The Biggest Disappointments

are usually when you let someone else down.

It’s those that you care for, and try your best to love. Those are the people that you feel the worst when you disappoint. The people who you had hoped to make them happy, and bless them with everything you might have. It really sucks to have things mess up.

I feel like blaming the world, for all the things wrong. But at a time like this, it really is my fault.

All this, because of a keyboard that I just couldn’t fix up properly. It’s so tough. I wish there were better ways around it. It’s something that I thought I had enough practice in. But I just didn’t. And life just really kicked me in the nuts.

And now I have a keyboard that’s fried, and I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t think I can fix it. But man. It’s just letting people down that really sucks so bad.

I really hope I can do something to make up to my friend. But I am just diving so deep into this self pity and guilt. I need to jump out of it, and do something to make it right. I can’t live in this frustration.

I need to do something, to make it not a disappointment.

I need to make a bad keyboard good.

I need to think…

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Why I Can’t Buy More

There’s a real problem I’m facing. I want to buy things. Lots of things. We could call it being a shopaholic, but my purchases are quite specific and limited. And at the same time, I’m not chasing after sales.

I’m chasing after things that can’t be bought again.

Or worse than that, things that will cost a lot more if I were going to buy it later.

For people like me, there is no buyer’s regret. There’s the non-buying regret. “I wish I just starved more that week! I would have been able to afford it then.” No matter what personal cost it might have brought to me at that time, I would still think it would be better than not having the item.

That pushes even further to the crazy ideas of materialism that are far more pervasive into our culture. My Big Questions for all my friends who earn a lot of money is: What are you going to do with it when you die? What’s the real point of having money, when it’s only a tool for purchasing?

So I take my own advice and purchase as much as my heart desires, which is a lot.

But I can’t purchase anymore. I just can’t. It’s not that I don’t want to. I have too many things to consider before purchasing. Sure, my bank account slowly depleting might be one reason, but that has never stopped my purchasing before. OK, maybe you’d want to say Credit Card Debt, but that’s not a reason for me to stop either. The financial ability to purchase is never the reason to stop – or at least that’s what the credit card companies tell me, and I would wholeheartedly believe them. If you disagree with this principle, then perhaps you should question why banks even have credit cards in the first place, and why that system exists. Personally, I don’t question it, I enjoy it.

But coming back to the main point: I can’t buy things anymore because I have way too many considerations. Does this color match with this existing thing that I already have? My table colors might not match this keyboard / pen / deskmat / monitor / mug, the list goes on. I don’t know if I really like the sound or feel of something.

I can’t buy anymore things cause I have too many things already, that compete with things that I want to buy.

So I guess I gotta start throwing away.

Maybe?

Perhaps?

We’ll see how?

Or I could buy just one more…

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Interesting Interests

“Hi, I am Joel, and I work as …”

I think there’s a lot of ways to introduce ourselves, and one early trick I learnt from my wife was not to ask someone what we do, what our occupation is. So I started the crazy journey of talking with people without asking what their jobs are.

We are so often tied to what we do. I assume many times that when I ask someone what they do, I’ll have a really good answer found some time after that. It’s really not true though. I have some friends who are food lab technicians, but I met them at a J-Pop concert, where the occupation was the last thing on our minds. All we talked about was how awesome the performance was.

On the other hand, I have some friends who I’ve only known for their day jobs as a doctor, or as a lawyer. And they might have a really sick sneaker collection.

But neither the interests, nor the occupation makes them that person. They are who they are, because of a lot of other reasons too. and that’s really something that we need to remember about the people around us.

It’s not their interests, its not their occupations, and honestly, it’s also not their opinions that make us friends with them. We just like people who we like, no matter how crazy they are.

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Clout Chasing

I don’t think I’ve ever considered myself someone that chases clout. This idea of a person that is driven to make a name for himself or herself, by a show of power, or by some heavy handed way. This idea of influence by means of material ownership, or to flex in what they have, and pretending to be someone they’re not.

But maybe that’s what life seems to be like the more invested I am in the hobbies I have. I seem to have hobbies that focus on very material things. But I don’t think I’m doing it specifically for anyone’s attention other than my own vested interest in the range of things. I think actually that I am quite happy to just dive into my own world of items and just hoping that no one else will have what I have.

But sadly, that’s not the case. Instead, unintentionally, I am chasing the clout. I want to get that hard-to-get keyboard, I like that my sneakers can’t be simply bought locally, I like the range of items that I have procured, and I hope to hang on to this for as long as I can.

And that might just be for another day. All things considered in this world. Is it worth it? Who knows? Probably not. Probably wasn’t worth it in the first place. The Lord knows I can’t take this with me when I die.

So just for tonight, just for now, but I know, it’s all going to pass away one day, whether I like it or not. Like all other clout chasers in history.

The Daily Grind

Everyday, just waking up, being alive, and being a human being that breathes.

Unlike human beings that don’t of course.

Everyday, the work load to clear, or to think through, or just to be responsible about so that the people around me can live life too.

I live life too of course, just that I think I can balance it pretty well.

Everyday, needing some coffee, some caffeine, some sugars, some carbs.

Balanced meals are for balanced people, that we are of course.

Everyday, steps ahead, one at a time, until finally we are home.

To restart everything once more for the next. And one day, it’ll all be done. No more new days, just a perpetual one. No more time, because time exists only for the human being who does. No more frustrations, no more responsibilities, no more hunger, no more pain, no more grinding, no more droning on and on about egos and people and everything else that humanity carries in its baggage of existence.

Just being, and in my case, with God.

The daily grind, to a halt, with God.

Thirty-Two Year Old Soldier

In Singapore, we have to serve National Service. That’s for about two years, my own time of service was about a year and ten months. It’s part of Singapore’s conscription, because of our really small population. All boys at the age of eighteen are required to serve our National Service to our country, and after that, continue to be operationally ready for the next ten years. That time means that as we start our graduate studies, or enter the workforce, we’re practicing the things that we have learnt in those two years.

We practice shooting, also known as marksmanship. We also practice attacking and defending, as an army. These things are widely known, so I don’t think I’m saying anything I’m not supposed to be saying. Our operationally ready force would assist our regular army force in times of war, and that makes up Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

Every year, my army mates and me are literally drained. We are worn out from the military work that we need to do. We need to be fit, in both our mental and physical capabilities. This period of time is also known as a Reservist period. We are re-servicing ourselves as military men, and ensuring that we’re on tip top form.

It sounds possible, but honestly, hitting thirty-two this year, I’m feeling it more. Not so much during the actual time that I’m in camp, but the time getting back out to normal everyday life. Every day life is slower, there are less immediate stressors, and you know that technically you could quit at any time. But in the army, there’s no quitting. There’s only doing, and completing the tasks at the time that they’re needed to be done by. It’s a non negotiable. The worst part is that it feels completely irrelevant. It’s in its own bubble and completely not a part of the normalcy that we think of in “living life everyday”. “Seize the day” as a phrase isn’t commonly associated with grabbing your helmet and gear, jumping into a truck, and fighting an imaginary enemy in the jungle. But that’s what we need to do.

If you suck at being in the military, all you have to do is to imagine a war taking place, and not being able to stop any aggressive enemy. All Singaporean men, whether they like it or not, can do this. There is a certainty of this. But whether they can do this well is a completely different issue. And whether this will even be something tested is even harder to assume. What are the chances that it will be? And by the time we are actually at war, who will be alive to gauge the metrics of success for this conscription army plan? There are too many things at stake for us to not take it seriously enough.

But like all things that are for our own good, but too far into an unknown future, most Singaporean men can’t imagine this happening. We don’t always appreciate the rigor of this annual military exercise. We enjoy our friends, and we enjoy getting out of work, but there’s always a much deeper reality behind it.

Maybe it’s about learning what we want to care for and the lengths that we would go to protect it. If we have learnt how to manage finances and investments for our children, perhaps the physical land protection of Singapore is something that we truly ought to consider a lot more. That’s something of value, that money can’t buy. If we lose the country, we’ve lost it all. And I feel that pressure every time I go back to camp, that’s why my time every year is always going to be more stressful than going to work every day.

I know I’m more of the minority of this view, but I still think it’s something to be said. It’s not a matter of being gregarious, or garang as we would call it, but to me, its a responsibility of protecting the future. A very necessary burden to carry as a male in Singapore.

In all my examples, I mention Singaporean males, but females do enlist as well. However their enlistment is voluntary, whereas the men are required to by law.

What is control?

This is something I personally need to discuss. Control is something that I find really hard to define, and really hard to express.

Is it the idea that I can do something? Wouldn’t that be competence? What about the idea of making someone do something that I want them to do? That would sound more like ordering or dictating. What if I nudged them to do it slowly? I guess that would be influence instead.

But control sounds like all that. Control, as a verb, is defined as “to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command”, “to hold in check; curb”, “to test or verify (a scientific experiment) by a parallel experiment or other standard of comparison.”, and “to eliminate or prevent the flourishing or spread of”. The first definition is the closest to what I’m thinking of.

To Dominate. Command.

That’s not something we can do easily. I don’t even think we can do that at all sometimes. We can force it for sure, but we can’t control many things. Often we say that we can’t control the weather, because it’s nature. If the wind blows, we can try to control it, but how do you control wind? We divert wind, making it turn turbines. We use wind to cool us down, because we realise when the wind blows, our heat moves away from us. But then if the wind blows too strong, whatever we have might blow away. The same goes for water, the same goes for the sun, for the natural world around us. We can’t control nature.

Then why do we think we can control other human beings? Are we not also natural? Why do we think that our thoughts and emotions should be forced onto someone else? To Dominate; Command. How could we command another human being? Are we not smarter than the wind? How does the wind carry intelligence that we do not have? And yet, we can’t control it. Is it the lack of intelligence that gives control? Perhaps control and intelligence are contradictory.

What are the control points for humans that we try to so hard to keep to? Societal norms: you need to be like this and that in order for us to accept you in as part of society. And we conform, falling to the influence of our forebears, of whom have held up traditions from generations before. Unaware, we are controlled, we are dominated, commanded. We listen, we follow. But we are natural, and we flow. Perhaps in itself, intelligence is control. Because we understand, and we are diverted, like the wind.

To Dominate; Command.

But there are many times, when I want to control myself. I am the raging wind, I am the wild dog, untamed. I want to be in control because I do see the societal norms and traditions, and I want to be a part of the normalcy. My mind is quite clear on some of its expectations, but somehow my natural body does not seem to follow suit.

My body goes against me, my emotions are not in control. I get flustered, I get upset, but these are things that I do not wish for. I am not dominated by myself, I am not in command. Instead, my emotions win over. I am dominated by my natural state, and I am overgrown internally.

There are scenes of huge winds, crashing waves, and the turmoils of natural disasters. These happen inside me, with my emotions. I feel like a volcano, bubbling deep inside, seething. I feel angry. There are times that I feel like there has been a grey day of rain within my heart. The sadness of loss pouring a downpour, washing away all sense of hope. All constructs of control that were set up, just slipping down the hill like a landslide.

Nature takes over my control, and I lose control to nature. I am dominated, and I am commanded by my emotions. But somehow, somewhere, there needs to be an assistance from somewhere else. I find that is the point where I find my place in religion, specifically in God.

I let Him control me; I let God dominate, command.

But that’s really easier as in idea than in the practical. Next week for part two I guess.

The Non Minimalistic Life

There’s always this big whoop over minimalism as a lifestyle. I mean from this blog you’d think that I’d be totally into it too. The whole clean look, simple lines, nothing crazy or bright. Maybe a lot of white, a lot of Muji, whole lot of wood on the floors, the tables, the walls. Then that simple one cup. or one pen. or one book. That’s the minimalism that we really love to glamorise.

Then the minimalist person is someone who wears a black T-shirt, denim, and white sneakers. They’re all really cleanly washed and looking really fresh. That’s the Minimalist, right?

And maybe I might be that? I wear black T-shirts and jeans; I wear white shoes; my home has Muji furnishings, and wood; I have that one cup, or pen, or book. I guess the issue would be that I have a lot of these single items, and when I say a lot, I really do mean a lot. I have Muji things, here and there. I have a few pens that I really like. I have a favourite writing book, and I have a few of them. And I wear black T-shirts too, for sure.

And that’s where my version of minimalism falls apart. I really have one or two types of items that I really like, and they’re multiplied. They cover everything that I like, and they’re exactly what I want it. I really enjoy having a huge amount of black T-shirts, because they’re all the type of T-shirt that I really want. That works really well for me. I also stopped buying a huge range of magazines, instead I have one particular magazine that I buy. I have been buying it for years, so I have the past few years worth of this magazine. It’s not minimalism, but it’s the kind of minimalism that I find myself into.

I would like to classify myself as a non-minimalist. I’m by no means a maximalist, which goes into that mass extreme of many types of many things. I think my definition of myself in the way that I collect and consider things should still contain that idea that it is minimal, meaning a lot less, but I’m not at the same time, because I have many of that one option.

If you asked me what kind of T-shirts I have, I would have to tell you that I am limited by black, and white. In recent years, I have been adding to that, because of different T-shirt offerings that I find very interesting. The other colored shirts I have were T-shirts from childhood, that I either have a strong emotional attachment to, and still “sparks joy”, or they are t-shirts that I need to have, because of work. But I do not simply join a trend and buy the hype of a Supreme or BAPE T-shirt. It’s not where I’m at. I’m a minimalist in my approach of colors that I’m choosing.

So I hope this helps you to get out of the possible shame you might be facing in having a bunch of things. I know I felt really bad having many things, and that I should get rid of it. But after much thought, and personal reflection, I know I have nothing to be ashamed about. Instead, I can be really happy of all the black t-shirts that I have. Because they’re really the best things to wear.

For the sake of it

I used to write on my old blog years ago because I love the sound of the typing I made on the laptop. It sounds stupid then, but wow, what an opposite end of that I have now reached. I’m literally typing now just for the sound of what I’m feeling.

I’m doing this for the sound of it, I’m doing it for the feels. I’m hammering away, and thinking of what I could possibly type about, just for me to type away on a keyboard. I’m typing with Marshmallow switches by the way, which have this really interesting typing feeling. There are a few videos going through it, but I had to wait some time before getting these switches.

Just the sound of typing, and that process of thinking, and translating them immediately into words on screen. That’s really relaxing. At the same time, I also have my own preferences in how I do this for writing by hand. And I do have my different pens, inks, and papers. I do this for everything I have. I have specific jeans that I wear for certain days, I have coffees that I drink for a certain bolt of inspiration, I have a specific black T-Shirt that I wear just for days when I feel like I’m literally grinding at work (Uniqlo U Black Round Neck short sleeve T-Shirt).

The way life is lived matters a lot to me, I guess. There’s no such thing as just doing something “for the sake of it”, or if there is, then the obligation behind that is something that I treasure a lot. I don’t think we should live lives that are done “for the sake of it”, because in a large way, our parents didn’t have us for the sake of just having another human being born into the world. Even if they would say it that way, I would imagine there’s a much larger reason than that. I also think that our ideas of society enforce specific reasoning why we think and act in a certain way, so nothing is really done just because.

All these thoughts spawning out of me typing because I enjoy the feeling of typing; what a win. I’ve been thinking about typing for awhile. Not because I have anything specific that I want to say. But because I miss enjoying the feeling of just doing that something. It’s an enjoyment in that process of doing it. It’s never done for the sake of it, it’s done purposefully. It’s chosen. It’s needed. It’s what I want to do. It’s what makes me happy.

I hope you’ve done something that makes you happy today, even if it’s just wearing your socks on the right leg first, then the left. That’s not just putting on socks for the sake of it, it’s your subconscious decision to choose your right leg over your left, and that makes you happy. Try it the other way round. You really might not be that happy, but you might appreciate the way you do it regularly after that.

Keyboard Thoughts: Why Type?

I think that there’s a lot to say about this. But maybe I’ll put it forward in a way that I think makes sense to me.

I’ve been on this whole keyboard tirade for the past few months. It’s slowing down now purely because I’m really maxing out my budget. I also only have one pair of hands, and that limits how much typing I can do in a day. This doesn’t mean that I’m not interested, but I’m just really slowing down to appreciate it a lot more.

So why type? What’s the deal with typing and this whole approach to it that I would pour in so much cash, and time, and effort, just to make letters appear on screen? Is there a point to it, other than just plain aesthetics?

For starters, being trained in design, I do not necessarily agree with the design choices that are presented by the majority of keyboard creators. Many use really standardized typefaces, and they sit blandly on the keycaps. Some do experiment, and they make you smile when you see the type face. One of these is Biip, and his keycap designs are always striking. They hold character.

Also that RGB, yes yes no? Or maybe no no yes? That bright bar of rainbow colored light just shooting into my eyes. I must admit it has definitely grown on me, rather than me abstaining from it. I used to turn it off immediately when the underglow would start. The stark brightness that just doesn’t make sense. What’s the design problem that they were trying to solve? That dark tables needed lighting? The Apple keyboards had shine through and that works for us great, I think? But there it is, just sitting there, glowing now on the very keyboard I am typing on.

So what’s the point? Hitting the keys on this chunky bulk, instead of the wireless light taps that we make on the modern keyboard attached to our laptops, or the bluetooth keyboards that are stuck magnetically to our tablet screens. What is the draw?

I would say preference is the draw. Preference is this word referring to the hot mess of “I’ll do me, you’ll do you”. Preference dictates that gaudy colors shooting out as you type is okay, because that’s what you like. That’s you doing you. Preference means that I don’t have to stick with the shine-through of the Apple Keyboards. Preference is what makes it work.

Preference pops up quite often in our lives. We have preferences in the way phones that we use. We have preferences in the colors and looks of the clothing that we put on. Preferences also lie between the choices of what kind of utensils, even though fine dining has its set rules. Preferences mean that for some of my meals, I would just like to have a cheese burger please. It means that for others, they would have a salad instead. This means to say that, in the way I am choosing to type, I am choosing to type based on the preference I have at the moment.

This choice is arbitrary. I would like to say it is not logical. There is no logic to why someone would choose one keyboard preference over another, the same way why we have no “logic” to what clothes we choose to wear. We might have programmed a routine, but to assign a general color to the public sounds completely ridiculous. I am choosing to type with a NovelKey Cream switch, because I can, and I choose to. I like the sound it makes today. I might not feel this way tomorrow, but we can work it out then. I like the options that I can have with mechanical keyboards, and the world just feels better a little bit.

Just like the expensive running shoes that I had bought to get me started on running, I feel the need to type a lot more when I have a nice keyboard beneath my fingertips. I feel the need to also be accurate, and to type really fast so that the noise of the clacks just ring into my ears. It just snaps so well.

I have other sounds to liken it to, like the sound of skateboarding on tiled floors. The sound of rain when it hits a piece of cloth. The sound of coffee beans grinding in a hand grinder. The sound of a hi hat in a drum beat. The sound of rhythm, the sound of a beat. But this beat just taps its way around and on your fingers. There’s no need for fidgeting; you’re already letting your fingers dance on an exciting dance floor.

Because of all that, my happy fingers would like to tell you, that this is why I type, and why I type on a mechanical keyboard.