No Diamonds

Dear Boys,

I didn’t get your mum a diamond ring for our wedding. She didn’t wanted one as well.

We’re not big fan of The Rock, Dwayne Johnson; yes, but not the Diamond. We are not fans of buying diamonds.

This Rock?
Or this Rock?

Phew! That is a relief for me, since I was going to make your mum my wife, had she asked for one, it’d been a bummer for me.

Anyway, diamonds are overrated. Seriously.

Personally to me, I’d rather keep gold than diamond, as diamonds is basically like most of the material items are value added by humans via marketing and salesmanship. And the market is very much monopolized by one company De Beers, who is one of the market leaders in the Diamond trade, and in the 1950s, they came up with a creative campaign which helps propelled this rock into mainstream consumer demands. Now most men can’t get married unless they have one of these rock on a ring to be able to confidently propose to a girl of his dream (nightmare). Putting much grief in a man’s pocket, and much joy on a woman’s face.

All that glitter isn’t gold

Well, let’s be frank, there are crystals and there are diamonds, both glitters, perhaps one better than the other. There are also glass cuts shaped to look like diamonds, and if you drop both on the ground, will you be able to tell one from the other?

There’s so many times I find one of these glass looking diamond cuts and I wondered if they are the real thing or not. To a layperson, it is really difficult to tell one from the other.

Diamond is forever

Basically this is a marketing campaign by Frances Gerety, a copywriter who came out with this 3-worded phrase that has endeared long after she has died.

It is a catchy phrase that let’s people think that in a tumultuous and uncertain world, having a diamond to seal the union of a couple, would helps provide some longevity in the relationship. Let’s get real, it doesn’t.

It is the magic of marketing that let’s us think narrowly, and spend stupidly. While there is some truth as to diamonds being forever, relationships certainly doesn’t. And certainly diamonds have no power whatsoever as a good luck charm or romantic talismans that glue a marriage together.  It is all about hard work and the willingness of a couple to work with each other to make the union work, and stay together, till death.

(Blood) Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend

While I knew long before I watch Leonardo DiCaprio‘s 2006 thriller Blood Diamond, which basically tells a story about the suffering and pain brought about by our demands for this glittery stones.

While the story was fictitious, the background of the story is real. The demand for diamonds is fueling conflicts in Africa. People are going to war and killing each other for diamonds, and these diamonds sometimes makes it to the consumer markets. so much so that the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was implemented in 2003 to ensure that diamonds brought to the market are not harvested through illegal means, or gotten through conflict, fighting and other less than humane means.

The bottom line is, there is a lot of people hurt or being made used of just to bring this piece of rock into the market for a man to make a woman happy. All thanks to Hollywood for the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend“, the rock is certainly a man’s pocket’s worst enemy!

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Life lessons: Soya Bean Milk and Milk

Dear Ian,

I bought 2 cartons of Soya Bean milk back one day and you handled the groceries for me, and I realised later in the day, that there only 1 of the 2 carton is in the fridge. To my suprise, you put the unopened carton with the milk carton at the shelf, which is not in the fridge, obviously.

There’s an opportunity for a life lesson.

You came over and explained to me that all cartons are to be place on the kitchen shelf, together with the milk.

Then I showed you the difference.

The soya bean milk is pasteurised, which means it was not treated with UHT (Ultra High Temperature) like the Milk carton on the right. Pasteurised products need refrigeration constantly and has to be treated differently from the UHT Milk, which can be kept in room temperature, and only needs refrigeration after opening.

It’s not your fault you didn’t know, but had you paid closer attention, you would have noticed the soya bean carton was kept at the refrigerated area at the supermarket, and the UHT milk isn’t.

Anyway, the life lesson is that you really cannot judge a book by its cover, or in this case, judge the carton all the same. The cartons might look the same, but the produce inside is different and has to be treated differently. You need to read and understand the content and of course know where it came from and give it a different treatment.

This is of course the same for people, never assume that when people came from the same place, country, religion, race and/or education, they are the same. Always read the ‘labels’, understand where they are from, and treat them the way they need to be treated. Of course, if people are so easy to read like they have instructions printed and labelled, the the world will be a much better place.

 

 

 

 

New Year Resolution…Again?!

Dear Boys,

Happy New Year! We hear this every last day of December, and first day of January.

People always tend to take stock of what was done for the entire calendar year, based on the worldwide approved Julian Calendar. Unless you live in an island on your own, where you are the king, prime minister, president and citizen all rolled into one, everybody else uses the Julian Calendar.

it is always a human fallacy to know the things that are good for us that we don’t do enough…

After taking stock, comes this ‘resolution’ thingy, which usually means trying to do some things as a goal, aim, or target to hit for the new year, and then take stock again, end of the year. It never gets old, because every January is a Happy New Year!

I’m not a resolution person. I can tell you boys why on a blog, but it will take an entire  blog to tell you why I am not a resolution person. I’m just not.

But I was reading this self-help book, at random, 101 Tiny Changes to Brighten Your Day by Ailbhe Malone, and she was talking about well… small things, tiny things we can take notice of that can either brighten our day or darken it.

It’s something like don’t sweat the small stuff, except that you do, because when you take care of the small stuff, the big stuff will take care of itself.

Well, it’s not as if I don’t know about the small stuff and we need to focus on it, it is always a human fallacy to know the things that are good for us that we don’t do enough. So reading that book is a good reminder for me to look into the minute details of things, my daily actions, and let the rest worry itself. Of course there will be consequences of our actions, but sometimes, our consequences is beyond our control, what else can we do? Micro-adjust our next steps, and the next and the next, until we get what we want.

Aikido, it is all about the small things.

I ought to know this since I’m in Aikido, as Aikido is all about the small things. Heck, life is about it, and Aikido as a martial art, is only a fraction of what we succeed or fail in life. In Aikido, we work from a large circle as a novice to a small and barely perceptible circle of a long-time Aikidoka. From small circular movement, you can displace a larger momentum. Our aim is to make our circle smaller and smaller, and the only way to achieve that is to focus on our small movements, a little muscle twitch here, or even a fleeting thought there, that might delay our decision to move a fraction of a second, or too soon.

All the small things

This is not a resolution still, but for 2019- I want to go back to basics, and focus on the minute, nano-scopic details of my actions, and how these little small actions can affect me in a large way, positively or negatively.

That means I need to work on being a more sensitive, delicate and considerate person. Not for a better world, but for a better me, which in turns helps to better the world.

Window for Everything

Window for Everything

Dear Wayne,

I remembered vividly, you were the runt in the family, and as your parents, we were always so concerned about getting enough food into you. But you ate so little when you were a baby.

So one of the afternoon, we were giving you milk, and half expecting you to not finish the bottle. But to our surprise, you managed to finished the whole bottle! That was a moment of celebration.

Well, our happiness was short-lived.

 The next moment, you gave it all back to us, milk vomit.

I never forget that cheeky look you have on you face, almost like telling us, “Hey dad, I finished the entire bottle, and then I didn’t!”

That was an epiphany, I used till this day as a parenting story.

You cannot force things.

Now that you boys are old enough, you are developing the maturity to choose you actions, and hopefully the favorable consequences that follows. It is not always the case, as some things can’t be forced.

Just as much as we tried the best we could to make Wayne drink his milk, when he is not ready to take the full bottle, he will not be able to take a full bottle, period. No amount of forcing can help us better the situation, we can either try our darnest, and just get upset over the failure of the reality to meet our expectations, or we can release ourselves from expectations and let the reality show us how things really are.

This is pretty much the story of the Human Race, sum up in a Dad’s attempt to feed his child one full bottle of milk when the child isn’t ready for it. We are always trying to push our luck, and despite of our best effort, it often don’t go our way. Sometimes is does, more often than not, it doesn’t.

Letting go.

So learn to let go, do what you can, and sometimes, when you are not ready, you simply cannot do it. You can try, put in effort, learn and explain it, it will not happen the way you wanted it to happen.

It is a judgment call, I guess, and there is really no correct answer to it, sometimes, you might be over-doing it, trying too hard; sometimes, you are not trying hard enough. Whatever it is, use your experience and see for yourself, if too much is just nice, and too little is overbearing.

LGBT- Your dad’s opinion

LGBT- Your dad’s opinion

Dear boys,

This is going to be a sensitive topic.

Well, actually it isn’t.

Maybe your dad is looking at it from a simplistic point of view.

Anyway here it goes.

I have no idea what LGBT was during my early years. All I can remember was, I was a Sales Assistant in AA Fashion, selling women’s clothing. It was just a sales job and I was 17 years old, waiting for my national service enlistment.

So it was retail sales, and this young boy, sells clothes, women clothes. What a place to be in. Anyway it was just a job, and I was doing it to kill time, waiting for my call to the Army.

My Thai ‘Female’ customer

One of our regulars was a bunch of Thais, who likes to buy our clothing in bulk. My supervisor at that time, Jessie and another senior, Sharon, knows them and usually serves them. I don’t know these Thais well, but I know them enough to see that they are transvestites. And having not understanding of them, I don’t want to have anything to do with them.

They somehow knew that, and at times can be quite cheeky about trying to get me to ‘serve’ them, or help them with packing their bulk purchases. Jessie, and Sharon will always try to be firm with them, and in a way, protect me from their ‘harassment.’

That was that, I don’t really have any opinion about it.

Well, the LGBT issues.

I don’t really care about this recent ‘repeal 377A‘ thingy, and I guess they want to sort of legalise gay marriage of sorts. Personally I think it is somewhat politicized, so let’s not go there. It is a deep dark slippery road with no end in sight.

Here’s what a Dad can says to you boys.

LGBT exists, like it or not.

You cannot hate it away, nor pretend it is not there, nor uses the law against it. It simply exists.

So what do we do about such individuals in society?

Well, I am obviously not LGBT in the truest sense, and I don’t think you boys will end up gays. But it is a conversation your mum and I still have and holds true to. Even if you boys turn out to be, we will still love you the same.

Look beyond sexual orientation and see love

I’m not interested in the men screw men part, or women beds women part, which to some can be repulsive. As long as all these sexual acts are done in the privacy of a 4 walls, with mutual consent, it is not my business to interfere, just as much as a man and a woman makes love in public, which is just as lewd and immoral.

Keep sex personal. If a couple wants to show Public Display of Affection, I have no qualms about it. Men can kiss men, women can kiss women, that’s fine. Just as much as a man can kiss his dog and a woman can kiss her pet cat. but again, if you would like to copulate your pet dog or cat, please stay indoors.

It is about relationship, and love

Perhaps it is too simplistic for me, but it is a choice I make. As long as a man loves a man, and cares for each other, for better or for worse, in sickness and good health, till death do us part, I’m fine with that commitment.

How many heterosexual couples have we seen stuck to a dead-end and sometimes abusive relationship. Men beaten by wives, and wive abused by their husbands, isn’t that more worthy of persecution than see two men in love and taking care of each other?

Maybe there is something deeper I am missing out, but now that I am older, I do see some lesbians holding hands, one woman being woman, and the other woman trying to be masculine. I’ve grown old enough to accept that. they have their lives to live, and to choose the lesser road traveled, they are already living with a tremendous identity crisis, and burden. LGBTs has been long ostracized by societies, and they get what they got, just because they are who they are. I don’t think that is quite fair. It is not easy living our ordinary lives, and to have the label LGBT hanging over LGBT doubles that difficulties.

Why we still hangs on to criminalizing LGBT 

Honestly, I don’t have a good answer, I’m not a lawyer, historian or any sort of extremely educated aristocrat, or academic, or politician. All I can think of is to protect the larger population’s equilibrium. Most of us are not LGBTs, and we are the majority, and the majority likes a constant, and flux are seen with apprehension and trepidation. LGBTs are odd, they appear to go against nature. (I’m not going to touch on the religiousness of the matter!), men simply do not have a sexual relationship with men. So people become influential and uses their influence to fight for and against such issues.

We need law to protect the general population, in the event that LGBT spreads like a plague and infect our children!

So just as much as 377A exists, so does LGBT. we cannot hate these 2 existentialistic issues away, they will be there, and we will still need to live with our lives.

Love is love

Personally I see love as universal. Irrespective of race, language, religion nor gender orientation. You just need to love a person, an animal enough to care for that being, and to a certain degree, die for that being. Love is always fair and we need to leave people alone to love themselves and the people the love.

My Thai Transvestites Customers

Thinking back sometimes, I wish I had the maturity to handle those Thai customers. I mean, they went the whole nine yards, and did the boob job and cut certain organs away to make themselves more womanly. Thailand are full of such people and they must have lived an amazing life.

Back then I was too young to make friends with them, learn from them and absorb their humanity. I’m sure just by being their friends and making them a little more accepted by me, will not turn me into a gay. Love is love, and it doesn’t turn men into gays, not women into lesbians.

I hope you boys can look at these LGBT issues with maturity and let them be in your lives, these are ordinary people living an extraordinary lives, who are always constantly under the threat of prosecution for being them. I’d let them live, just as much as they’d allowed me to be me.

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The Best Big Brother

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Ian and Wayne

Dear Wayne,

You have an awesome big brother. Really, no bragging.

He loves you unconditionally and in such a pure and naive manner, he can never hurt you on purpose. He has seen you grown in your mummy’s stomach and he was so ecstatic when you first came out.

Born to be your Big Brother.

Honestly, I don’t know how he does it, he took on the 大哥 role like fish to water. He knows when to protect you and look after you. We didn’t have to teach him much. He has always been there to look out for you.

Your Brother the Hustler

We will never forget back in 2009 when we went to the Central Fire Station for a kind of outing. There was a little girl coming over to your pram to check you out, your big brother wouldn’t let her touch you, and he puts himself between you and the little girl.

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Girl: cute baby!
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Ian: He’s my little brother!

Backing each other up

As the both of you grows up, there will be conflicting priorities and there will be conflicts, despite of our best efforts to make peace out of the both of you. You both need your space to grow and you will have your own priorities. Sometimes those priorities will clash, but whenever you can, please try to come to each other’s aid as much as possible.

Bath time

A couple of evenings back, you brother asked you to accompany him for his bath, well, he is kind of a scatty cat and he likes your companionship while be bath. You were on a game or something and refused to keep him company.

He came out and did a tit-for-tat when you ask him to help him with something.

I have to intervene to find out what was going on.

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Ian and Wayne 2011

The bottom line

You both are brothers, and as far as my memory serves me, your big brother has never asked of you to do unreasonable things. And he will always comes to your aid, without reservations. You have to do likewise for you.

Right now, you still have your dad and mum to come in and intervene in such instances of conflict, by the time we are dead, I don’t want the both of you to go at your throats, because of a tit-for-tat. Being brothers is more than quid pro quo, you must drop whatever you are doing and go to each other’s aid. Because like what I’ve said before, there is no one else out there, it’s just the both of you against the world.

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Never Bring Your Work Home

MjAxMy1mY2ZkZDg5ZWY4NDY4MDdkDear boys,

You will hear a lot of work-life advise in your life. Some say this and some will say that. It all depends on what works for you and what kind of a person you grow up to be.

You can either learn to take stress well, and be a tough guy, and be a Type A personality, that’s fine.

If you both gets married and have kids, you must make sure that you have a spouse you can talk to. Whether you choose to talk to your spouse or not, that is entirely a different matter.

Well, actually it is not that entirely different, becoming husband and wife and being in a marriage is building new habits, and the old ones evolve.

What I’m trying to say here is, at this stage of my marriage to your mum, I’ve learned to open up a lot more and tell her a lot of things. It didn’t used to be like that; in the past, I hate being on the phone, as part of my job requires me to be on the phone 6-8 hours a day. Enough of phone conversations!

These couple of years has evolved and I’ve taken to calling your mum ever-so-often, and you boys would have heard me calling home during lunch time and have a quick chat with your mum.

So what do we talk about?

Mostly work stuff, for me and also some work stuff for her and maybe somethings about you boys.

There will be people out there telling you not to bring work home, and when you leave the office, leave the work in the office. It means that you need to sort of compartmentalize some parts of your life and when you go home, you take off your ‘office manager’ hat and put on a ‘husband’ or ‘dad’ hat. Well I wish life is as simple as that!

Psychologically, it is quite impossible to draw a clear line as where your work ends and your family begins. sometimes, you get so heated up with a home argument, you are still carrying that anger into the office, and vice versa. And sometimes, our work and colleagues become our bona fide ‘relatives’, and we start to treat them as such.

What I’m saying is you need some skills to de-personalise your work and profession to be able to not bring work back.

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That’s not my practice. I have full transparency with your mum, and she does the same with me.  

It helps in our relationship as she knows what I am doing in my work. Its not so much about trust, but having someone to share your stories and also your woes. We are married and there are times where we have to fight the battles alone. For me, I sometimes fight those battles, with the full blessings from your mum.

Bringing work home also helps the “You don’t understand me!” department. While this will still sometimes occur, it is mitigated because there is a lot of banter. It’s not really a conversational technique, as it is something unique within a marriage and it differs from couple to couple. It is such casual banter that allows us to weave context into our relationships and when we misunderstood each other, we can pull out past banters ‘records’ and cross reference to help us work between the confusion and ambiguity.

That’s said, I don’t usually bring my family to work, despite of the fact that my wife and you boys are a very big part of my life. It is again a judgement call dependent on the kind of people I am working with. There are colleagues who are family oriented, because they are parents, husbands, wives who can relate to me. If such a connection can be explored, then I’ll sometimes share a bit more. But more often than not, I’d like to keep my personal, family life away from work. After all work is work, you can always find another work, but you cannot find another family.