101 | Full Plates

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We’re drawing to the close of May, and I just concluded one of the most.. deranged weeks ever. Sometimes I don’t understand why I choose to pack myself like that (although I’d argue that most of these seemingly unimportant tasks are oft the most important) and end up burning myself.

Monday was supposedly my first and last day at work for the week, and after a futile attempt to hack away at a week’s pile of work I headed to the 50 Schools, 50 SMEs event. I don’t exaggerate when I say that I love such events. There is a very real need for youth to learn about all things Singaporean – our music scene, our literature scene, our startup scene – and be proud of them. Also, my favourite minister was at the event! Missed a photo opportunity, but still.

Tuesday to Thursday was spent madly clearing projects – couldn’t do much else with a presentation each day of the week from Wednesday to Friday. I didn’t even have the time to rehearse for Thursday’s presentation, which was my entrepreneurship module, but somehow managed to come through, mainly because I was proposing a product I would love to build anyway.

Thursday night ended late, and began early (three 8AM days in a row are just no joke..) on Friday. Friday was just a mess – I flagged a cab and hightailed it to work the moment I ended my presentation. Simply too eager to be back in the office. Sat myself down and desperately tried to clear work before cohesion began – office cohesions are the highlight of every month! This month I planned the Bingo and I thoroughly enjoyed facilitating it and finding out about everyone else in 2359 Media. Wish we could have a session just sitting down and talking – over food, of course.

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With Aankita, one of the loveliest project managers you can ask for.

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Facilitating the Bingo game!

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With Yuko, our design intern and the intern who came in right after me!

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#internsof2359

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Jasmine, angel of Accounts in 2359. So much love!

After cohesion, hung out in office till around 10PM and then flew all the way back to Ten Mile Junction for karaoke at 11pm till 1am with Jean. Madness, I know. Two girls walking into a petrol station to buy drinks at 1.30am must be quite a sight to behold.

Once I got home, I *tried* to pack for my Melaka trip, although it was less of trying to pack then just stuffing everything I needed in and trying to stay awake. The moment I got into the car I all of collapsed and was out cold till we reached Melaka and checked into the new kid on the hotel block. Perhaps more about them after I’ve completed my stay!

When I come back on Tuesday I’ll be bombarded by the first of 3 papers that conclude this term. Can’t wait to be back in the office full-day from Thursday onwards – finally! Clearly I have issues with work-life balance. Actually, I believe it’s a myth. I’ll probably be one of those mothers who leaves work at 5.30PM sharp only to come back to it at 9PM when the kids are asleep. Then again, nothing much fulfils me more than my work now. Creating workplaces that people enjoy working at is just one of my biggest dreams, and that propels me more than ever to create it right here and now. That’s probably the only reason I managed to juggle six weeks of school/work and not come out worse for it.

In short, if you don’t feel deeply for what you do, don’t attempt this kind of lifestyle, not even to climb the career ladder. It will wear you down faster than you know it.

100 | The Case For Kindle

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Kindle Paperwhite 2, 2014 No Ads.

So I am here with a tinge of remorse today – both the shame of having to eat my words and because I just busted a good part of my salary on this little un right here. But I’ve yet to regret it, so it’s a good buy, I reckon.

Since the advent of the Kindle I’ve always insisted that I don’t want one because I prefer print books. I used to reason that I loved the font, loved feeling the pages and loved smelling the paper. And so through these years despite a few offers from relatives to get me one, I never for a moment thought of acquiescing.

Then one day, Hongting and I were discussing books, and he casually mentioned, “You should get a Kindle.” Didn’t think too much of it but it ate at me for two weeks before I caved. I even put up a post on Facebook and everyone was trying to psycho me into getting one. Andy also wanted one, and we should’ve ordered together but.. as things would have it, I woke up one day and decided that today was the day I absolutely should have a Kindle Paperwhite 2, ordered it by SMS from Kindlesupply and got it 4 hours later. Reckless? Yes. Very. Andy got his a few days later as well. Serial bookworms definitely.

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My first book: The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. Fantastic biz management book!

Because I began this journey as a detractor, here’s why you shouldn’t buy it:

You read less than 4-5 books a month
I bought this because my reading capacity is at least 4-5 full-length books a month. This does not include poetry books or plays. If you read any less than this you’ll be hard-pressed to make your Kindle worth its value.

You want to read in alternate languages or genres
Sadly Kindle has a really pitiful collection of Korean, Mandarin and Singaporean literature, which was one of the reasons why I hesitated for so long. It was only after I decided I needed to get cracking on my business reading that I took the plunge. Even now, my Kindle stores mostly classics that I don’t have the physical copies of, thick textbooks, or business-related books. I still purchase my Korean, Mandarin and Singaporean literature in printed word.

You need to get an IP mask
.. if you are lazy like me and don’t want to go through the rigours of figuring out how to mask your IP. I bought mine from IPVanish at 10 USD a month and so far it’s served me well. Some of my friends also mentioned never having to buy an IP mask for their Kindle. God blessed them 😦 But since I also use it to read Harvard Business Review (you’re only allowed to read 5 articles a month) I guess it’s worth it for me. Assess if it suits your needs or not.

It is not printed word!
Let’s face it, no matter how much e-Ink looks like real ink, it just cannot replace the look and feel of physical books. That’s why I don’t buy a lot of literature on my Kindle – font is important to me, and so is the book cover. I’d much rather read it in printed form.

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And here’s why I got it in the end:

No more lugging books around
One of my favourite fantasy series is the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. And that one series has over a thousand pages, with each book about the size of a dictionary. I am sure not going to lug that monster around. The Kindle gives me the freedom to buy psychiatry, finance and management textbooks and read them on the go without breaking my back.

Reduces cost
There’s one other thing I broke often – my bank. Paper books are more expensive than Kindle books, and that’s not counting the opportunity cost of time taken to search for that book. Could be a little subjective though – I’m spending way more now because it’s so easy to buy with this 1-click feature Amazon has (damn you) and I’ve spent an incredible amount of money on books so far.

Highlight, clippings and search function
Particularly useful when reading thick reference books. Imagine having to thumb through a 500 page book to find a certain quote, or having to copy 400 quotes into my quote book by hand (that’s what would’ve happened for the above book). It’s madness. I can highlight on my Kindle and just export the clippings .txt file after I’m done, and I can search key terms too. Granted, I do still copy poignant quotes, but for case studies and all.. Why did I not own a Kindle earlier?!

Look and Feel
I absolutely hate it when I want to read a book and it’s printed in a godawful font for reading – I’m looking at you, Calibri – and I can’t change it. Or when it’s so tiny when I read it it’s like tiny ants marching across the page. This helps. The flipside is the Kindle has limited fonts and if you like/love fonts such as Hoefler, Helvetica and Garamond, you won’t be able to get it here. Again, that’s why I buy literature in printed word. For business books, it’s not as important.

Doesn’t hurt the eyes
I spend an inordinate amount of time facing the screen nowadays and it would do me well if my reading didn’t further hurt my eyes, thank you very much. The e-Ink is very gentle on the eyes if you don’t read it at high levels. I read it at about brightness level 7, and if I can’t see then I just deem the environment too dark to read and change places. Ideally I’d try to read at as low a brightness as possible to prevent eye strain.

If you’re deliberating between a Kindle Paperwhite 2 vs. Kindle Voyage like I was, my simple answer is, it doesn’t matter. The only thing I find better about the Voyage is that it looks sleeker and the text is definitely crisp compared to the Paperwhite 2. Perhaps you prefer auto-brightness, in which case get the Kindle Voyage. I would turn off the auto-brightness so that wasn’t an issue for me. Hongting’s Voyage only cost SGD 7 more than mine (his was directly from Amazon and he waited 2 weeks) whereas I paid SGD 245 for a 2014 Kindle Paperwhite 2. Thinking of it still makes me want to pound my chest and rave at the skies. But since it’s done, so be it.

I’ve been hugging my Kindle to sleep almost every night and now I can’t really imagine life without it. The treasure trove of knowledge that’s opened up to me with the added convenience is just very worth the moolahs. In short, owning a Kindle is like being an omnivore that’s never tried berries. You never know how good it is until you taste it. And then you kind of never want to go back.

Hope this helped you if you were deliberating!

PS: Another reason why the title is “the case for Kindle” is also because my Kindle is naked and needs a case and my favourite colours are tan and navy, but a black case will do too. Thank you. 🙂

99 | Unyielding

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If there is one thing I am unequivocally proud of, it would be, without doubt, the women in my heritage.

I come from a family of incredibly strong women – women who both held day jobs and ran the household. 女人一手顶天下; the women held up the sky with just one hand. All of them were fiercely independent – even too independent for their own good. They never caved in, never gave out. They always did what they had to for their family, and career came next. (I might be the first to reverse this trend, we’ll never know) They protected the ones they loved with their lives, no matter if it was a dangerous moment or a lifetime of shielding their children from harm. They love deeply, hurt greatly, and are stronger than anyone else I’ve known.

My great-grandmother managed to tame a household of 13 children, and was a staunch Buddhist because my grandfather was well-known to be a really wild boy. My grandmother went out to buy groceries during the Japanese Occupation, and is also very proud of the fact that she once swept her teacher out of her house with a broom. She first brought her sisters up, then my uncle and mother, working multiple jobs to make ends meet. Despite being very poor, she made sure they had the nutrition, education and character they needed to be valuable members of society. She also took care of countless other children and loved them as her own. My mother, once she gave birth to me, gave up her entire youth – all her dreams and promotions – just to bring me up. She loves old folks and children with the same unrelenting love. And if anyone even thinks of trifling with me, they ought to be ready to withstand my mother’s full wrath first. Tried and tested. My grandaunts, one a teacher and the other a nurse, played an integral part in bringing up all the children despite having none of their own. They now keep the family home, and are both expert gardeners and grandmothers.

All of them are such phenomenal, formidable, indestructible women, and I am so proud to be counted in their midst. I only hope I can be half of the women they are.