Friday, June 14, 2013

Foreign Talent is Cheaper then Local Children (TRS article)

Every now and again, the nanny state turns it attention to the breeding habits of its locals and the birth rate conversation comes up to much debate. Among Singaporeans, it's difficult to discuss policies related to child bearing without considering whether or not children are a financial investment. The line, "Because I will need someone to take care of me in my old age" is so ingrained in the Singaporean psyche its unavoidable.

Photograph from China Daily

I started a blog about why I don't think children are a good financial investment - if you're so concerned about being taken care in your old age, you best forgo kids and invest all that money you'd otherwise spend on them in something with more certain returns.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Whiskey Collection


Seriously. I'm a respectable human being now. A good whiskey collection is one of those thing's I've always wanted to have. I'm not a materialistic sort of girl. I only spend my money on three things - travelling, books and food. I used to not need food, but since discovering the craft of cooking (which comes when you don't live in Singapore) I now really like food. In case you're wondering, no, I haven't got fat. In fact, I'm probably fitter than I ever was before.

Many alcoholic beverages come shrouded in mystery. Both making and tasting them is an art. Prices are prohibitive as a large class of them are a status symbol. Everyone has a drink of choice depending on their aspirations, and whiskey is mine. Firstly because I've never gotten a hangover from too much of it. Secondly... because it's a sexy, arty, man drink. It's also assumed to be Ernest Hemmingway's drink of choice, isnt it?

A good glass of malt used to be a really special treat I never could really afford for myself before. Well. Now I can. Makes me feel all grown up like ;-)

An Abortion

Earlier this year, actually on New Year's Eve 2011, I had an abortion. It was fairly traumatic -well, about as traumatic as getting my wisdom teeth pulled out. Unlike wisdom teeth however, I know I can have another baby. OKAY, I know, I should be utterly devastated, it should have been a horrible time for Dani and me, I should have gone through days of deliberation, etc.

Here's the truth: It's only horrible if you allow it to be by over thinking it. Most of life is five thousand shades of grey, but an abortion isn't one of them. Either you're having the baby or you're not. And after I weighed out the options - Travelling, time to make art vs. taking care of a little shithead - I decided (in 5 minutes) that I wanted an abortion.

It happened around New Years, I had to get it done in Singapore (because the wait list in Holland was about 2 weeks long), I emailed the doctor over the internet, and the morning after I landed, the whole affair was done and dusted with.

I was shit scared on the operating chair. But then again, who isn't shit scared when you know someone is going to stick something up one of your holes and do something with your body. Like I said, about as traumatic as pulling teeth. If I weighed it out, getter my teeth pulled and the abortion both come up to the same amount of stress. The teeth pulling was traumatic during the operation (1 hour) and the week after (1 week) whereas the abortion was traumatic before the operation (3 days) and during (20 minutes).

Everyone takes it differently. I've got an extremely positive mind thanks to good genes and copious amount of exercise. Also, I have a great, loving, supportive boyfriend who agreed with the decision (although, I think, not without some nightmares). It would have been different without that support, I'm sure. Also helped that I could pay for the damn thing. I can imagine $1500 is a lot of money for a pregnant teenager. Jesus. For that amount I could have done the liposuction I always wanted.

The whole issue of abortion is so rife with politics with everyone defending their stand. There's nothing to defend. It's an individual choice. Either the foetus lives or dies. Make the decision and go with it. No point thinking too much about it. Especially not the what ifs. Sometimes I think it was a selfish choice - but life is cruel first before it is kind. I wouldn't have been the mother I'd wanted to be...

NAH. What horseshit. The truth is, it was a selfish choice. I'm not living under the poverty line, I have a supportive partner, we would have been able to have made a good home for it. We were just not ready. Also, I question the relative benefits of children and the necessity to add to the human race.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I Really Wish I Could Do That

Star Wars. Eternally cheesy, persistently inspiring. Late last year, just before Christmas, I picked up my old "The Art of Star Wars" book. This was after I'd been working at the current 9-5 for a couple of months, the financial pressure that had been on my back since graduation assuaged and relationships at work stabilized. It was the first time in a long time I had to really think about what I wanted to do with my life.

University pretty much passed me by in a haze of artistic wankery. The question of how I was even going to get a job with the skills I'd learned never really came up. I had always managed, somehow. I didn't like most of the time I spent in college. I knew I was learning nothing, and I started fantasising about doing something else. Like architecture or economics. Subjects with even more wank around them, with pretensions to science, and with the possibility of a great job - once you managed to find one (apparently a degree in architecture is among the top tep of useless degrees in this economic climate).

I'd lost track of what I wanted to do, and what I wanted to get ,out of my life. It was easy too, pre-2008. Architecture and economics/business were also very attractive then. It's only on retrospect that I see how I'd been subtly influenced and manipulated by the climate of the times.

So I'd picked up this Star Wars book, took it to bed, and started flipping through all the gorgeous pictures. The one thought in my head was "I really wish I could do that". I spent the night wondering how and why every drawing looked so good. I could draw well from life. I could draw anything. Figures, architecture, moving animals. But whenever I sat down with a blank piece of paper and tried to look into my head to come up with a world, there was nothing. It was like my imagination had been killed by all that academic wank I'd purposefully surrounded myself with. (That, and other things that I was sure were literally killing off my brain cells.)

I can only remember explicitly thinking to myself  "I wish I could do that" twice in my life. Looking at the pictures in the Star Wars book and after reading Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. There must have been other times, but those are the ones I remember.

The thing about novel writing is that it's a hidden skill. Due to high literacy rates in most countries, most people can write well, only very few can draw or play music well. But to write a novel, a genius novel, that's just something that can't be learned. Nobody can teach you how to write a novel. But with a lot of practice, you can learn how to illustrate the universe of Star Wars. Or the Game of Thrones. Or whatever.

Illustration is technique first with creativity applied later. Writing genius novels is... a whole different ball game. I decided it would be easier for me (and more fun) to do the former.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Right annual-ish update. Been thinking of doing one for some time now. It pops into my head every now and then while I'm working out.

I'll be turning 26 soon. 26, dear lord, that figure looks awfully large. I still feel like I'm 20. I don't think like I'm 20 though. If I were to go back and give my 20-something self advice it would be this:

1. It doesn't matter what you want to do in the future, or what you will do. Go learn a proper, technical skill and do something to prove you've learned it. It can be anything. Writing, programming, drawing, carpentry, being proficient in multiple languages; anything that you like doing, that's quantifiable, and that will give you a sense of purpose while you're partying, fucking and wasting time and money getting a useless university degree. Most university degrees are useless to most people because if you like what you're studying, it'll probably be useless and if it's useful, you'll probably not like it.

2. Self-awareness and discipline are very important for success. Discipline to stick to the road you've decided to go down on, and self-awareness to know when to change course.

3. Live with interesting people that share your interest and are not lazy bums. You'll be inspired all the time, and they will motivate you to succeed.

4. Do some activity as a hobby regularly. Play the piano, go running, cook... it'll make you feel good and it'll teach you something.

5) Don't party when you have to work/study. Unless you're absolutely certain it's going to be epic. Like with people in your field of interest all having a big love in. That way you're also networking.

 ... And yeah, the only thing I regret from that period of my life is the wasted time spent doing shit I didn't want to do.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Annual Update.

I got an email today from someone that said he'd read my blog from start to finish and encouraged me to update a little. So here goes:


Dani and I are still together and well. From my point of view, the relationship got better with time, which is a good thing in my book. There are still plenty of cultural differences (his extroverted southern European/ Mediterranean background vs my introverted Chinese one). But I it works.  The in-laws are great as well, despite be not being able to speak with them very well. This is usually overcome by spending all my time with them eating, which is not unlike time with my parents, whom I can speak with, but prefer not talk a lot, if at all.

I got a great job at an international organisation, which is fortunate for a fresh art/media grad., in this economic climate. Plus working for an NGO has always been something I've been interested in. There's a lot of fascinating stuff to be done, it's a pity that large organisations are so bureaucratic, so it takes a lot to get to the work at the core.

My love for SFF has only gotten worse since coming here. Dani loves SFF too, so there's a lot of that around. Also, playing computer games has replaced clubbing, which isn't fun anymore once you're not on the prowl.

Still a gym nut, although that has been tempered with my new found abilities to cook. We're going to re-do the kitchen so we can start practicing some modernist cooking!

Went to Croatia with Phil and my sister. One of the best holidays. I'd say it's the loveliest place on the Mediterranean. Maybe that, and the South of France. Some of the best preserved Roman structures are there, and you can even book holiday apartments in these structures (which we did). Can't beat that.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fantasy, Good Reads and Geekry.

It started when Dani got me to play Dragon Age, and it got worse after Michael re-promoted his book on Facebook. Don't under estimate FB promotion when it comes to selling e-books. I'd always wanted to read Mike's book, only Phil kept on mentioning it after several bottles of wine, so I never got 'round to it. With a Kindle link on FB, immediately purcahsed it.

I thought it was very good, and when he posted about re-releasing his collecion of short stories "All the World A Grave" and asked for comments on the cover, I offered to do it for him. The result on the left.

Through Amazon's fail safe recommendation system, I discovered the Riyria revelations. I haven't read much of anything for a long time now. Apart from manuals on Wordpress, because that's what I do now. The Riyria revelations is probably the best fantasy-adventure series I've read. The story unfolds like a really good chess game. The pieces of the puzzle all fit. To top it up, that characters really stick with you. The sort I go to bed thinking about and scouring GoodReads to find another series just like it. 

I suggested to Mike that we could make a graphic novel together. Although the more I think about it, the less I feel confident enough to be able to make something in any reasonable amount of time. Even if it were black and white, it will still take awhile. Plus, it would be more fun to try something a little different. Like an illuminated manuscript perhaps, or annotated scenes. I think annotated scenes could be interesting.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Games, Fantasy, and everything else.

So every once in awhile I feel this great desire to blog. Like now. I've been spending quite a lot of time doing nerdy things, which is something I've always loved. Nothing like holing up with an awesome fantasy novel or playing RPGs late into the night. I used to do quite a bit of that as a kid, always loved SF. Then I turned 17, and I decided to be all grown up and only read serious books (or trashy ones written by friends) and I forgot all of it. Writing fiction became almost impossible. When I sieved through my old compositions (you know, the stuff they make you write in Secondary school) last Christmas, I remembered thinking, 'gee... I wonder where I got all those crazy ideas from'. They were good too.

Then, at some point, I 'grew up' and started wondering what the point of all this fiction was. They were set in other non-existant universes, they had no bearings on reality, they didn't aspire to be um... politically or socially critical. I stopped reading or watching anything that I felt wasn't educational in anyway. Studying animation didnt' make it better. Imagining things, and creating art became work. And so I forgot how fun these things could be.

Then somehow, Dani persuaded me to play this game called Dragon Age:Origins. I was totally against it at first. What a waste of time! But I think about SF differently again. It isn't a waste of time. It sparks something in me; almost forces me to want to imagine other worlds. And I've started writing fun things. Not like that stupid memoir I never wrote (which I supposed would have sold resonably well back during Belle DeJour days).

ThagothA friend of mine (the DM when I was playing D&D in Singers) started reviving his book, Thagoth. Phil had told me many times before that it was brilliant, and I'd always wanted to read it, but I don't have a kindle, so I never got around to it, until now. I guess part of the reason why I read it was because I wanted to stay in touch with a friend. I was really surprised at how good it was. But then again, he'd always make up really interesting narratives when we played D&D. They were always very... human.

Anyway, I'm rambling. I'll try to post more often. I keep saying that. Life is good. Dani and I do surprisingly well, admist all the failed relationships we see around us. We really take time to make the relationship work. Especially him.