Saturday, I would guess would be tourists.

Now, all this talk of fancy business trips, New York City, and giving away hard earned cash might give the false impression that I am one of those lucky ones with plenty of cash in the bank and can well afford to spread a little around. So, in case you think this story is only for the well-heeled, I have to confess that my financial liquidity right now is less than great. I earn a decent salary, but like many, have maintenance (alimony) payments, mortgage payments, household bills, and (frankly) I’m not the world’s best at managing money. So I have a hefty overdraft, loan interest payments, you get the picture. I did stop and think before donating, asking myself whether I could afford it.

What I want to share with you is that the amount of joy I feel in my life has increased hugely since I changed the way I think about other people over the last few years. And here’s the mindset change; we human beings are all one big family on this little blue planet.

Stephen Covey (‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’) talks about an abundance mentality, versus a scarcity mentality. In a scarcity mentality, we believe that there is not enough to go around. Resources are limited, we live in a competitive world, anything you get represents a little bit less available for me, a zero-sum game (all your gains are to my detriment). (By the way, for a hilarious exposition on this attitude, get yourself a copy on DVD of the original 1960 movie ‘School for Scoundrels’, in which the brilliant Alastair Sim, playing Dr. Stephen Potter, teaches ‘one-upmanship’ to the hapless Henry Palfrey, in his bid to win the girl from my all time favorite movie cad, Terry-Thomas... “The world was divided into winners and losers... in a word, the ‘one-up’ and the ‘one-down’. “

An abundance mentality takes the view that there is enough for everyone. We can find a way to share the cake so that we all get a slice. If we work together, maybe we can even discover ways to create a bigger cake, so that we all get to have a little more.

Now, just think for a moment, which of these worldviews leads to advancement of the human race? Which approach would more likely succeed in getting a crew of astronauts to the moon and back, safely (remember the movie of ‘Apollo 13’?). Which approach most contributed to New York being the fabulous city it is today, with its vastly improved crime statistics and lively, diverse population? In a scarcity mentality, would immigrants be allowed to enter that great port at all, for fear of draining the resources and wealth of the city’s citizens? Well, you know, that’s how the city was built and thrived, fueled by the queues of wide-eyed hopefuls landing at Ellis Island, with hearts full of possibility.

And isn’t that really what the American dream is all about; the art of the possible, the hope of a new and better beginning? Scarcity thinking, or abundance thinking?

Now, when it comes to doing the right thing, generally in life I have learned (by my 48th year) to listen to my inner guidance system. This system is a combination of intuition, listening to your heart, gut feeling. I think it’s no coincidence that these phrases relate to the visceral, they are about what our body is telling us, rather than our intellect and our logic.

And, simply, it works like this; go with whatever puts a feeling of joy into your heart, and a spring into your step. This is almost certainly an indication that you have made a good choice and are doing the best thing for all concerned, including yourself!

You do, however, need to distinguish between joy and pleasure. Joy is a natural high without the chemicals a feeling you get when your spirit soars, the world becomes an open and friendly place and the feeling is a lasting, growing experience. Pleasure, on the other hand, can be artificially induced using chemicals, by spending money (‘retail therapy’) or by scoring a victory over others (e.g. by jumping a queue or getting away without paying for something). You momentarily feel ahead of the game, up on the deal, a winner! (Dr Stephen Potter smiles down!). This momentary pleasurable effect may last anywhere between ninety seconds to an hour. And then it’s gone. Not only that, you didn’t contribute to the net joy in the world!

Here are a few tips for how to feel more joyful, for I believe that is one of the prime reasons we are here. Come on now, let’s get creative, and add to the human joy pool!

  1. Donate something to a charity, one that you empathize with.
    There are thousands to choose from, get excited about being one of the people who made a difference, however modest.

  2. Give some of your time to doing something worthwhile
    Do something simply for the benefit of your fellow humans, for no other reason than contributing service makes you feel more joyful! My favorites are Samaritans (telephone support to the emotionally distressed) and Crisis (volunteer services for the homeless). Doing something for kids and neighborhoods is always worthwhile.

  3. Smile at somebody and exchange friendly greetings when they serve you.
    Think of the guy that takes your railway ticket or drives your taxi, especially when they got out of the wrong side of the bed and are grumpy.

  4. Appreciate, and show more gratitude in your life.
    Look around you; this is a stunningly beautiful planet, if you have the eyes to see it. Be thankful for the senses you have been endowed with, that allow you to experience it.

  5. Be wildly curious.
    Find out why things are the way they are, and what you can learn from that. Adopt the attitude of a lifelong learner.

  6. Be creative.
    We are here to create ourselves, in every moment, in every decision we make, in all our choices, in how we act, communicate, show up in the world. Come out of your shell and show the world what you are truly capable of!
I’d love to hear suggestions from you on what it is that makes you feel more joyful and how we can spread more joy around. Please don’t wait for everyone else to do it first. As Gandhi said: ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’

Written on 12/30/2009 by Paul Mallory. Paul is a volunteer for the Quality of Life Project. The website shares best practices on getting the most out of life from well know types like Richard Branson and Tom Skerritt to lesser known but equally interesting individuals. The mission of the organisation is to help people live more enjoyable, purposeful and contented lives. Paul also writes at soulworkblog.blogspot.com.Photo Credit: alicepopkorn

0 Camwhoring

Decided to put on some blusher, lipstick, and dot some fake freckles on to camwhore with the new camera!!

Three pictures only lah... I think not bad though! I like my L10 more now! Please stop saying shit about it!

With flash

With flash

No flash

Think the fake freckles a bit fail but still, must try new things!!!

Lower lashes are drawn on (except in last picture, forgot to put), top lashes are extensions. Not wearing contacts. Photoshopped brown. And yes I know the left eye's lashes are drooping. I need to get them fixed!

Off to play mahjong! :D

Selasa, 29 Desember 2009

0 Single Lens Reflex

Just bought a new DSLR yesterday at $1,200!!!

(From this point on I shall refer to my DSLR as SLR coz I can't be bothered with the D and nobody really buys SLRs anyway don't be nitpicky and stupid)

Welcoming the Lumix L10 to the family! Which includes just another Lumix, the awesome LX3. Oh and my lousy blackberry camera. LOL

Ok here's why I bought it.

I've been wanting to get a good camera for a long time now, especially coz whenever I do advertorials that require camwhoring, I realised that it's super duper hard when I am alone at 3am at night shooting myself!!!

The pictures I post are of course the best of the lot so you don't realise how utterly horrific the others are.

Here's the embarrassing way I do it:

I put the LX3 on a tiny $3.90 (from mustafa) tripod, and precariously balance that tripod on my swivel chair.

Then I sit on the floor in front of my cupboards (to make a nicer background), and I turn on the self-timer. Then I smile like an idiot for 10 seconds.

It is extra loserish coz i'm like trying to act sultry/chic/funny whatever at 3am while alone in my room with some products.

The first few photos will have me half out of frame, or funny objects in the background, or the product out of the frame.

It's really incredibly frustrating and a totally waste of time.

I know these problems still have nothing to do with an SLR, but I'm getting there.

So one day, I saw that Lumix has an SLR...

DIGRESSING!! That Lumix I was talking about is an SLR only loosely speaking. It's a micro four thirds.

Confusing right? BLOODY PHOTOGRAPHY JARGON. Wait, I'll explain in simple terms.

I asked this simple question that day on twitter and all I got were photography jargon. WHAT IS AN SLR???

Or rather, what makes an SLR QUALIFY to be an SLR?

Is it weight? Coz they sure are all heavy. Is it ugliness of the camera? Coz most of them are really hideous too.

But no.

It's 2 things:

1) SLR = Single Lens Reflex. I'm gonna be corrected by photography know-it-alls, but basically this refers to a mirror inside the camera which reflects what your lens is capturing into the viewfinder (thing people put their eye at in the past. Remember film cameras??)

2) SLRs have removeable lens. You can buy new lens and fix them on the, erm, camera. Is it still a camera if it doesn't have lens? Don't ask me.

End of digression!!

So basically that day I saw a Lumix, and it's only loosely called an SLR coz they removed the mirror thingy to make the camera smaller. But same functionality lah.

This Lumix is RED!! A nasty, brownish red. But red nonetheless among black cameras!!

For those shutterbugs who do know, this camera is the Lumix G1.

So I asked the salesperson to let me take a look. He seems to be pretty friendly so I thought I'd give it a try and CAMWHORE!!!

Took the camera up, was ready to snap when the salesman said, "Hold on, see, you can do this, much easier!"


IT CAN SWIVEL!!!!!!!!!!

It took about 5 secs for me to realise how much easier this will make my life and I erupted into tears of joy!!

So, at that point, I decided one of the criteria for my SLR will be to have a swivel screen!

One of the best inventions EVER or what?


After a lot of research, came to the conclusion that the only newer SLRs with swivel screens were Panasonic G1, Gh1 and Nikon D5000.

And out of these, the GH1 is the chioest. Comes in GOLD:

Still ugly coz the sides of the lens are still black but a vast improvement nonetheless.

Combined with the fact that I LOVE the soft skin mode function on my LX3 (checked and it's available on the GH1), I decided on the GH1.


Couldn't sleep. Dreamt all night of the GH1. Reached Sim Lim in uber excitement. Found a shop that sells it.


BUT IT WAS $2,230.

Good god.

I almost fainted. (And just for comparison other SLRs are as cheap as $699)

The only reason why it's so expensive is that it's "HD" lens and it can take HD video, which I honestly cannot give two hoots about. So high quality for what I'm also not shooting MTV! That and that it can zoom pretty far, which I also don't care about! I wanna use it to camwhore!

I just couldn't bring myself to pay so much extra for something I didn't need. It's $1,000 more than other equally-good-for-photography SLRs!

So. Very disappointed and confused.

Shopkeeper introduced me to the L10, which is about 1 year old and one of the last Lumix SLRs to use Leica lens!

(Leica lens are famous for being mad awesome)

The newer Lumix SLRs stopped using Leica lens... I presume coz it's too expensive? GH1 doesn't use Leica lens.

The L10 is a lot bigger, and black, and sadly enough no soft skin mode coz it's not invented yet, but selling for $1,200.

The cheapest standalone Leica lens in the shop were selling for $1,300, so I thought it's a pretty good deal!

He also assured me Leica lens take better photos (this part wins the Nikon D5000), so I was already half convinced.

On top of that he took a photo for me OF me in the shop and it's MAD chio!! SO I BOUGHT IT!!!

Too bad that picture is in the shop's SD card.

But soo far... Not too impressed with it. The flash, hoisted on top of the camera, casts a shadow on the bottom frame of photos coz it's blocked by the lens, which are too long!

And lao niang's surely not gonna change lenses coz my lens is a good one!! I guess I'd have to buy one of those external flashes but I don't want it too bright either! Grrrr why like this?

I have not camwhored with it yet so I dunno lah... Maybe it would take awesome photos of me, which is the MOST important. LOL. I'm lazy to put make up to take pics lah!

Here are some sample shoots I randomly took of things in the house:

Room + daybed

A pic of unwilling Mike... See the shadow cast by the flash? Tragic.

Mike disbelieving my "flash casting a shadow" theory, somehow testing it out with his leg. LOL... Sexy!

That's it! Think I'd snap more tomorrow.

Learnt a nifty little photoshop trick from Priscilla (I can never spell this name) that's why the colours are so mad chio!!! The original photos don't look like that but I hate posting ugly pics so there.

How do you think the photos compare to the LX3's?

Senin, 28 Desember 2009

0 Manhattan Paleolimnology

Temporary lakes have sprung up all over Manhattan again this week, sometimes more than twenty feet wide and a foot deep, spanning curbs and pooling in gutters, the aquatic remains of last week's rain and snowmelt.

[Image: Photo by Flickr-user ShellyS].

This surprise limnology—often demanding new, indirect lines of approach from one side of the street to the next—reminded me of David Gissen's recent, recommended book Subnature, which includes an entire chapter on urban puddles.

"Although we often think of puddles as inconsequential," Gissen writes, "they appear in architectural history in prominent ways—in drawings of ruins, photographs of decaying buildings, and experimental designs that attempt to use water in provocative ways." Now, however, "these stagnant pools of water, once signifying society's vulnerabilities, appear to have disappeared in much contemporary work"; indeed, he adds, contemporary architects have seemingly always "viewed stagnant water with suspicion." There is good medical reason for this suspicion, of course; indeed, the Centers for Disease Control advised last year that "neglected swimming pools"—i.e. stagnant bodies of water—are fast becoming vectors for mosquito-borne disease.

The CDC specifically cites "the adjustable rate mortgage and associated housing crises" as unexpected disease incubators: "Associated with home abandonment was the expanding number of neglected swimming pools, jacuzzis (hot tubs), and ornamental ponds. As chemicals deteriorated, invasive algal blooms created green swimming pools that were exploited rapidly by urban mosquitoes, thereby establishing a myriad of larval habitats within suburban neighborhoods," they wrote.

In any case, Gissen describes "visions of the undrainable city" as a kind of sickly counterpart to the modern, infrastructurally managed, rational metropolis, pointing out that "the waters inundating the modern city rained from above and surged from below." These overload our modern streets and sewers, bringing even 21st-century cities closer to the flooded Roman basements of Piranesi than to the hygienic visions of Le Corbusier, Gissen suggests. I'm reminded here of a disconcerting remark made by Alan Weisman in The World Without Us that the subways of New York City would be irreparably flooded within only 36 hours if the city's underground pumps ceased to function.

While reading Gissen's chapter on puddles, however, one of the first things that came to mind is that someone should produce a puddle map of New York—an urban atlas of temporary flooding. Set your parameters—puddles one foot deep by thirty-feet wide, say, or, more accurately, a volumetric guideline (at least one hundred square-feet of water or no less than 120 gallons)—and bring these fleeting aqueous forms into the geographic consciousness of the city.

[Image: A map of glacial Lake Agassiz].

From one rainy season to the next, an accelerated paleolimnology of New York thus comes into being; the Lake Lahontans and Lake Agassizs of the five boroughs are given their cartographic due. Here a tiny lake once stood, historical plaques could read, bringing to mind a liquid version of Taylor Square, the famed "smallest park" in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

What monstrous puddles have existed in your neighborhood, and how have the urban circumstances of their existence changed over time? Did curb-cuts or new drains eliminate these hydro-geographies—or even make them worse? And whose lives have been affected by these unmapped bodies of water, whether through hydroplaning, sidewalk splashes, or even an expensive pair of ruined shoes?

Whole personal histories of human contact with puddles, and the effects such exposure might have, could be produced or recorded. This is extraordinary: we live beside temporary lakes and inland seas in cities all over the planet, yet these landmarks never make it onto our maps.

Minggu, 27 Desember 2009

0 Ten Essential Time Management Tips

Over the past six years, I’ve picked up a lot of time management tips. Some of them have been helpful and, frankly, some have been useless. Here, I’ve compiled the ten that have served me best. And yes, I’m sure you’ll have heard some of them before ... but are you actually doing them?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re self-employed, employed or a student: over the past six years, I’ve been an undergraduate student, a full-time employee, a part-time postgraduate student, and a freelancer – and these tips work for all those situations!
  1. Three Important Things
    This is the “big rocks first” technique of scheduling your three most important tasks into your day and letting everything else flow around them.

    In case you’ve not come across the “rocks” analogy before, it goes like this:

    You’re given a jar, three large rocks, a handful of pebbles and some sand. If you pour the sand and pebbles into the jar first, there won’t be room to force the rocks into it – but if you put the rocks in first, the pebbles can flow around the rocks, then the sand can be poured in to fill the gaps.

  2. Always Carry a Notepad
    How often have you been stuck waiting for a train or standing in line at the bank with absolutely nothing to do? Keep a notepad in your pocket or purse and you’ll always be able to do some productive work: whether it’s an outline for your next project, a list of ideas for new products, or a few notes for an article or short story.

    If you have a PDA or phone that you can type on, try using that instead of a notepad – you can transfer your notes to your computer.

  3. Make Checklists
    Do you ever find yourself procrastinating on big projects – or spinning your wheels without much idea of what needs to be done next? For almost any project, a checklist is a good way to keep on track. You might keep checklists like:
    • Books and articles to read for your next essay
    • Steps to take whenever you take on a new client
    • Office procedures, such as closing up at night
    Checklists are particularly important for tasks which you do on a regular basis: they’ll save you the time of trying to figure out exactly what it is you need to in order to set up a new website or launch a new product. Breaking down a big project into individual tasks is also a great way to avoid procrastination.

  4. Work in Short Bursts
    Many people make the mistake of trying to work for long hours at a stretch. Inevitably, they run out of energy quickly – or end up working inefficiently. It’s much easier to concentrate when you’re working for a short time period, which is why students are normally advised to study for 20-45 minute bursts, taking frequent breaks.

    If you’re struggling to concentrate on work, set a timer for twenty minutes, and see how much you can get done in that time. Twenty minutes of concentrated work can be more productive than two hours of fiddling around.

  5. Do One Thing
    Our world is becoming faster and busier than ever. It’s all too common for us to be replying to emails, keeping up with friends on Twitter, and holding a conversation with colleagues – while trying to get that big company report finished. No wonder we end up working late.

    Experts now believe that it’s better for us to concentrate on one task at a time, rather than multi-tasking: every time we switch between different tasks, we have to refocus – and we’re also likely to get distracted.

  6. Pay Yourself First
    If you’ve done any reading on financial management, you might have come across the idea of paying yourself first – setting aside money towards your long-term goals each time you get your paycheck. You can apply a similar principle to your time, either on a daily or weekly basis.

    “Pay yourself first” by spending an hour before work each morning on your goals – not on household chores. (If the chores really need to be done, you’ll get them done in the evening.)

  7. Get Enough Sleep
    Many of us try to cram more into our day by cutting out sleeping time: but this can be hugely counter-productive. You’ll never be able to focus well when you’re yawning over your keyboard and if you push yourself too hard for too long, you may end up getting ill.

    Some people can function well with under eight hours sleep, but most of us need to be getting at least seven hours.

  8. Track Your Time
    Where does all the time go? I’m sure that’s a question most of us have asked ourselves recently. Of course, it’s not hard to find out: simply spend a week keeping track of your time, writing down what you do each hour.

    Don’t make the excuses that you “don’t have time” to do this – it’ll only take a few extra minutes during the day (simply make a note of the time you start and end each task) – and it can reveal some uncomfortable truths about where you’re spending the bulk of your time.

  9. Schedule Time for Emails
    When you sit down at your computer in the morning, what’s the first thing you do? For many of us, it’s checking emails. It’s easy to get sucked into replying to just one thing ... only to find that it’s lunch-time and you’ve not really accomplished anything.

    If you find yourself checking emails whenever you’re stuck or procrastinating, then set yourself rigid times to read and reply. You could try 11am and 4pm – it’s unlikely that anyone really needs a reply from you at 8am.

  10. Delegate Whenever Possible
    Finally, the best way that I’ve found to free up my time is to delegate. The more tasks you can pass on to other people, the easier it’ll be to cope with your own workload. This might mean training a subordinate to take over some of your tasks at work, it might mean hiring a virtual assistant for your home business, or it could just be getting your spouse or teens to cook dinner once in a while.

    Many of us find delegating stressful, so here are some tips on how to do it right.
Which of the above ten tips work for you? Have you got a favorite time-management tip that’s not on this list? Let us know in the comments…

Written on 12/28/2009 by Ali Hale. Ali is a professional writer and blogger, and a part-time postgraduate student of creative writing. If you need a hand with any sort of written project, drop her a line (ali) or check out her website at Aliventures.Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks

0 Rousseau and Echolocation

[Image: Perspective by Jan Vredeman de Vries; no explicit relation to this post].

Writing about the human experience of night before electricity, A. Roger Ekirch points out that almost all internal architectural environments took on a murky, otherworldy lack of detail after the sun had gone down. It was not uncommon to find oneself in a room that was both spatially unfamiliar and even possibly dangerous; to avoid damage to physical property as well as personal injury to oneself, several easy techniques of architectural self-location would be required.

Citing Jean-Jacques Rousseau's book Émile, Ekirch suggests that echolocation was one of the best methods: a portable, sonic tool for finding your way through unfamiliar towns or buildings. And it could all be as simple as clapping. From Émile: "You will perceive by the resonance of the place whether the area is large or small, whether you are in the middle or in a corner." You could then move about that space with a knowledge, however vague, of your surroundings, avoiding the painful edge where space gives way to object. And if you get lost, you can simply clap again.

Ekirch goes on to say, however, that "a number of ingenious techniques" were developed in a pre-electrified world for finding one's way through darkness (even across natural landscapes by night). These techniques were "no doubt passed from one generation to another," he adds, implying that there might yet be assembled a catalog of vernacular techniques for navigating darkness. It would be a fascinating thing to read.

Some of these techniques, beyond Rousseau and his clapping hands, were material; they included small signs and markers such as "a handmade notch in the wood railing leading to the second floor," allowing you to calculate how many steps lay ahead, as well as backing all furniture up against the walls at night to open clear paths of movement through the household.

Entire, community-wide children's games were also devised so that everyone growing up in a village could become intimately familiar with the local landscape.
    Games like "Round and Round the Village," popular in much of England, familiarized children at an early age to their physical surroundings, as did fishing, collecting herbs, and running errands. Schooled by adults in night's perils, children learned to negotiate the landscapes "as a rabbit knows his burrow"—careful after dark to skirt ponds, wells, and other hazardous terrain. In towns and cities, shop signs, doorways, and back alleys afforded fixed landmarks for neighborhood youths.
Incredibly, Ekirch points out, "Only during the winter, in the event of a heavy snowfall, could surroundings lose their familiarity, despite the advantage to travels of a lighter, more visible landscape." The mnemonic presence of well-known community landmarks has been replaced by what mammoth calls a "whitesward."

But this idea, so incredibly basic, that children's games could actually function as pedagogic tools—immersive geographic lessons—so that kids might learn how to prepare for the coming night, is an amazing one, and I have to wonder what games today might serve a similar function. Earthquake-preparedness drills?

In any case, we return to Rousseau. We see him advancing, now, heading forward into unknown architecture, dark space enveloping him on all sides, the walls fading into obscurity, black, leg-breaking stairwells threatening in the distance, unsure of where he stands, entirely alone in this shadow... until we hear a series of claps. And then another. Then one more.

And the philosopher, echoing himself, finding comfort and location based on objects he can't see, soon works his way out of the labyrinth.

Sabtu, 26 Desember 2009

0 How To Land A Freelance Writing Job

Freelance writing is a fabulous industry that allows you to stay at home and run your own business. Despite the ease in which you can find online based writing work, most wannabe writers struggle to find their feet in this chosen vocation. They often fail to lap over the first hurdle - getting a job.

What stops most aspiring online writers is the guts to "just go for it." They end up being held hostage by their own fear of failure and never make it past the starting line.

Procrastination is the biggest reason for their failure! Unless you try, you'll never know whether something could have worked out or not. In getting back to landing a freelance writing job, let's see how this could affect you.

You know you are a great writer. You think you can make some money writing copy, but how exactly do you get those lucrative writing jobs you read so much about? Navigating the cyber world of job opportunities is not like other job searches. Internet employers are often one man or woman companies who do not require the same rigid application process of resumes and interviews that you have gone through in the past. In fact you might never meet or even speak to your new employer.

It is quite possible to find work, good paying jobs over the Internet with bosses whom you will never meet in person. So the question is, how do you market yourself without the aid of a fancy resume and your thousand watt smile?

Tips of the trade:
  • Never give up.
    When first starting, you might find some little jobs that do not pay much or even work for which you never get paid. Don't let that hinder your determination. Sometimes it takes months or longer of having to comb through different websites and doing lots of little jobs to find that perfect opportunity.

  • Be honest with yourself.
    Give some real thought about the amount of work you are able to take on and how much your work is worth. If you think a certain writing job does not pay you what you are worth then politely refuse the offer.

  • Be honest with your potential employer.
    If you read a job description and you do not understand everything that might be expected of you, say so. Most employers prefer someone who is honest and ready to learn than someone who says they can do things and ends up unable to fulfill required tasks.

  • Don't burn any bridges.
    Just because you no longer want to do a particular job does not mean you must sever a relationship with someone. By the same token if you do not get a job for which you have applied, accept the rejection with grace. Don't be surprised if those same employers contact you again for other work or if things don't work out with your replacement.

  • Stay in touch...
    with the freelance writing community. Network with as many people doing different things as you can. Read blogs and forums and ask questions. There are so many avenues to go down in this industry that you need to have several different irons in the fire at all times. It will help you get ahead and be more marketable because you are knowledgeable about what is going on in the community.
You will also find that by simply taking the first step - regardless how silly it might feel at the time - you can start to gain some invaluable industry contacts and even land a great long term job to boot. I have scored some of the best clients by going with my gut feeling. Others have ended up employing my services because they saw my prose published on another blog.

Getting freelance writing jobs is easy. Landing freelance writing jobs that are regular and pay well, requires a little bit more work. Knowing what works for you and how to get your work recognized and valued is the key to getting bankable writing jobs.

Written on 12/27/2009 by Monika Mundell. Monika is a passionate freelance writer and pro-blogger. Her blog Freelance Writing helps new freelance writers to get started in this exciting industry. If you like to work with Monika, feel free to visit her Portfolio site.Photo Credit: Bright Meadow

0 Xmas!

Happy Boxing Day! Just a short picture post before I go off to play Mahjong!!

Dinner @ Modesto's

Incredible Sulk does it again!

Waiting for nom noms


Our starter: Parma ham with Melon!! Mad love this!!

Well of the six slices of melon 3 were ultra sweet and the other 3 super not sweet. Worth half the price.

Mike's Mediterranean pizza... Yucks, olives!

My favourite creamy mushroom pasta!! Slurps slurps

Had time to kill before watching Avatar 3D so we just sat around on at the open area on top of Vivo... People-watching with the giant Xmas tree in front of us. I love that place! It's so big and windy... :)

On a sidenote, Avatar was not bad but I seriously hated the 3D glasses. Gave me a splitting headache!! I hated it when the background is blurry!

And the glasses kept hitting my eyelashes (no, it doesn't mean the lashes are too long, it simply means my nose is too flat), so imagine... for 3 hours I had to HOLD the glasses!! Looked like a retard.


Xmas Eve dinner at Gillian's... Well technically Gillian's parents' place. Had a fab time with Rozz (new blog), Zin, Joan and of course our hosts Gillian + Bryan! The food and company were just spectacular.

Melt in your mouth roast beef... Goodness knows where Auntie Tan gets her crazy good food from, but wow!

The buffet line-up... Aglio Olio was delish!

The hams giving that exclusive Xmas feel

Banquetish waiters were all around and all the table tops were done with super professional looking settings!

Chilli crabs!! I had 2 giant pieces kthxbye

Dessert cakes still in their boxes

Rozz getting a piece of that eggy goodness

Gillian and Joan... I might have shocked Joan with a dirty joke. Oh well, she's heard too many to be shocked anymore HAHAHA

Gillian's bro, Glenn 'subaru' Tan (private joke), with Bryan (navy shirt). LOL

After the yummeh dinner we adjoin to the basement for lounging around and guess what we found!! Gillian's baby photos!!

Hahaha Rozz said she was an ugly child!! Why last time she so black now she so fair and chio one wtf!!!

At 11++ Mike and I left to go to Ben's place...

We arrived to be clouded in popper smoke. -_- It was midnight! Merry Xmas everyone!!!

It was safari themed, which explained my leopard print dress and Ben's ridiculous head gear. And that's Jason before he got uber drunk and forced everyone to drink.

Clara + Ben 2

Junne + Ben 3. Super a lot of people called Ben.

The drinks, which Jason abused

Junne said she took the most unglam photo of me, wiping the side of my mouth. Still chio LOLOL see Jason likes it.

A bit more glam but blurry... Junne is lousy photographer.

A load of Twister photos...

After the 5 guys were bent in awkward positions over the plastic mat,
it was the girls' turn!

Must have made the boys very happy, which explains
the amount of photos taken. -_-

I love this photo!!
Laughing at Junne coz she got a damn awkward position LOL!!!

How come I looks like I has a dimple here?!?

Mike took this picture... Don't know what's his point but ok...

Xmas day itself we just relaxed at home... Momo called and asked us what we are doing (nothing), so she came to my place with my Aunt in tow... AND MADE DUMPLINGS!!!

Bottom: Mommy's dumplings. Top: Aunt's dumplings.
So cute they fold in different styles!!

Nom nom nom! Mad delicious and full of motherly love!!!

I had a wonderful Xmas! What about you guys?
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