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We are what we think & my blog entries reflect how I think. Have a sip of the poison of my mind.. It's not always lethal.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Hands-On With The Galaxy S7 & S7 Edge

It's like the wayward son finding his way back on course again, thank goodness.

Previously, I dissed the S6 series for having taken away the staple features the Galaxy series have always been celebrated for. Now, the S7 series is finally here and like an S Apologist, finally makes things right again - for the most part. And hot damn, that edged screen..

Fondling the S7 series in the store

Right off the bat, I'll just let it be known that I'm not interested in the smaller S7 with its 5.1 inches display and 3000 mAh capacity battery. I'm a phablet guy who enjoys a bigger screen and a bigger battery, so the bigger S7 Edge with its 5.5 incher and 3600 mAh battery (yum) is where it's at for me. I like it bigger and juicier, that's what she said.

The first thing that captures the attention when I approach the display sets at the Samsung store is the screen. And oh my, what a beautiful screen the S7 Edge is sporting. Even though the screen is 5.5 inches across, it does seem smaller than it actually is because of the edged display and thin bezels. It's almost like a visual trick to my eyes, at least. That screen is not only looking beautifully sharp, I love the way the contents flow off the edged parts, making them pop outwards and towards you. It's stunning, to say the least. But wait, you will have to deal with some occasional mistaps as well as some glare on the edged parts under certain lighting conditions and angles.

In the S7 Edge's case, beauty does come with small prices here and there. I guess the Edge is a phone that you will have to train yourself in how you hold the phone while using it; it certainly feels more delicate than your typical flat-screened phone. I can imagine that using a good case ought to alleviate the problem to a more manageable degree though, as well as lessening accidental mistaps on those edges, with the sides of the case also functioning as bezels of sorts.

Turning the phone over to its back disgusts me as expected, what with all the eewy fingerprints and grime stuck on the glass surface. I don't know about you, but I don't like glass backs because of this very reason but I use cases on my phones anyway, rendering supposedly premium glass builds moot for me. Since it's glass and glass is more fragile, you better protect your expensive investment for the long haul anyway. So much for glass.

OEMs will always tempt you to buy their phones by making you fall for the first visual impression, causing you not to ponder about the potential problems that might come with the physical look and build in the long run, so look beyond the physical beauty and think long term in real-life practical day-to-day usage as a discerning consumer before you plunk down that credit card at the cashier. As for screen protectors that works well for those edged surfaces, the jury's still out. See? Think a few paces ahead of what the OEMs want you to think feel on impulse.

All in all, the S7 Edge not only looks good, it feels good too in the hand with its thin bezels and width.


The first thing I'll always do before I dive into the software of any display phone set is to hit the multitasking button and close out all running apps in the background. People have the tendency to leave their crap behind for the next person to clean up after them, you see. If the crap is too much, the phone might choke since RAM and running resources are not infinite.

With all the junk zapped, the S7 Edge sure feels zippy. Whether it can remain zippy for the long haul will depend on user habit and periodic management of the device, especially when all the apps the user needs have all been installed and used for some time - which is something​ to bear in mind when it comes to new phones. But from what I'm observing here, the apps and the launcher are running smoothly.

The white interface of the system UI is ok, but I prefer it dark instead. Well, there's the theme store to take care of that, but I wonder if the colour schemes of themes will stick if I install another launcher after that though. Firing up the gallery to look at the photos and videos is a treat, as the contents pop and flow off the edged screens beautifully. I'm​ liking that quite a bit. I'm not sure about glare at the edges under sunlight though, since I can't untether the display sets from their stands and bring them outside under the sun to see.

As I've mentioned, how long the running software and apps can remain smooth would be something which only long term usage can really tell, so I can't attest to that yet even though things seem smooth at the moment. But that's a mileage that varies among different users in terms of usage habits and user prudence, so you can't nail such a thing down and apply the same experience across the board.

Finally, I'm not sure why Samsung has removed the IR blaster which has proven quite convenient and rather fun for me on my Note 4 (the coffeeshops will never know it was me who switched their TV programmes whenever what I was seeing was boring as heck). But oh well, at least the SD card slot is back - something much more important to me than an IR blaster when all is said and done. It's nice having an IR blaster, definitely, but it's more of a want rather than a need for me.


I like the S7 Edge. I've mentioned in my other blog post that if I should switch over to another phone with a non-removable battery, then it has to have at least a 3500 mAh battery. In this area, the S7 Edge hits the mark.

Will I buy the S7 Edge? No I won't, even though I like the phone. I'm more of a Note person and if the S series has bloated to a bigger and more beautiful 5.5 inches screen and a bigger battery, perhaps the next Note might surpass 5.7 inches with reduced bezels and come packing more juice - A bigger curved screen with reduced overall physical size and being able to go a longer distance. Slurp.

But yeah, it's hard to pass up on the S7 Edge. It has turned my head to give it a second look, unlike the previous iterations before it. That's a good thing in my non-fiction book. From the handicapped S6 series, which to me personally, was a failed experiment, I think Samsung has redeemed themselves with the S7 series this time.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Family's House Moving: From West To East

Mum has been staying with my elder sister, her hubby and their 3 children for many years now ever since the late 90's, after my nephew (my elder sister's first child) was born and mum took on the task to provide an extra pair of hands to help take care of my nephew when his parents go to work during the day and at the same time, be a coach and guide to their maid.

As the subsequent long years rolled by, my 2 nieces were born 5 years apart from each other and multiple maids have come and gone when their employment contracts ended. Currently, mum is still helping to take care of my youngest niece who is going through primary education as well as providing guidance to their present maid. My elder sister is indeed blessed with the ideal family setup and wonderful children.

They have been staying in the western part of the country just like I am (me and my Lioness in our own den) and my second sister as well (her own house). Since we all stay in the west, visiting one another at our own respective places of residence during the family gatherings has always been convenient.

Today, my elder sister and her family, along with mum and their maid Zo, are moving over to the newly bought condominium apartment in the east my elder sis and her hubby purchased - which is at the extreme opposite end of the country. Elder sis and her hubby fell in love with the apartment with its handsome sea view.

As family, me, my Lioness, my second sister and her boyfriend all came to help with the house moving. I'm actually going through a bout of coughs and phlegm buildup and therefore, I'm feeling a bit under the weather; but I knew I could still manage it and helped my family out. We made trips back and forth from west to east and back again (picking up my Lioness halfway after she finished her alternate Saturday half-day work), shifting labelled cartons and furniture over to the new place.

Halfway through the chores, prolonged exposure to the dust associated with house moving intensified my phlegm buildup which made me more uncomfortable, resulting in my nasal passage feeling like it's choked up like a clogged-up rusty old pipe while at the same time, I had to deal with my coughs. To alleviate my condition, I drank as much water as I could.

Towards early evening, we finally managed to shift the last of everything over from the old house. Phew. Now that the dust has settled and I can breathe easier again, my Lioness and me both went downstairs to have a little stroll to check out the condominium compound.

To conclude this house moving day, elder sis and my bro-in-law took all of us out for a sumptuous dinner before we all went home. When my Lioness and me got back to our block, she went up to our house while I go get my coffee fix at the neighbourhood basketball court and at the same time, deal with something welling up inside me and subtly gnawing at me from within. I guess it's another Emo moment.

The impact of distance punches in

For so many years since the late 90's, family always felt like just a short bus ride or a short train ride away. That feeling ended today. From now on, I will have to travel from one end of the country to the extreme opposite end to visit my family at their new home.

Today almost felt like sending off people dear to you who were migrating. That's an exaggeration of the situation, I know, but at the same time, the parallelism was there; albeit a similarity that's of a less severe magnitude in comparison. Even so, I'm beginning to miss my family already and I'll go as far as to admit here that I'm wondering why I'm feeling strangely.. 'abandoned', for lack of a better word. I wonder if second sis, who is left behind in the west as well, is feeling the same.

You are probably rolling your eyes already at this point but like I've said, 'tis an Emo moment. Emo moments are usually not very aligned with, and skewed a little from actual reality and they are usually exaggerated and overblown perceptions of said reality; but the fact remains that I'm finding myself to be really missing my family a lot now as I take sips of my coffee. It's not the coffee though.

Before today, it had always been comforting knowing that family was so close by. But now, they've moved far away. That won't stop me from seeing them of course, but I guess the comfort of anytime-close-accessibility has been replaced by a huge chasm called 'distance'. Distance makes the heart grow fonder and creates an Emo out of you.

On top of it all, I'm worried about mum. She told me that it was rather hard for her to leave her friends behind in the west. You see, my mum is elderly and her legs are giving her some problems, so it won't be an easy matter for her to travel the long distance to go visit her friends back in the west. Mum told me she is really gonna miss her morning coffee sessions with her friends. As it happens, she doesn't know anyone living in the eastern part where she has just moved to.

I'm making a mental note to call mum even more often now to chat with her and to remind her to come stay over at my place whenever her granny-caretaker duties can be put on temporary hold. Before I left just now, I made sure that her portable radio was right next to her bed. At night, she listens to her favourite radio station. I hope her humble little radio companion will take her mind off her losses during the night when the mind tends to wander more.

From where I'm sitting at the dark basketball court, I can see the road off in the distance where the bus that took me to my family's former house always travelled along. What used to be a comfortably short 25 minutes bus ride has now been replaced by coming to 2 hour's total of grinding train and feeder bus rides. The same transportation grinding will of course, have to be repeated going in the opposite direction when I make my way back to my house at the end of the day. I better look into exercises that strengthen butt endurance and fitness.

Despite the out-of-place and weird sense of 'abandonment' I'm feeling that really shouldn't even be there at all, I am happy for my family for having moved to a really pleasant new home with a much more prettier and lovelier view; I actually find the view at the balcony to be rather therapeutic. I suppose the balcony will be the favourite spot where my family will be chilling out at the most. I would myself. The only minus factor though, is that the hall is much smaller than their former house's. The bedrooms are smaller in comparison too, but not by too much.

Well, I'll have some major travelling distance adjustments to adapt to from hereon in the family gathering department of things. Why can't they start inventing wormholes already?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Thoughts On The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

Is the S7 series resultant of consumer common sense demand snatching the reins back from counter-productive manufacturer deviations gone wayward? This blog post reflects my thoughts on the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge Samsung just officially unveiled to the world.

The atrocity that was the S6 series

The latest S7 Edge is sure as heck damn fine looking with those sexy curved edges that make screen content seem to pop out visually, while the normal S7 with its normal flat screen looks just.. well, normal.

The sales figures of the previous S6 series had been a costly flop. My sympathy goes out to the rank-and-file Samsung employees who lost their jobs but I can't say the same for the top suits who had direct control over the decision to nerf the S6 series to its atrociously underwhelming state. It served them right for having removed useful features all in one fell swoop which the Galaxies had all along been famous for: the removal of expandable storage and removable battery; which in its place, substituting it with a pathetically small in mAH capacity inbuilt one. Talk about adding salt to the wound.

If they wanted to take away removable batteries, then they should have made up for it by giving us inbuilt ones with capacious mAH capacities. But the S6 came with only 2550 mAH, which is fucking pathetic. The S6 Edge packs a 2600 mAH and that's fucking lame too. The big kick in the balls here is the fact that the S5's removable battery is 2800mAH. Sigh.

Look, I can understand the rationale for an inbuilt battery given all the new glass chassis material and all, but a sexy looking phone becomes a brick quickly if it doesn't have the stamina to last long enough for the daily mile. Wireless-charging and fast-charging are well and good, but wouldn't a battery that could last longer and thus, having to charge it less frequently be more ideally practical instead? Not everyone is a cubicle warrior with chargers within arm's reach any time of the day, and even cubicle warriors will go outdoors away from the wall plugs during their off-work hours and days.

Power banks, you say? I don't know about you, but I hate having to tether my phone via a cable to a charging brick when I'm moving about; It restricts arm movement - forget your phone is tethered via a cable, swing your arm too wide in the wrong place and angle and watch your power bank and/or expensive phone do somersaults in the air. Ka-plunk. Either that or a weakened charging port. Smart folks go for charging cases instead. Smarter folks go for capacious batteries. Cubicle warriors and folks who spend the majority of their lives next to a wall plug can enjoy munching on their popcorn while shrugging off the whole battery soap opera drama here.

Lithium ion batteries deteriorate with charging cycles over time and you are screwed when it does and you can't replace the battery DIY-style easily and cheaply like before with the previous Galaxy phones. The wall-hugging irony is strong with this one, Luke. Now go hug a wall and try not to trip on the cable on your way to said wall.

If I were a mobile phone, I'd hate to be a storage space-deprived and battery-handicapped member of the S6 range now: like a failed experiment. That's right, I've just used the words 'failed experiment' to describe the S6 series unapologetically and unabashedly. I'll morbidly admit to the fact that it made me glad Samsung's mobile earnings for the S6 series sucked hard, which was the wake-up call slap that Samsung needed for having pulled an Apple on the market. Dismal sales is indicative of the fact that the general market doesn't like your product or/and the direction you're going.

If changes bring about handicapped inconveniences that weren't there before, then not all changes are for the betterment of the status quo. Suckers soak up everything thrown at them without resistance and with complying, unquestioning acceptance, even if it makes things worse for them. Well, that's why we call them 'suckers'. And people won't have to go through the misfortune of losing their jobs if their higher-ups don't try to shortchange the market. Blind worshipping fanboys take note.

If you've bought the S6 or the S6 Edge and are experiencing buyer's remorse already because of storage and battery woes, my condolences. But I admit I'm trying to contain my laughter at the same time, though. Cubicle warriors, you can continue to enjoy this fiasco and your popcorn right next to your wall charger. Lucky you. But try not to stay outdoors for too long when you go out with a dimunitive battery, unless you enjoy playing some mobile tie-me-up BDSM with your power bank and its cable and your phone at the receiving end of all that tethered sadomasochism.

Saving Grace: Enter the S7 series

So it's good to see that Samsung finally wised up by putting a decent capacity sized battery in the S7 Edge, albeit a non-removable one. We are looking at 3600mAh here. A decent compensation. My Note 4's 3220 mAH battery gets me just past 6 hours of screen on time on a typical day (unless I happen to game heavily) and I'm using that as a yardstick here, which I think is decent enough.

All in all, I guess I'll be able to accomodate myself with an inbuilt non-removable battery if it comes with at least a 3500 mAH battery to be on the safer and reassuring side; which is a condition that the S7 Edge meets, and which is the reason why I don't care about the normal S7 because it doesn't. That being said, I'd certainly need to get over the best conveniences that removable batteries (which are going the way of the Dodo) provide me if I should make the switch over to an inbuilt one. All that wireless and fast-charging, while good, can't compare to getting back to 100% capacity in just a minute or two.

Inbuilt batteries are actually not that bad if they can last the distance throughout the day and you babysit and time your charging rituals properly before heading out.. until they start to deteriorate in stamina over time, that is. However, if you change your phone every 2 years or earlier, then chances are, you might escape bad battery deterioration before it starts to happen, or just when it has just started happening and you don't have to put up with it for too long before you start going over the edge over it. Seriously, being stuck with a croaking battery is a major pain in the butt.

For the smaller vanilla S7, another reason why I don't care about it is because its 5.2 inches screen is not big enough for my taste when it comes to smartphones. I'm a phablet guy, so my minimum requirement for mobile multimedia enjoyment is a screen display that's at least 5.5 inches. You see, my previous Galaxy Note 2, which was my first 5.5 incher, spoiled me and I absolutely love the 5.7 inches screen of my Note 4. It also helps that the 2K screen display resolution on my Note 4 is still stunning and gorgeous. The eye candy is still very much kicking butt in 2016.

Now that expandable storage is back on the Galaxy phones, which I think will make the S7 series well-received by the market, I can hear my gigabytes worth of on-the-go movies and videos (including the space-hungry self-taken 4K ones), eBooks, photos, APK files collection, my Playstation and PSP games BIOs (long live emulators), music collection, etc, all saying in unison: "Welcome back, SD card. It's finally getting roomy and capacious again." You can have your breathing space again, beloved data.

And Samsung can go suck on the nerfed Galaxy Note 5, which for all intent and purposes as far as I'm concerned, is on the same level as the S6 series in terms of the degree of getting nerfed. Pulling a closed garden Apple stunt on the Note series renders not a Note a true Note. Oops, I forgot for a moment there that this blog post is about the S7 series rather than the Note. #AttackOfOpportunity

On the surface of things, the S7 Edge is looking really really good, very handsome and very promising; and I don't mean just its physical looks but also, its capacious enough battery and the expandable storage making a comeback on it. We shall see how it performs in real life usage once it gets released for sale in the market, shall we? I'm looking forward to the reviews as well as having a first-hand hands-on with it in the store. I think the S7 Edge especially ought to do well in the market.

As it should always be the case, continue to speak with your wallet as a discerning consumer and reward the manufacturer that gives you more, instead of the manufacturer that takes away from you. Manufacturers should pay attention to what their customers demand, not the other way around.

It looks like you and me are back on talking terms again, Uncle Sammy. I'm relieved this time around and can once again, look forward to the next Galaxy Note - given how the S7 series indicate your corrected course in direction for the Galaxy flagships. Gosh, this is like the palpable relief you feel after getting rid of a bad taste in the mouth.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Tim Cook's 'Shot On iPhone' Photo

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, posted on Twitter an awfully shot photo taken on his iPhone that you can see and read about here. Man, what an eyesore in 2016 that makes you question if what you are seeing was actually produced from a cheapo handheld shooter from the early 80's that's about to croak.

Yup, Tim got ridiculed for it in a parallel vein as how certain ridiculous things ought to be ridiculed; things like, say, trying to patent the mobile tech industry's standard norms like 'rectangles with rounded corners' while keeping it under the dirty carpet the plain and simple fact that that's actually a petty attempt at monopoly in order to slow down, or stop competitors altogether who innovate at a faster surpassing rate. It's like: if you are starting to lag behind and are having trouble keeping pace with them, stretch your leg out and trip them over.

For those of you who claim that you love tech, what do you think will happen to the industry as a whole in the long run if Apple succeeds in their petty litigations? The patent war may be contained mostly in a certain specific territory but the victor can experience spurred bloodlust that can come with victory to conquer even more territories - akin to a spreading disease, especially if the victor is unapologetically arrogant, feels entitled and happens to have enough moolah ammo because they also happen to be one of the world's most valuable companies. I think that's something those who care about the mobile tech industry ought to give a thought about.

To be fair though, even a really great mobile camera like the one you find on the Galaxy S6 and Note 5, can generate blurry photos too with the wrong photo-taking technique (like moving your arms and hands around too much under low light conditions when taking shots). But this eyesore from Apple's High Priest CEO, even though he's human too and can sometimes take lousy photos like anybody else, but who has the option not to upload a poorly taken shot on the Internet for the whole world to see and cause everybody's eyes to get tortured?

Perhaps Tim Cook got carried away with adrenaline rushes in the heat of the moment and couldn't keep his hands steady, but those of us who are prudent enough know enough to preview and QC-check our photos first before posting them online, right? This ought to be especially so for the head honcho of a company that keeps boasting about how industry-leading the cameras of their products can perform and even has a dedicated 'Shot On iPhone' photos category on their official website that showcases such.

A Tweeter user responded straight to Tim Cook by suggesting that Tim use a Samsung phone instead to nail down a good photo. Ouch. If I happened to be in the process of drinking something during the moment I was reading that, my phone's screen would end up soaking wet before I realized it. This Tweeter user deserves the 'most in-your-face sound advice that punches hard right in the gut' crowning award. It would be funnier if he or she happens to be a lawyer.

It's just another blurry photo and it doesn't affect me except tickle my funny bone unapologetically, honestly. You see, Apple no longer gets my money ever since they started their litigation spree and the iPhone's camera is no longer at the apex's most sharpest top end spot of the food chain anyway. Shrugs.

"It just works."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The X-Files: The Hunt For The Bogeyman Continues In 2016

The real truth is like a diamond - buried beneath a mountain pile of dirt you have to dig through just to get at it. Sturgeon's Law applies. And since 90% of everything is supposedly crap, it's hard to trust any supposedly full-of-crap person given the circumstances, right?

I love the poster on the left there.

Oh uh, where was I? Yeah, the new season 10 of the new X-Files has rolled out, picking up after season 9 from way back in 2002. Darn, it's been 14 years and Gillian Anderson, the woman playing the sceptic FBI agent Dana Scully, is still looking good (better from most angles, actually, now that she has shed her facial baby fats and that's a compliment).

And whaddya know, it looks like Mulder and Scully are probably into custom ROMs. I'm sure glad they are using Nexus Android phones - when you need serious work done like hunting down ghosts and aliens, you won't go far by using iPhones running restrictive iOS. Not only that, but hunting down the Bogeyman requires a very open mind and creative thinking processes, so using an open source OS is so very conducive for that, as opposed to an OS that tries to unapologetically box you in instead.

Actually, I wouldn't blame them at all if Scully ended up with an iPhone instead, considering that she's playing the role of the sceptic. Ha. So I'm finding it odd that she's rocking with a Nexus 6 while Mulder has an older Nexus 5. Maybe he's waiting for his mobile contract to run out before getting the new Nexus 6P, shrugs. They should do one spooky mini spinoff along the lines of 'What's on my Nexus' so that we can catch a glimpse of what ghosts and aliens-hunting apps our 2 endearing agents are rocking with.

But seriously, be it Android or iOS, it's great seeing Mulder and Scully now using modern mobile tech. Even though the latest iteration of iOS is still rather limiting and it's not enough to make me switch back to using an iPhone as a daily, it has become more fun to use as compared to the past and that's a good thing. Besides, since smartphones have also evolved into multimedia consumption devices and the modern phone is no longer used solely for just making phone calls and messaging, it's nice to see the iPhone 6 Plus with a big enough screen (finally, though Apple needs to catch up with Android's yummylicious higher screen resolutions), nevermind what the late Steve Jobs said about big screens. He might have been right during his time but that no longer applies across the entire industry's board today.

There were a few incidents in the older X-Files series where I thought to myself just how Mulder and Scully's work would have been made easier if they had smartphones and the right apps installed. Yup, I've been watching the older mini series recently to 'get back in the mood'. I certainly hope I won't ever see our 2 agents taking photos of their food to post on their Facebook pages as if anyone will truly care in the new mini series though, or I'll have to look away from the screen in utter disgust. I have faith that they won't do that in the series though, since they've always been occupying their time with much better things to do and mysteries to solve.

It's good to see our 2 favourite FBI agents back on the screen after all these long years to continue living with the bumps in the night and chasing the mysteries.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wrapping Up 2015

Korean food for my Lioness and yummylicious Angelica herb duck from 店小二 for me as we dine at home tonight, bidding year 2015 goodbye as it's coming to a close while year 2016 closes in.

Now that our stomachs are satisfied, we take to the neighbourhood street just in front of our nearest shopping center, where they've cordoned off all vehicle traffic from the long stretch of road for the purpose of celebrating the approaching new year.

Pasar Malam (night bazaar) stalls line almost the entire length of one side of the stretch of cordoned road and it's crowded at the stalls, just like how it's meant to be; It would be worrisome otherwise. We are keeping our eyes peeled for the Malay fried jackfruits that my Lioness loves as we browse the Pasar Malam wares.

Visiting Pasar Malams always bring back memories of my growing up years when they were more common. Mum used to bring me to them then, and now, I visit them with my sweetheart. It would be really nice if the three of us could visit one together some day - me and the two women of my life I am most grateful for, without whom I wouldn't be today. They are my 贵人.

The new year Pasar Malam has an open air section dedicated to screening an ongoing movie in progress for the neighbourhood folks, but what's really catching my eye is the roadside band playing at this bus stop with the singers standing right smack in the middle of the road singing in turns, microphone in hand. This is the first time I'm seeing a drummer using a bus stop bench as his drumming seat. How quaint but how refreshing. I'm actually finding myself smiling at the sight of this makeshift musical innovation.

The sight of the band makes me feel like I've been transported to some alternate reality; you see, I know this part of the neighbourhood really well since I pass by here often and every time I do, there would be no such thing as a band playing at the bus stop and a singer singing in the middle of the busy road where vehicles do their daily and nightly hustle and bustle. So it feels pleasantly weird and out-of-place what we're witnessing in front of us now, which is a far cry from the norm I've never imagined happening.

Such an unexpected kind of a break from the norm is a good thing for me, since it reminds me to always keep an open mind and make room in the realm of my imagination for new things to happen, which can be unanticipated deviations far removed from the conditioned norms of common everyday reality. To earn that, I have to get caught with my reality pants down by this makeshift band for the moment, though. God bless the musicians, my heart goes out to them. I just reminded myself to practice guitar more.

Looking back at year 2015 from the vantage point of its final day

Where do I even begin? It's hard to find a start point from a free-wheeling roller coaster ride, which 2015 has been for me. There have been a great deal of things to really worry about, sometimes almost to the point of helplessness. But there were lots of moments of hope and good things that happened too.

I had to deal with this one thing that I regretted losing, regrettably. But I always turn towards the brighter side after facing my own abyss and studying my areas of pain and losses squarely in their faces - not that I have much of a choice anyway since I've gotta move on somehow. We all have to. I guess 2015 has been a year of self-realisation when life has taught me to hang on to the will and the resilience to reach deep down inside of myself to not only pluck out my courage, but also to realise that when things go out of your life, you are making room for new things to come in.

I cannot make myself pretend that my losses didn't happen, since who would I be kidding if I did that? I owe it to myself when it comes to my own life. It's painful to face your pain and losses, no doubt, but if you acknowledge their reality and learn from them, only then, can you move on much wiser. 2015 has also been a year where I've uttered lots of prayers, which should come as no surprise thus far.

Prayers help. When you pray about your life, you are looking at the minute details of your own life at the same time - you open your own eyes to your own life, so to speak. You cannot present something to God which you choose to be blind to. Perhaps this is what they mean when they say that God helps those who help themselves. Those who have eyes, let them see and all that. Sounds easier than it actually is, though.

Even if you don't believe in God, having the courage to face your losses and pain will do more good in the long run than you just ignoring everything in denial and pretending they didn't happen, or downscaling their actual magnitude just to make yourself feel deceptively better. If you see where the traps and sinkholes in your life are and acknowledge their presences, you will learn and know where and how to avoid them from thereon. Turn a blind eye and chances are, you will blindly fall into them again. It's like History - those who forget their own are doomed to repeat their own mistakes and predicaments.

Pain can be a teacher, just make sure that each pain you experience in your life only has the chance to teach you just once. It's akin to: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Life's a mixed bag, so 2015 has not been all doom and gloom in its entirety, I'm glad to say. I broke my own running distance record during the second last day of the year. Earlier during March, I got my wonderful Galaxy Note 4, which I absolutely love and which has proven to be a trusty daily driver I'm really very happy with till this day. In fact, I consider it to be the best Note Samsung has ever made thus far, which is something I can't say for the detestable (in my opinion) Note 5 (or Nerfed 5, as I prefer to call it) from the standpoint of one who loved what the Note series had always stood for, which the Note 5 has deviated away from.

I can imagine you rolling your eyes at this point and muttering: "It's just a phone, what's he so happy about for?" LoL. Well, for one, I'm a mobile tech geek and practical mobile tech gives me nerdgasms. We are all happy when we come, no? Note that the key word here is 'practical'. That doesn't mean that newer toys like the Note 5 with seriously nerfed features (thus, making it impractical) is gonna make me ascend to cloud 9. The latest is not necessarily the greatest if they take away more than they give and charge you more money for it.

If being a geek equates to being a sucker, then they wouldn't have labelled the two by different terms. I'm a geek but I'm not your bitch, Samsung. Since you're courting after my money from me the consumer, I should make you my bitch instead and no cookies for you this time, Uncle Sammy. Flip the previous sentence around entirely to the opposite end of the scale in reverse-interpretation and you get a blind fanboy's perspective.

Secondly, your mobile phone (that's always on you) runs a huge part of your life if you hadn't realised it by now, so a capable phone that caters to your needs well means you run your life more efficiently and productively. That, my friends, is not to be underestimated or taken lightly for.

Just try living your life without your mobile for a couple of days and let's see how well you can cope. Heck, how easy or hard your work life can be and whether you keep yourself in the current loop of things, what with all the company WhatsApp group chats going on, all depend on your mobile device and your proficiency in mobile tech. I don't think I need to get into the online researches, social and play side of things outside of work, which we all manage huge chunks of with our mobile phones. This is why a good phone is so important in modern times - own a capable phone, know what you're doing and how you should go about doing it, and you manage your life capably. ♪Ta-da♪

Self-realisation. That's one of life's holy grails. I believe that self-realisation comes in a series of parts, since there are so many different aspects of a person's life - like the different parts of a machine that constitute the whole entire machinery.

If life's machinery is functioning well, we'll think nothing much of it since we'll be too busy enjoying our lives. But when a part of our life's machinery breaks down and grinds to a halt, we'll then be forced to take pause, look at the fault and figure out just how we should go about fixing it.

It sometimes takes pain to wake us up so that we can start fixing what's going wrong with our lives for the betterment of ourselves. 2015 has been kinda like that for me. I'm not complaining, since despite it all, I still think that life has been rather gentle with me and whatever issues that have happened, have happened within the limits I could still put up with. People across the globe have had it much much worse than me.

My ultimate conclusion on 2015: It has been a memorable year for me with lots of self-reflection. Heck, sometimes, it even felt magical. Despite the losses, I'm glad I could still manage to smile through it all (and there are such things as painful smiles) and survive to greet another new coming year as the clock ticks 2015 to a close. And there is always a humourous side to things; even if they should be cynical views that make you thumb your nose grudgingly at the situation, they can still be cynically funny still.

And being grateful for all the good things that have happened within the mix, I keep getting reminded that you gotta take the good along with the bad as a whole complete package of life and don't bitch so much. Man up. Afterall, I'm still alive and therein is where my chances lay in and therein, is my chance to better my life. We just gotta be willing to learn from it all. I gotta appreciate that I have the chance for that. Such is life. Such was 2015.

Happy new year, dear gentle reader. Go forth into year 2016 with the heart of a lion.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

To The 15 Christmas Eves Ago Me

Year 2000. Christmas Eve. Some time past 11pm at night.

I've just had my late fried rice dinner all by myself at this small little 煮炒 place situated under this apartment block that I like to frequent. The 煮炒 place may be small, since it's only about the size of 2 typical provision shops but their fried rice is sure as yummy heck big on taste. I may be all by my lonesome self this Christmas eve night but at least I could enjoy a plate of fried rice I really truly liked, nevermind the hour too late for having dinner that's more qualified as supper as the night approaches close to Christmas.

Walking away from the 煮炒 place heading towards home, my surrounding is dark since the rows of shops I am passing by are all closed by now. Apartment blocks here are well-lit but for some reason, this stretch is always dark this late at night. I'm the only soul traversing through this lonely and dark environment while everyone else must be in town partying it up for the Christmas countdown, skin to skin in crowded and noisy environments where too many perspiring and sticky humans are being contained together in celebratory spaces probably too small for entire crowds, like sheeps in a pen. Sounds like fun.

"It's Christmas eve," I begin to think to myself and that's when it hits me all of a sudden; An overwhelming sense of extreme loneliness comes out of nowhere and envelopes my entire being both inside and out.. I think the forceful magnitude in sweeping strength of it just caused me to stagger in my steps there for a moment. I'm getting hit full in the face and gut by an emotional tsunami and I've never felt such a powerful sense of loneliness before in my life. Never ever. I am discovering for myself first-hand how it feels like to be drowned alive by an overwhelming emotional force.

Dear God, this is really painful.

I'm having the urge to cry but I'm force-swallowing the lump in my throat and choking back the tears. My goodness, what is happening to me?

Christmas Eve 2015

Dear self from 15 years ago:

Ever since the 6th of April, year 2000, you started your journey of solitude with its accompanying loneliness, plunging head-first down a seemingly dark spiral of uncertainty that you didn't even voluntarily consent to put yourself through in the first place. This, self, will be the limbo period of your life just before its major turning point 2 years down the road from where you are now. Until then, you will have to deal with your current situation.

Even though what you are going through now isn't hopelessly bad (you are still alive, count your blessings) and you even enjoy the situation as an unexpected twist in the whole plot of things, the most difficult challenge of this time period is the loneliness you will have to occassionaly deal with. You deal with it not just inside your head but at the same time, you have to reach deep into the dark recesses of your psyche to tackle it from within too. If it comes from within, then that's where the wrestling ring actually is.

Your solitude is your double-edged sword; you enjoy it but once in awhile, its associated loneliness with a sharp point can cut you up. It's like smiling through the pain. But solitude and loneliness can't kill you, because you always enjoy the moments with yourself. You like to hear yourself think and you like having thought conversations with yourself. You love your 'lone wolf' moments but you are not invincible and you are still human. No man can remain in his cave forever without ever coming out of it for a breather and some social interaction.

Sometimes, you consciously choose to be away from friends and partyings just to be with yourself and spend personal time on your own hobbies and interests, shutting out the rest of the world and leaving your friends wondering if you've gone to become a hermit for good all of a sudden without so much as a goodbye. Of course, you prove them wrong, albeit momentarily, everytime you decide to emerge from your cave. They've been either only half-wrong or half-right or both, since in essence, you really are a part-time hermit.

Like an elusive Viet Cong choosing when to appear and fight and when to disappear seemingly into thin air suddenly, you mostly call the shots when it comes to when your friends can see you.

You are a case of extremities: you let yourself go and party HARD whenever you let yourself to but you will never allow frivolous partyings and social gatherings to dominate more time over your own personal pursuits and hobbies. So indeed, loneliness can't kill you but it still can hurt you when the solitude lasts for too overly long sometimes. Yes, you are very resilient towards it but you are still human with feelings and the need for companionship when the dust settles.

Extremities can be difficult to understand and comprehend and you are a mystery even to myself, but I will have to accept you unsolved for what you are because I am you. That makes us human, since how many people can truly proclaim with complete unwavering conviction that they truly understand themselves completely inside-out? And that's discounting the fact that all of us can change over time and become a different person - even if not completely, mostly at least in certain aspects. As such, do not think that your situation has taken hold as a permanent and unchanging one, self.

While you are on your journey to discover yourself as you really are, you need to allow room for changes. Be true to yourself but allow yourself to grow.

Are you truly absolutely alone where you are now, past self? You are not and you know it.. well, at least periodically. Mum, your buddies Joe and Jason - these 3 persons are people you better remember to cherish and appreciate without reservation. They are the ones who have been there for you whenever you needed someone. You always see them there everytime you emerge from your shell. It's true that in trying times, one discovers who exactly are one's true friends.

They still stick by you in mind and heart everytime you retreat into your cave. Sometimes, they will come knocking softly on your cave's door to make sure you are doing okay and that's something that always warms you. Everytime you emerge from your cave, you see them waiting for you out there. So no, I know that you know that you are not truly alone even though it can seem that way on the surface. You lucky man.

There is also another calm and quiet presence that has always been there for you whenever you close your eyes to focus your attention on it and when you stare up at the stars during the quiet of the night and reach out to it with your heart as you let the created remind you of their creator. It's God. You get your peace and strength whenever you ask for it, didn't you? Remember to be always grateful, for you are actually blessed. The stars in the night sky will continue to remind you.

That Christmas eve night during year 2000 was the strongest display in intensity of your loneliness. It got to the point of being mind-blowing when something you always thought you enjoyed suddenly turns around and punches you hard in the guts, wasn't it? You staggered in your steps because you didn't expect your loneliness to suddenly transform its face into a sinister monstrosity you didn't know it had on its other side.

Has it occurred to you that perhaps, loneliness itself has gotten enough of you at that point in time and needed its own respite away from you, so it had to tear you apart from the inside that night? Yes, it did hurt. A lot. So much so that I can still remember just how intense it was on Christmas eve night 15 long years later.

From where you are now 15 years ago this night, you don't know that I will turn around to look far back into the distant past at you, do you? You are not aware about this but I've got news for you, past self. If you could just hang on, you will be glad you did. I know because I am you from your future looking back at you at your moment in time.

1 year and 4 months later from that Christmas eve night at your point in time, you will come to be acquainted with your Lioness for the first time on the 6th of April, year 2002. That's right, on the exact date of the second anniversary of your drastic journey of solitude and loneliness, all thanks to mIRC Chat and you being attracted to the user ID 'Venus' while you sit in front of your computer in your peaceful quiet room of solitude. Your finger operating your computer mouse will not be able to resist and you will click on that name 'Venus'.

That, self, will be the moment in time when your entire life up to that point starts to go through a major metamorphosis, like the proverbial scorpion soaring out of its own ashes as a transformed phoenix. If that metamorphosis could be measured on the Richter Scale, it would be a major mega earthquake. How your world is gonna get rocked. HARD.

Ends up, with the passage of time from thereon, your Lioness will devote herself to you and love you. You will thank God for just how blessed you are, convinced that you are the luckiest man on earth for having her. Heck, you will even question God just what it was that you did to deserve her. She will be the best thing that happens to you and from that point on, you will have to put in some effort just trying to remember how loneliness used to feel like.

Your Lioness will be the one who ultimately defeats your loneliness and the one and only place it can retreat to where it can never get out from is in your memories of it. What used to be loneliness will then be taken over by personal space which your Lioness will know when to give you. She understands that you need your own time for your own hobbies and personal pursuits; things that are no different from breathing that keeps you alive and functioning.

Even though you can have your own personal space when you need it, you will also come to realize that if you should ever lose her, you will end up a very broken man. Even though she will be the reason why you need to expend some effort in trying to recall how loneliness used to feel like, you will never forget what happened to you on Christmas eve night during year 2000.

If you tell yourself to hang on now and make it further to year 2007, you are gonna start having the time of your life - you will have the job of your dreams, you will have the money and you will fly to places you never dreamed you would have the chance to visit. How well-travelled you will be indeed and you will absolutely love every moment of it. Hokkaido and Taipei especially will become your favourite places on earth out of all the places you will travel to. You will once again tell yourself just how truly blessed and lucky you are.

And here's something else that will make you jump for joy too.. Ready? In year 2009, you will manage to hunt down, buy and own the padauk Washburn N4, the electric guitar you've been pining for since 1993. Orgasmic, yeah? I know, you find that almost impossible to happen at where you are now in your moment in time but it will happen. You will have the good things that life has to offer.

But life is like a lift that goes up and down and it sometimes can malfunction and become stuck. Your dream job life will last for 6 years before everything starts to slowly fall apart in year 2013. You will then have to brave a few storms as well as a rather shitty job and while you ride it out and fight to keep your feet firmly on the ground, guess who will continue to stick by you and cheer you on?

This time, your companion is sure as heck not loneliness, which is already as good as long dead and you are better equipped for the fight because your situation is leaps and bounds better than your situation during year 2000. Heck, you had close to nothing back then and it was really a miracle that you made it out.

I can't tell you more beyond this point because I am writing this to you at this point in time during Christmas eve night in year 2015 and I can't glimpse into the future. But just you wait for the lift of life to start moving up again. When life falls down flat on its face, it will eventually have to get up again if you don't give up before it repeats the whole cycle. That's just how life is. You will give up for good if you forget that it's not a one direction trip. So take heart and be brave as a lion, not just for yourself but for her too.

At the same time, and just as importantly, keep your eyes on the stars during the quiet of the night and let them remind you of what they've been reminding you all along. God helps those who help themselves.

So past self from 15 Christmas eves ago, that sense of overwhelming loneliness you are now feeling as you are walking home in the quiet and dark night sure feels like being in the pits, huh? Well, don't you allow it to swallow you up whole, because you will end up surviving it all in the end.

Trust me on this, at least until Christmas eve of 2015. Beyond that, I will have to wait for my future self to look back on us to tell us about our life ahead from this point on. I know that you know that I know - That's because I was you and you will become me. We are me.