鳳凰舞

前幾日諗起淺寫一首詩,今日擺上網:

聆聽門有敲
鳳凰朝相望
立日心已飛
迎接亮雙翼
摸索擇窩棲
充交感鳴哮

版權David Cong所有。

Two Hobos.

Today, I took a temp job. I don’t like the fact that it took time away from my self-improvement activities, but I’m getting paid a smitten for my trouble, and they fed me —although, neither are always a guarantee with these types of jobs, plus we were outside, kept to wait for most of the day, while it was cold, windy, and raining at a certain point. No guarantee of pay or food (or at least a pay that’s high enough to buy food), plus it takes time away from me doing activities I love and that invigorate me.

Should I quit this job?

I kept asking myself this question throughout the whole day. If not,

what should my next move towards something else be?

I hope I can answer that question towards the end of this post…

Meanwhile, the area we were at had lots of homeless people sleeping on benches near us (who hated our presence and flashed red lasers into our eyes), and littered with human feces. This, in contrast to one of the guys with us, who was told to pretend to be a homeless person, who was mistaken by a fellow temp worker as really being homeless, saying how a person “such as himself should be lucky to have a job like this” come up to him and ask, “So, do you think America is a great country?” Why anyone would ask a question like that out of the blue would be hard to understand. Possibly, because seeing this man was a minority, he wanted to connect on the basis of suffering through racial injustices and how that has created a ceiling towards opportunities to progress. Or maybe it was because that guy was from a country that educated everyone to hate the US for decades, while also using nationalism to control their thoughts, because the political ideology that used to do that has crumbled in everyone’s face? I don’t know, regardless, that out-of-left-field question made this man really defensive, saying he didn’t stand for anything, and didn’t have political views. Then, somehow, the Great Recession came into discussion. So that’s when I chimed in, because apparently, I find this sort of topic to be fun, and said, “Hey when the recession hit off, everyone fell down, but the US was still on top of the pile.” He didn’t see it that way, and asked “WHO?! WHO’S on top?! YOU PEOPLE?!” Actually no. The country as a whole, as evidenced by the fact that we’re all here with a job that apparently we share a mutual disdain for. Facts aside, because I don’t know when to shut up and walk away, I have now been lumped into a group of people who have helped keep this person down, and lumped in with an idiot who didn’t know that person was only pretending to be a hobo. Time to create some distance.

On the one hand, you have actual homeless people who really need money, but can’t cash a check, don’t have a home, or even adequate mental care to heal them enough to stop scaring people from hiring them. Then, you have someone who concentrates on all their personal grievances, despite being in the global 1%. So should the latter person be grateful for what they have? FUCK NO! I mean, it helps to appreciate everything around you, but it shouldn’t be a thing to stop you from being a more optimal form of you. So…

What things are you trying to optimize in your life?

If you can’t figure out those things, or even if you’ve identified them, but can’t figure out what’s preventing you from optimizing these things,

What are you trying to resist?

I’m resisting jumping on a job simply for the money. Have I won this battle? Not yet. In fact, I’ve been jumping from one lower-paying job, to another. A job, is something you do to trade your time for money. However, with the down-time that is the only consistent feature of this job, I have time to let my mind wander, and work its way around to finding that a way on

How to trade money for time

.

I’ve seen the sinkhole of most jobs, and the attitude it carries. “I hate my job”, but because of XYZ, I am forced to keep it. I heard that all throughout today from every single person. So what’s preventing us from changing to a job where people actually treat us like human beings? Either we are destined to do this, because we are skilled at this job, that people would recognize immediately, and you’d get treated much better. Or, you lack a skill somewhere else, which you should improve OPTIMIZE upon anyways.

I’ll figure out the answer to these questions on a later date. I need to get my OPTIMAL amount of sleep. In the meantime, let me pile this thing to ponder on you…
Two hobos: One real, one fake. The only thing that sets them apart, is one barely has a roof over their head and a bit more money. Let’s say in a hypothetical world, these things were guaranteed to you. How would you take full advantage of this? If your answer is to do nothing but rest, or to passively intake some form of entertainment as a leisure drug, then you’re not really taking advantage of this time to solve your problems.

Political Debate vs Maturity

I was trying to describe what lead to the current political situation, and the political supporters that caused this. The person kept insisting that these people were simply racists. While I don’t deny there may be this group who came out to vote, that’s not the way they see it, and simply labeling them as such will not be constructive, because not being able to relate to a person on the other side of the political spectrum merely marginalises them. They know it, and thus will be more likely to commit to such extreme choices when not feeling that their own concerns aren’t acknowledged.

This person asked “Why can’t we just call a spade a spade?” Well, people were already labeling these people as racists, but it didn’t give anyone the political outcome they had hoped for, so obviously something didn’t work out. Then again, there’s that third-party Candidate X who this person believes stole votes from the other candidate, because they simply pointed out the fallacies of the other two candidates. In any case, as I simply don’t want to talk about it any further, this person said,

“This may be fun for you, but it’s not for me. Let’s change the subject.”

In all frankness, my inability to drive my point across in a convincing manner was actually very much irritating for me, not the least “fun”.

If this was me just a couple years ago, I would have done what everyone would have done: Re-evaluate our friendship based on this one tiny political difference. Now, I actually appreciate the fact that this person was able to identify their boundary, and let me know clearly that they wanted to end this for the sake of preserving a well-meaning friendship. There probably could have been a better choice of words, but considering how I wasn’t about to change my stance to match opinion, there could have been worse ways to put it. Honestly, if it were me, I’m not even sure I would have been able to handle it quite in the same, manner they did. So this is indeed something to learn from.

新年的意思

在國外經常聽到人說國外過新年沒意思。可是甚麼樣才是個“有意思”的新年呢?
拿紅包?看舞獅,炮仗?吃糖?等到元宵猜燈謎放燈籠?

就算是華人多的地方,也會在電視上播出國內的新年節目,舉辦很多活動。可是如果是在那些華人少的地方怎麼辦?或者,就算在國內回到偏僻的鄉下,沒那麼熱鬧的時候,也會做甚麼呢?

如果是跟家人團聚有意思的,那前提是:就算你平時不怎麼想跟家人在一起,你也願意短暫的拋開煩惱跟他們在一起。

我發覺很多人說“在國外過新年沒意思”這樣的話,會拿自己的國外土生土長的孩子為例子。說他們不願意慶祝傳統新年,不喜歡跟家人吃飯… 其實不想面對的是他們自己本身為了賺錢沒有好好的陪自己的孩子,花時間來慢慢的瞭解他們跟他們溝通。如果“年廿八:洗邋遢”,“年卅:吃團年飯”準備過程當中只有你自己做事兒因為你嫌自己孩子手腳又笨又慢,那他們管你新年呢?同樣的如果想要完成這些東西而對他們“呼来喝去”,就更不想管了。

The Illusionist

[Originally the post was a tiny review of the movie, but the title was re-purposed for this post.]
I had a friend who wanted to hire me multiple times. I turned him down. There are days where I think I shouldn’t have, because the money would be good, and it’d give me a chance to work outside the US. However, I’m still much more satisfied I have my freedom, no matter what costs I’ve had to go through to maintain them.

I turned down this friend though, because even though he’s a cool guy, and I’m glad he sees the worth of my skills, I’ve prescribed him to be a man who schmoozes and boozes with authorities. I mean, all business people do that no matter what country, but these are the authorities who partake in a system that was hellbent on stealing everything away from my family, and have very different values from me. Do I resent this friend for his dealings with these authorities? No, he had to do what he had to, and his business has thrived because of it. Just the same, I’ve taken jobs with a similar organisation on the other side of the aisle, so I’m not any better than he is.

Today, I was reminded of another friend. He used to be in a position not too different from my friend above. He was in the propaganda department of said government. While he wasn’t part of the policy-making apparatus, he was still a part of that machine. Now, he’s here and making good money. No fault in it of itself, after all, he escaped that place for a reason. So having worked in the propaganda department, and having dealt with big studios in other countries, I asked him what it took to get his projects released, and he told me the art of selling. Basically, be there, find out their problem, help solve it —only thing is, whatever product you have or want, don’t sell it. Voila! OK, simple enough, right? Once again, schmooze and booze with people, seems to come natural to him and other people I know.

Then, just like the friend above, he continued to try to recruit me to his company. Already connecting the dots, he then went on to tell me how, schmoozing and boozing with those people are the same skills as what’s needed in what he’s recruiting for. It’s the marriage of exercise in skills needed, while at the same time a way to gain income.

I make money out of nothing but thin air.

, he told me.

I got it, and even before he was proselytizing this job (whose product I ultimately don’t believe in), I was already asking: Can I schmooze and booze with people at all? My rejection from grad school, the hardships I’ve experienced in the past couple of years, has been because I’m the nail that sticks out, and people don’t want that. They want people they can talk to about things that I find trivial: The latest comic book movie, some sports event/irrelevant team, the luxury value of some automobile, what happened on some TV show I don’t have the time to watch, or some gameplay value of something I don’t want to waste my time on. No one wants a person they can’t relate to. After all,

“出る釘は打たれる” (the nail that sticks out gets hammered).

So then, the ultimate question is: Can I learn something from schmoozing and boozing with people to which it will be hard to find common ground? Can this actually be a good exercise to try to relate to people you otherwise wouldn’t? OR, would all the time and effort spent towards strengthening this weakness be better spent by fortifying my strengths? I value my freedom: La Libertà. I enjoy pursuing the random things life that other people neglect. After all, it’s a monopoly over a domain (for which there is no market). However, is it worth giving up for a moment (if not for the money, the potential learning experience)???

On the Observance and Execution of Procrastination.

I’m not one to WANT to go out of my way to procrastinate on things per se (that would be more sabotage), but I do end up procrastinating on a lot of things in my life. Sadly, I don’t know what to do about this, until I see other people procrastinating on THEIR projects, that I can see my own folly.

What was the issue? A friend said they wanted to look for a [industry] job. So I offered to help with correcting their resume; something I used to do in my last job. The only thing I requested, was that they look for the job postings, and then we would go over their past experiences to customize their experiences to fit the job posting to write their resume. Simple right?

Well, he didn’t find any job postings, but at least he found a list of websites to check out jobs. This is a communication error on my part. Then, we spent time looking at jobs outside of the [industry]. Was a resume even drafted up? No.

So the goal was set to write a resume, and I didn’t achieve that. That’s ok. I helped him get a step closer so that he can write his own resume. Truth be told, he even admitted to me that he didn’t really want to look for a robin [industry], it’s just that I supposedly told him to get one as a side hustle to do our other thing. From my point of view, I remember it as him saying he needed some form of stable cash and said that [industry] was a viable option at the moment, which is when I offered to help him with his resume. Whatever. I had set a goal for him, and then didn’t accomplish it for whatever reason.

OK. How many goals have we established for ourselves and never ended finishing them? That’s right. I’m not talking about getting the results you want, I’m actually talking about finishing your own goals you had set for yourself. All the time, I bet.

So back to this friend… The communication problems and lack of completion could have avoided, if I drew out the steps:

  1. Look for job postings.
  2. Draft up resume with keywords from job posting.
  3. I go over them with you, and edit, to draft up best version.

Actually, come to think of it… I DID break it down for him. However, the way I said it, later turned into something I pushed upon him, rather than it being something he came to me with. Once again the communication problem came down to me. I’m working on this. But more importantly, he had a major distraction in front of him: The television.

”Γιατί στις αληθινά δύσκολες στιγμές δεν ανερχόμαστε στο ύψος των προσδοκιών, των ευχών και της φαντασίας μας. Απλά πέφτουμε στο επίπεδο της εκπαίδευσης και της προετοιμασίας μας.”-Ἀρχίλοχος
“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” -Archilochus

Whether its distractions I have set up for myself, or what others have inflicted upon me, I have been conditioned to be distracted from completing my goals. I’ve managed to get away from most of these toxic people, to surround myself in a bubble where I can work towards completing these goals.

  • Mindfulness
  • Healing my body
  • Books
  • Finance

If this was me 6 years ago, I would have listed out steps for all these things. However, I just want to concentrate on the first one: Mindfulness.

  1. Meditate 20 minutes a day.
  2. Clear out my mind, by clearing out my room
    • Will sweep the floor every morning.
    • Throw away one item (on any open horizontal surface), or put it on a shelf:
      • Bedroom: fold bed, wipe table+organize.
      • Living room: wipe off tv stand+organize
      • Bathroom: Wipe sink+toilet+bathtub+wall+curtains
      • Kitchen:sink+dish rack
    • Will wipe down all surfaces in one component of the house, and clean tools.

Yeah, I put all the nooks and crannies in. Not because I don’t already clean any of these, but they look disorganised. Plus, having moved into many places, I’ve seen the conditions people have left these places in.

Sushi Hierarchy (Happy New Year!)

I met an old friend up in PA last Thursday. We had sushi for dinner. Honestly, I hate grabbing sushi. You never eat enough to feel full, and if it’s good, it’s really expensive. However, most are just poor quality, but still not worth it. Admittedly, I was spoiled with really good sushi in Hawaii and Japan. So we went to a place, and there were two Japanese ladies eating there, which was a good sign. However, I didn’t like the attitude of the waitress, and I could hear her Chinese accent (ever so slight), which made it discouraging. Then, I heard the chef and kitchen staff arguing in Mandarin, and the R’s were extremely thick. I told my friend, “Not bad for being run by Chinese.”
He said, “You know? Your life would be much happier if you weren’t so perceptive.” So true. No argument here.
As far as the chef’s accent goes, I’ve actually never heard anyone, even my northeast friends from 瀋陽(ShenYang) sound that extreme. I started laughing.

Was it bad? Definitely not. It was actually surprisingly passable sushi, and I had more gripe with the front staff’s attitude than the food. However, considering the amount of food to the price, it still wasn’t worth it.

When it comes to Japanese food, I have laid out the order of Japanese restaurants (especially sushi) according to the ethnicity of who runs it:

  1. JAPANESE: If it’s not done by Japanese, I always question the quality because of the Japanese approach to minutiae. (Of course, the exception being the old grumpy people who just keep doing things out of a sense of duty with everyday misery, and no love).
  2. Koreans: Despite their different palates, their sense for raw food is similar. Japanese restaurants run by Koreans seems to be the most common type I go to. Quite possibly because most restaurants run by Koreans before 2000, were usually Japanese for whatever reason. In any case, there are a couple items that give away the fact that it’s Korean, and maybe I’ll talk about that another day.
  3. TAIWANESE: Even after colonization, Japan’s influence on the island still remained, and enough Japanese people stayed behind as well. On top of that, the Taiwanese tend to cater to Chinese palates. However, the Taiwanese still can’t get it right like those mentioned above.

Am I racist? When it comes to food: Yes. We can discuss at length another day. Back to sushi: I remember two years prior to this last place, we tried a sushi place that was open on Christmas Day. Bad idea. The staff spoke Cantonese. Now, when it comes to Chinese food, “食在廣州,” (“Eat in Canton“) but this is not Cantonese food, nor were they serving 順德魚生(ShunTak raw fish) or 佛山九江魚生 (FatShan Nine Rivers raw fish). The sushi wasn’t fresh, and it wasn’t all that cheap (although, that area has a high cost of living), and they had some of the weirdest sushi concoctions that just didn’t taste right.

Years prior to that, this same friend took me to a place known for questionable quality food in general, and he went specifically for their sushi –we were both disappointed. The chef was Japanese, but if you weren’t introduced by one of his personal friends, you wouldn’t get the good cuts, so there are notable exceptions to the above guidelines.

I don’t have any set rules of identifying places right off the bat. I usually have to step into a place to identify which guideline the place fits by listening to the language spoken by the staff and the kitchen staff in the back, but by then, it’s usually too late. So here are two resources you may want to use:

Maybe this can help some sushi lovers with deep pockets get better quality sushi in 2017.

Atonement

The original timestamp for this post was on: 2008-01-04 07:13:32, and was just a short comment on a good time I had with wonderful people from my past, watching the movie “Atonement”. Yet, I remember the movie less so than the friends I watched it with, and sadly, I haven’t maintained contact with them.

losing my photographer just brought that idea of losing those around me. I’m saddened by the fact that I can’t continue on this journey we call life, at the same time I’m happy for them in that even though they are continuing to face pressures from other directions (including from me) and decided to cut them off to concentrate on something for themselves. There’s definitely something to learn from this. Most of us feel that we are bogged down by things or people around our lives, but never do anything to improve it. Sometimes, we had well-defined goals, and then rather than realising our full potentials, gave it all up because of those around us. Whether they were harassing us for what we were doing, or maybe for those people that supposedly love us but then end up putting us down or just not helping us become our better selves.

Now with less constraints, there is no excuse for us. No person is holding the other down, and the only person stopping us from achieving our full potential is no one else but us. I had goals that I broke away from because of pressure from other people, and it’s time I redefined my purpose, and give myself new direction in my life, just like my photographer. Thank you for that reminder, I am forever grateful, and continue to learn something new in your absence.

Lost Photographer

Halloween, Dios de Los Muertos, or whatever it is you call today. Today has not been a good day. Results for a test came in: I failed. Dryer rack broke and fell (like my test results). My mood has also fallen.

I’m starting to breath normally again as I write this post. With a heavy heart, I just lost someone that I had designated as my “photographer”. Long-time readers of this blog will remember the post 刻骨銘心嘅記憶, where I made note of my ability to remember really obscure things, and because of this, didn’t need to be a photographer. However, there are many moments I’d like to share with those who mean something to me, and if all the images are only in my head, that makes it hard.

There was a person I designated as my photographer, but for whatever reason they decided to stop talking to me, and I feel really awful for this. Was it because of something I did? Was it because of something I said? Quite possibly both. I thought that recently we had shared some very good conversations, but when they had few bad days, they apologised for not responding to me sooner. I said “It’s OK! It’s over now!” I didn’t mean that it was over between me and this person, but that the horrible event that they just overcame is over, and meant for it to be a moment to rejoice. Yet, I didn’t realize how ambiguous that message was until much, much later. At this point, they must be very sad. I’ve tried to explain myself, but I’m blocked, unfriended, and without a way to say anything. All I can say is, I’m sorry, if this is the reason they chose not to talk to me.

If there is another reason, the ever-curious me would like to know why, but maybe I’ll never get that chance. If there’s anything I could say to this person, is I never meant to hurt them.

I don’t have this person’s pictures anymore, but I will remember this person for what I’ve learned from them.

Automatic: Flow or Drone?

Today, I mow over another bit of the past. Removing pages that shouldn’t be around, and continually trimming things that I no longer want in this page.

Yesterday, I was on a set, and people were earnestly talking to me, yet I was completely detached. I gave minimally-required responses that were expected to make a conversation interactive, in hopes that maybe it would eventually blossom into a real conversation that I feel I could participate in.

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot into Mindfulness, and trying to be mindful with the current moment, and those around me. I obviously was not being mindful of where I was, and what I was doing. I wasn’t just disengaged from the conversation, but also from my actions as well. I was just doing my job automatically without thinking about the tasks at hand, I just did them. Meanwhile, my mind drifted away into other thoughts.

In fact, I’ve been doing this for so long, that it’s become my modus operandi. Then,
I got to thinking about this phenomenon: Even though I’m doing these things automatically because I’m familiar with them, I’m not in a “State of flow”.

In essence, the state of flow means that you are fully immersed in a specific activity, where you are fully focused and completely energized. Some call this “being in the zone”.

So when was the last time I actually had this feeling of total immersion? I can’t remember, but here are some ways to identify them:

  • So focused on something that everything disappears.
  • All action and awareness is dedicated to that one thing.
  • Time can either speed up or slow. Self-consciousness disappears.

So how do I train for it? How do I achieve this?

  1. Overload your brain with all sorts of information. (This starts with you being very uncomfortable.)
  2. Stop thinking about the problem (release yourself from it).
  3. Deep low. Recovery. (unpleasant).

“Hacking flow” means learning how to manage that recovery. Hm… This post went in a different direction from where I thought it’d go…