Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Reading Summaries.

I've been reading a lot and not reviewing what I've read. (And not blogging here as well) So here is a summary of everything I've read so far. In the order that I've read them.

The Design of Everyday Things - Don Norman.
A book that makes you consider how products and machines in our world are designed, but really geared more towards user interface or product designers. Nothing really about visual communication although the design principles are the same. And the research/know your target audience/diverge/converge ideas are all the same. Interesting nonetheless, especially the parts about human error and how humans are bound to make errors - it should be the machine's fault for allowing human errors to happen.

The litigators - John Grisham.
It's like a classic hero's tale as a big time lawyer quits his job to work in a struggling boutique firm. I seem to have read almost all of John Grisham's books already. :( Haha it was a great read but played out a bit predictably, like watching a movie when you know the ending will be happy.

Up Against It - M.J. Locke.
Quite interesting science fiction book with very dramatic descriptions of life on an asteroid. Long read though. But quite standard science fiction tropes just blended together well (transhumanism, resource management, artificial intelligence, that kind of thing)

Bagombo Snuff Box - Kurt Vonnegurt.
It's Vonnegurt! I'm probably going to finish all of his and Ray Bradbury's books soon at the rate I'm reading. But this collection of short stories are quite an easy read. Most stories can be finished (and forgotten about) in one sitting. Still awesome.

Steel Beach - John Varley.
Considering that it was written and published in 1993, this book probably had/still has many controversial ideas. Haha including constant gender changes by the protagonist which makes you wonder if the author has a hidden agenda. But other than the interesting opening sentence, it was a great story with a good enough conclusion and many plot twists and turns. Haha what a nonsense review you must be thinking, this guy is describing all books. But anyways if you like reading about what life might be like on the moon and what would happen if an alien race invaded the earth but left the moon colony alone (this point is never resolved in the book by the way) and reading a bit into motivations behind suicide and what drives us as individuals or as a species. Then this book is for you. I would think this book is better than Up Against It above haha oops.

While Mortals Sleep - Kurt Vonnegurt.
Another Vonnegurt? More short stories again. I feel like short stories are akin to watching short videos on youtube (especially comedy sketch videos hah). They get the point across in the shortest amount of time and yet the point is made strongly (or even stronger due to it's brevity). I liked what the introduction said about Vonnegurt being the moral voice of our time (although he's no longer around). Stories nowadays tend to be post-modernist, nobody-is-right-or-wrong-ist, gray area ambiguous interpretation, guess what the author is saying. Vonnegurt's stories have a strong moral ending (which is not necessarily right, but not necessarily wrong either ayy haha). Like the old fairy tales or children's stories where the moral of the story is do good. But Vonnegurt's morals aren't that explicit, you know it's there, but you still needa find it. Anyway, I'm rambling.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Anathem - Neal Stephenson

Having never read Neal Stephenson before, I decided to borrow this book from the library on the basis of having seen his name appear on various awards lists. I had no idea what I was getting into. (See also: You wouldn't believe what happened next)

Friday, 20 February 2015

A New Year.

I spent my countdown to Chinese New Year at a watch night service. I had no prior intentions of attending it so it was a surprise when I found myself attending the service. And even though they sang Chinese songs which I had to struggle to make out the meaning of (and gloss over those unfamiliar words), it was a humbling experience.

It quite a shock initially when my dad and I were suddenly plagued with requests for microphones and why the sound isn't coming out and the projectors not working or the drum monitors not receiving any input. I really need to learn how to at least set up the system soon so that future incidents will not be so haphazard.

So there I was struggling to make sense of the mixer and trying to figure out why the projector wasn't working when the speaker said don't worry about it, we will make do with what is available. And so the service started.

The amazing thing I think, was that things worked. It was not perfect, and I had no idea what I was doing. But sound was coming from the worship team and it sounded good. In fact, it sounded great. It was an amazing worship experience, and incredibly humbling.

Incredibly humbling because the worship leader was clicking to go to the next slide even whilst singing. Humbling because the team were all so unassuming yet so gifted at their individual instruments. It was humbling that "making do with what is available" simply worked. It didn't even matter that they couldn't hear each other (or themselves), I think the only thing that mattered to them was worshiping God, and it showed.

And the people around me were (probably) all older than me and looked on the outside to be like typical conservative uncles and aunties, but when it came to worship they had so much unabashed energy and enthusiasm that made me feel stoic by comparison.

So that was my celebration of Chinese New Year. Singing songs that I didn't know in a language that was unfamiliar at times, but blessed to have spent it with strangers united in our faith in God. So yes, good was to start the new year.

Friday, 13 February 2015

The Short Novels of John Steinbeck

Okay second post of 2015 and it shall be another book review cause I have no one to talk to about books I've read.

I always thought it was John Steinback instead of Steinbeck. So one thing I learnt from reading this book was the author's name.

I borrowed this book having already read two of the novellas inside, Of Mice and Men and The Pearl. And it was kind of interesting to re-read them again seeing as how I only remember the *spoiler* parts and forgot the rest of the stuff mostly. Haha.

I read the Pearl as my literature text in Secondary 1, and that was an amazing long 10 years ago. It was the first time reading anything by John Steinbeck though, and I have to say that being forced to analyze the text takes all the joy out of reading. Especially when you have to analyze it as homework.

I only remember reading the whole thing in about 2 days, then slogging through all the 'literary analysis' and answering questions like why Kino heard the music of this and that. Blah blah blah.

It is ironic then, that here I am 10 years later, willingly writing my thoughts about the exact same book, of my own volition. I completely forgot some *spoilers* from The Pearl as well, so there's that self-created deja vu feeling again.

Of Mice and Men was bought back in Polytechnic Year 2, which is another staggering 5 years ago. Such a nice multiple of 5 thing going on here huh. I do remember bringing it to New Zealand to read though, and finishing it by day 6 cause it was so short. Reading it again really showed how everything from the start of the book leads and builds up to the ending. I think if this book was given to us to read instead of The Pearl in Secondary 1, it would definitely have led to more "analysis" with more grey areas to discuss about. Instead of the usual "Corporation vs the man" thing. Although then again, it was for 13 year olds so maybe learning about greed and income inequality is the best subject for that impressionable young age. Haha.

Okay the other 4 books were pretty much the same. I thought that Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row were hilarious at some parts. But I do think all of John Steinbeck's books have depressing endings. Or if not depressing then at least melancholy. Very bleak endings, but still, you feel better for having read it.

Maybe a modern day equivalent would be say, Korean Dramas and how they make us feel so sad for the plight of the characters. I can not believe I am comparing John Steinbeck to Korean Dramas. What is this world coming to. Hahaha.

But I do think it's a book that causes you to think and reflect for some time after reaching the ending of each story. I remember reaching the end of "The Moon is Down" whilst on the train to work, and being unable to read anything for the rest of the day because the ending was so *spoiler*.

That's all I have to say.

Matthew 26:20-25

20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.  
21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 
22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?” 
23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 
24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” 
25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” 
Jesus answered, “You have said so.”
I think this is the most awkward situation in the Bible. I imagine the disciples must have been like:

And Judas:

Tuesday, 30 December 2014


At the risk of being way too personal, but I've realised that living at home without your parents isn't all it's cut out to be.

If it was 12 year old or 16 year old me, I would be rejoicing! No one chasing me to go to bed? No one waking me up in the morning for school? No one controlling how long I spend playing Runescape?!

But now that I'm older it doesn't feel that exciting at all and I'm faced with endless chores to do. Laundry (Hang fold or iron?), feeding and cleaning after Snowie, boiling water, taking out the trash.

I guess that's how you realise that you're old. When you no longer think about woodcutting in Runescape or hidden skulls in Halo anymore but think about whether there will be good sun for the clothes instead.

I used to wish that I had a credit/debit card so I could buy games or subscriptions online, but now that I actually do have a credit/debit card, it doesn't seem that enticing anymore. There's your savings and living expenses to think about, not to mention your emergency fund, or your future career progression to consider.

It does make you appreciate how your parents have worked hard for you. So maybe next time when my kids are misbehaving I should take a week on holiday and leave them to themselves. (I am kidding please don't call Child Protective Services for my as yet non-existent kids)

Maybe that's why I got a skateboard for myself. To subconsciously feel young again hahahaha.