The One-Eyed Beast Watches

The One-Eyed Beast

The one-eyed beast shines upon me from its perch beyond the clouds, its solitary cry ringing within my hollow cranium, the voices of a thousand wailing teenagers echoing like metal in a spinning barrel, endlessly turning and ringing and sounding out across the galaxies of forgotten times, making me crave the simple silence and a swift end.

An end to the intolerable rise of the tides within my temples when I hear the half-arsed murmur of a lacklustre human, a zombie with no will of its own but an undying hunger for pills and processed junk food. An end to the meaningless screeches of the bourgeoisie, trying to fill their fat pockets with breadcrumbs of the pigs that tower above them, resigned to their impotent destiny, powerless to change their own fates.

With a sword I shall end it all, put an end to these soulless ghouls with a satisfying stab through the midriff, muddying my blade in foul mists of coagulated humour. And not the mirthful kind.

Ever deeper I wade into the sea of rotting carcasses, bodies piling up all around me as blurred, unseen faces of ex-people pass left and right, tumble and spill beneath my blade. This never-ending torrent is but a test, a test of wit and will, for the undead can never truly harm me unless I let them, unless I let them inside my mind and let their black greed and pessimism infect my soul.

My fortitude and forebears protect me, allowing me to swing my bastard sword again and again, keeping the enemy at bay. Offense is the best defense, as is oft observed, and by defeating these beasts I am not only protecting myself, but the days of the other living.

And yet these mindless marching zombies do not appear to mean me any harm. They appear to be shambling beyond my bitter frame, despite the harm I am bestowing upon their brethren, lurching towards an unseen ledge like the lemmings of legend that rush over to their doom (it’s a myth, by the way). I begin to question my quest, my bloodthirsty hacking journey. What do they really want? Where are they marching?

Perhaps they are merely following a road laid down for them. Perhaps they are all in my mind…

Who really knows where the roads in our mind will lead us?

It is a contorted, distorted road that I walk, one with more twists and turns than life itself, this weathered imaginary flagstone path that I follow. Much like the foul beings that march all around me, I have been conditioned to follow the path, condemned to stick to the safe passage crafted by those that came before me for all eternity.

But then I realise that within my own mental realm I am free, I am imagine a road of my own, a path less travelled, or many forks snaking away into the abyss that the likes of man (and woman) knows not!

How do I access this lofty world of freedom where I can go wherever I want and be whoever I want to be? Where dreams can be dreams and be truly imaginarily explored and fulfilled?

I must escape the undead hordes, release myself from their grimy clutches, not just on my figurative physical form, but also on my mind. Their mind-numbing march is not my own, their misdirection is their own folly and I choose not to walk the murky, trodden path that their decomposing feet trample.

I must find my own freedom and break free of these ethereal shackles, fiery brands and twisted daggers scorched upon my wrinkled dome. I want to break away, I want to break free.

And I’ve realised running is the best way to free my mind, to free the spirit. Dashing out from between these sedentary lumbering corpses with their guts hanging out of their tattered apparel.

The one-eyed beast watches over me as my feet pound the pavement beneath its gentle light, beneath the towers of stone and sand built by man, beneath a steely sky that glows from within, a fire in its belly that never sleeps.

An Afternoon With An Olive-Backed Sunbird

Today I saw an olive-backed sunbird!

Olive-backed Sunbird Birds Malaysia
This little dude! (Photo credit: Internet)

It was flitting and hopping about alone right outside my window as the rain gently gilded the green boughs of my pink bird flower plant.

And so I stood there and admired it meticulously going from flower to flower, bird poking bird flower in some strange silent pantomime.

Didn’t have my phone on me, and because I didn’t want to spook it and I didn’t wish to miss a moment of it, I stood there for what felt like an hour just gazing out at the energetic little warbler. So I didn’t take any photos, just the memories in my mind of that magical moment in time when I came close to feeling like some Disney princess.

And I was perfectly fine with it.

Listening to the little passerine let out a few chirps and tweets, I wondered what Mr. Trump was up to these days. Then it was back to work.

Here’s the pink bird flower plant I mentioned, and a brief shot of the rain today:

Nobody Cares

Let’s get one thing straight: people don’t care about you.

People don’t care if you’ve lost a pint of blood or your intestines are gummed up and fried from chemo; they don’t care about how many levels of hell you’ve been through and how terrible your childhood (or lack thereof) was. They will suck every last drop from your lesioned arteries, drain you dry of your essence without a moment’s hesitation.

They only care about themselves and what’s good for them.

Even if they appear to care about you, they’re really just concerned about what’s in it for them, what they can get out of the exchange at the end of it. Like studies have shown, doing charity and being nice to others gives you a dopamine rush, so it’s win-win!

Or they’re altruistic so their clan or next of kin will benefit and have a better life; they’re thinking one step ahead.

People don’t care about you. At the end of the day, everyone just looks out for themselves, directly or indirectly.

But unfortunately, we humans need one another. We still have to kind of work together to achieve some common goal or sense of bullshit civilisation.

Well, that’s a bummer.

So yes, if you want to get anywhere, you’ve got to hear people out, make them feel like you care about them. Just so you can have your way and live a little easier.

As much as you may try to avoid all human interaction (as many are wont to do this day and age, especially with this delightful thing called the internet), at some point you still have to go collect that parcel from the delivery person or wait for the security guard to scan you in.

So what do you do in a world where no one really cares?

Should you be fake? Should you pretend to care when deep down you just wish everyone would curl up and implode in a bright red ball of chunky splatter?

They only care about themselves and what’s good for them. And so should you.


Well, yeah. Care about yourself first. This isn’t some trick question!

And then if you have the attention and the energy, you can try caring about other people and what they’re doing.

I’ve realised that trying to be super nice and bending over backwards for others doesn’t really get you anywhere. I mean, still be nice and polite by all means, but have the guts to draw the line somewhere.

Don’t be nice and polite just for the sake of being nice and polite. Get something out of the exchange! That’s the secret.

If everyone else is getting dopamine rushes except for yourself, then buddy you’re not playing the game right.

So start caring about yourself first. It’s not a selfish thing, it’s the right thing to do.

Because honestly, nobody cares about you so you might as well start caring for yourself.

I’m reminded of an Avril song. Just change the word “home” to “cares”. Still just as emo.

Nobody cares, dude.

Being Eccentric

I guess most people would describe me with the word “eccentric”. Perhaps “quirky” if they were trying to be nice. People try to be nice a lot, at least to your face.

Top 10 Eccentric Movie Characters - YouTube

So I imagine the terms “eccentric” and “crazy” are thrown around a lot when I’m beyond earshot. I’m writing this not because I’m at all fazed or bothered by what other people think, but more to explore the notion of eccentricity.

What is the definition of being “eccentric”?

Departing from a recognized, conventional, or established norm or pattern.

So basically being a deviant, an outlier, someone who doesn’t conform to the norm, who doesn’t fit in or get along.

Strange, weird, bizarre, deviant, erratic, peculiar. Here are a few other fun terms that tie into the eccentric status.

There are many facets to being an eccentric. It’s like depression – you have to tick a few of the boxes to be a confirmed eccentric. Thankfully, being depressed isn’t one of them, although that is commonly attributed to eccentricity.

So what are the steps to being labelled eccentric?

  1. Keeping to yourself; enjoying your own company
  2. Acting the way you like, usually in an anti-social manner
  3. Liking the natural state of things
  4. Having an atypical belief system
  5. Doing weird activities (but within the legal system, for the most part)

Let’s break it down, shall we?

Numero Uno: Eccentrics Keep To Themselves

Why? Because it’s easier.

Life is simpler when you don’t have to accommodate others, when you can do things you want, when you want, the way you want it.

People who like to go off on their own and do their own thing are thought to be a little off, right? Off with the fairies, they say. Hiking through the lonely hills, drifting upon a solitary sea.

But is there a problem with enjoying your own space, having a dose of me-time?

Yes, humans are social creatures and no man is an island and all that, but that doesn’t mean you need to be surrounded by yammering yahoos all day long.

The extremes are the hermits, those who shun the company of fellow human beings and retreat to nature, far from the madding crowd. Perhaps you would go a little loopy being in solitary confinement all by yourself. But then again, you have the company of nature and her flora and fauna. Fresh air does wonders to you, you know?

So in short, an eccentric person would tend to be a lone ranger, a singularity, an isolated entity, that curious person who would rather read a book or take a walk than browse Netflix or sip cocktails at parties.

Funnily enough, considering his name is Solo, Han was rarely ever alone.

Point the Second: Anti-social Actions

People expect those labelled as eccentric to act out in certain ways, often in crude or brutish ways, with snappy temperaments and lengthy lectures about irrelevant things.

I don’t think those people are eccentric, they’re just ill-mannered.

Eccentric people will push other people away, or keep them at arm’s length (actually that’s barely social distancing – definitely several arm lengths). This is because of point the first – eccentric people value their own space and time and want to keep it sacred.

And that means prioritising it over other things, like other people or activities that they feel are meaningless.

That indicates that eccentric people have a mind of their own. They are not bound by social obligation, not influenced by peer pressure, not swayed by public opinion, not brainwashed by herd mentality. They are not afraid to have their own thoughts, and sometimes not afraid to express them as they see fit.

Eccentric people act however they like, which sounds like a bad thing. I’m imagining poo flinging and public music making. However if no one is getting hurt or inconvenienced, I see no harm in letting eccentric people have their own way.

Eccentric people will do what they like, when they like, how they like. And the dangerous part is they don’t care what other people think. They’ll walk their dog in the middle of the night; they’ll talk to themselves out loud and makes amusing (at least to them) sounds.

The eccentric do things their way, which society regards as bad, because they are not team players. They don’t fit into the hierarchical work structure; they do their jobs a funny way. And yes, they’re not the best at communication or at adhering to society’s rules and regulations.

They’re the rebels, the mavericks, the loose cannons. The eccentric won’t rule the earth, and they certainly won’t stop anyone who is gearing to try.

第三 : Natural State of Mind

Progress is about conquering and going beyond the natural state of things, right? So returning to nature is bad; it is a step backwards and is undesirable.

And so we slave our days away to pave over this dirty, uncomfortable natural world. We build glass houses and gaudy rocket ships to pierce the heavens and pollute the earth, our home and place of birth and living.

The eccentric tend to gravitate toward nature and a simpler way of doing things, a tranquil uncomplicated way of living. Eccentric folk don’t want to participate in the rat race – they’ll work, but only as a means to an end.

Eccentric folk tend to shy away from socialising, as they are content with their existing company, even if it’s largely their own. They avoid the “vulgar masses”, the mindless herds of sheep and cattle suffering from FOMO.

Nature is the perfect example of contentment. Nature does not need to strive – it grows and it thrives, it withers and it dies. The cycle repeats, and yet the pattern is always unique, always changing and adapting, while always staying the same.

Being at one with nature and going back to your roots is eccentric; it is only something monks and hippies do. Environmentalists lobby for a cleaner, greener earth, but they just want to make sure their pristine mansion doesn’t sink because some dipshit clogged the sewers with their plastic waste. They all want to care for the cute turtle and otter, but a lot of it feels like attention-grabbing.

Eccentric people don’t care for that – they just feel nature has all the best things to offer, and offers it without having to sign up and download the latest app or investing some ridiculous amount of money every month.

Those eccentric folk like tending to animals and plants and romping through the jungle and over the hills. And the best part is all of this can be done without even saying a word. Perhaps that’s the appeal of pets (although we talk to them all the same).

As mentioned, eccentrics appear to be weaker in communication, but that’s just because they appreciate the power of the spoken word, and they treasure silence.

Is silence the natural state? Mother nature is a noisy bitch, but her cries and her vibrations resonate within us. They are a part of us, like purring is a part of a household cat. They are instinctive noises, guttural earthen sounds, that our brain processes differently from speech.

And so eccentric people glide back to their roots, back to nature or as close as they can get. They go out in search of their homeland, where they belong. They go with the flow, they’re in no rush.

Nombor Empat: Losing Your Religion

Having an atypical belief system isn’t just about the afterlife and top tier principles; it permeates into every aspect of life.

Eccentric people believe in…well, whatever they want to believe in. Not what society says they should believe. Or it might be their own interpretation of whatever the prevailing belief system is.

Those eccentric folk believe that life is what you make of it, and so they give up subscribing to the American Dream and create their own dreams. They try new and different things, they’re open to new experiences, although they don’t seem to be hard up about trying everything under the sun. They don’t need to.

Having your own belief system means you’re not measured on the same scale as everyone else. At least from a societal ranking perspective. And so those eccentric folks don’t compare as much, don’t go around judging other people. They live life a lot easier and they accept things quicker and move on, going with the flow.

Of course having your own belief system means you don’t congregate with all the others and perform the same rituals as all the others, which makes you a bit of an outcast. But that doesn’t mean you don’t respect the other belief systems, or incorporate their principles into your own playbook.

Eccentric people don’t necessarily shun others and their belief structures; they just pick and choose what they deem worthy, and discard the rest. They think for themselves and form their own theories and values from their knowledge and experiences.

Religion tells you what to think and what to believe; eccentric people make up what they want to believe. Hell, a lot of these religions were started by so-called “eccentric” people.

I mean, if you met the Prophet Mohamad or Jesus on the streets, you might find the way they act and the things they say more than a little bizarre, right? Is it because they spoke in riddles and stories, or were they stark raving mad? They appeared to have their wits (and followers) about them, so their countenance and values (as well as their marketing) were certainly on point. I mean, so many people ended up liking what they said, so they must have had some merit, right? Right?

다섯 번째 : Hare-brained Hobbies

Finally, those labelled as eccentric tend to partake in strange pastimes and irregular relaxations. Their idea of fun seems a little skewed.

These activities tend to be lesser known hobbies, involving smaller groups of people. Yes, I suppose Magic: the Gathering makes the cut, but that one is really just a pay-to-win ever-expanding card game. It’s kind of a cult.

Eccentric people tend to delve into activities that meet the previous four criteria: they can do it alone or in small groups, it’s not complicated and they can do it the way they like, or whatever the natural way of doing it is, and they don’t need to proselytise in the process!

I mean, by and large these activities aren’t necessarily truly deviant; would you consider Christian an eccentric person? Perhaps eccentricity does lend itself to certain fetishes, but for the most part I feel the eccentric label is reserved for a different type of wacky crowd. Let’s keep BDSM locked up in a cage, yeah?

So what are examples of eccentric activities?

Well, there’s no exhaustive list, but generally things that most people would find strange or disturbing or downright distasteful.

Admiring bugs and plants? Running ultra-marathons? Cribbage?

Drawing stickmen? Eating uncooked and unseasoned vegetables? Travelling to the frigid wastelands of the tallest parts of the world?

Playing with stray cats and dogs? Volunteering at a soup kitchen? Learning axe throwing?

Woodworking? Picking seashells on the beach? Listening to Vegetarian Grindcore Metal?

Hint: I may or may not partake in some of these activities. I’m not saying which ones though.

Essentially, any activity that doesn’t conform with society’s idea of a normal, conventional hobby is passed off as eccentric. People fear what they don’t know and can’t understand, and eccentric people are a big part of that.

So now that we have a rough idea of what classifies as eccentric, where do you fall on the scale?

So what do you do if you tick all these boxes?

Keep on living, my friend, keep on living to the fullest.

To be fair, if you were truly eccentric, you wouldn’t be taking anyone else’s advice anyway. But here’s hoping this little essay made you think a little more, and maybe it brightened your day (or night, for those nocturnal eccentrics out there) knowing that there are others out there like you, fellow eccentrics.

Stay eccentric, my friend, and never change. Unless you want to change. Then do whatever you like, weirdo.

Personally, I’ve always been a little eccentric (if I do say so myself). I acknowledge it’s probably not an attractive quality and might hinder me from getting that promotion or that luscious mate, but as long as I have my freedom I couldn’t care less.

My belief is that as long as you are truly happy and content, and nobody is getting harmed to maintain that status quo, then why should you change? Certainly not for the approval of others, or for some short term gain. We eccentrics see the bigger picture, we plan for the long term, while on the other hand we don’t care about the future and don’t let what tomorrow holds worry us. Like a wise man once said:

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

So don’t worry, be happy.

And now I’ve got that blasted song stuck in my head. Wonderful.

Life In Asia

Perhaps I should have started this years ago, having made the decision to return to my roots, having changed my country of residence several years back. My continent of residence, I should say.

Yes, I’m currently residing in Asia.

However, that wasn’t always the case.

I had a somewhat variegated upbringing, being schooled in both Asia and Australia. This is clearly something quite commonplace in this day and age, but mine wasn’t just foreign exchange – I went back and forth, spending a chunk here and a chunk there.

Was it confusing? Disruptive? Detrimental to my development?

I don’t think so – if anything I got the best of both worlds, in a sense.

Perhaps I’d like to think my experience is unique, having been exposed more thoroughly to both sides of the coin: eastern and western, tropical and temperate, English and Chinese, noodles and spaghetti.

Anyone who has spent a considerable amount of time abroad and had the pleasure of experiencing different cultures and indoctrin-I mean, education systems, can attest to this. By considerable I mean anywhere from six months to a year and beyond.

Different language, different styles of education, different attitudes and mannerisms. The culture shock does make some yearn and fall back on the comforts of home, usually in the form of congregating with those of the same background. Foreign student clubs and unions, study groups, living quarters.

I had that to some extent – I mingled largely with the familiar crowd, the minority, those with the same roots and ethnicity, even if they may not think or speak the same way as my original Asian brethren. It was close enough and as good as it got.

So background aside, I eventually made my way back to where I am now – in Asia. South-East Asia, to be precise (clearly still super vague – I’m being facetious).

What is it like being back here, seeing what you’ve seen? Knowing what you know? For those of you who have lived abroad and come back to your home country or to the same vicinity, how did you feel when you first returned?

Clearly everyone’s experience is non-identical and distinct. Many report feeling disenfranchised, like an outsider, hints of racism, but also feeling warmth and kindness and something they would never have found at home.

Yes, I admit on some level, I always felt like I never truly belonged. Being a minority in a country has its effects, not just in the pervasive racial undertones from external parties, but even internally within our own communities, our Asian gangs and gatherings (I use the term “gang” in a jocular sense – we didn’t actually go around extorting protection money).

I spoke and wrote the language, just as well as any of the born-and-bred locals (I’d like to think). Perhaps not all the way to the local lingo, but if I didn’t provide any indication, just from reading this, you might not immediately guess which country I hail from.

I paid my dues and did my job and didn’t take advantage of the system, a system that hands out freebies to the impoverished and needy, an imperfect system but one that tries to provide a standard level of care for all. It wasn’t a bad or poor system by any means, although rigid and unyielding in some ways. There was support and benefits, and for the most part people tried to be civil and kind toward me and each other.

Being back in Asia I see the disparities, how different things are, a comparison across the board. Some things are better, some are worse, pros and cons.

Recently I visited the equivalent of the slums here in Asia.

Think high density and small living spaces. Like Hong Kong, but not nearly as bad.

The first thing that hits you is the smell.

There was more than rain pouring down from the skies.

Slums exist almost everywhere in the world, I imagine. But seeing it in your own hometown still comes as a shock. Seeing the living conditions and meeting the people there is a sobering wake-up call.

And unlike Australia, the local government here doesn’t give so many handouts to these folk. Not to say they are entirely disregarded – there are institutes that care for the families and senior citizens that reside in these government built apartments.

What struck me (apart from the rubbish raining down) was the way of life of the people staying there, their outlook and attitudes. Almost like a caste system, mentally resigned to their fate, prisoners in their own minds.

For a lot of these people, there is no way out, no escape from their situation, no saviour or redemption or change. You can see it in their eyes, hear it in their voices. The only way out is wrapped in a blanket or tarp.

And they will continue to subsist like this, day in day out.

And now in lockdown, they see no way of earning an income. Again, there is no way out. And so they wait – either for handouts, or for the sweet release of death.

Of course there are such places in Australia and other countries in the world, and the way they are treated and regarded is probably not so different.

At the very least, they tend to be more concerned about smells. Or it could just be the climate that enhances it.

Did you know that you smell better in a moister environment?

Life Is A Sidequest

I imagine the parallel of reality and video game life is nothing new, most likely hackneyed. To be fair, our creations tend to mimic our inspiration and our every-day reality. And this means our games and entertainment reflect on our real world status – that our entire life and existence is just one sidequest after another.

Think about it – what do you do every day, day after day? Wake up, check your quest statuses, fill up on energy, finish some simple sidequests, like make coffee, brush your teeth and make the bed. Then you start work on some of the longer sidequests, like gain skills, earn money, help NPCs (those other people that just stand around all day waiting to talk).

Our hobbies are a whole subcategory of sidequests, designed to distract us from the main quest. Oh, there’s a main quest? What is it?

Not dying, I suppose.

You spend your whole life gaining EXP and levelling up skills and traits, so in the end you can…what? Make little you’s and give them the tools and guidance they need to not die in the coming Apocalypse?

We speak of progress, the progress of the human race. Reaching the stars and distant planets, so we can…what? Mine them for fish and gold and resources to continue exploring more places to multiply and pillage? What next?

Each sidequest is a means to gain or unlock another sidequest. We earn money completing sidequests so we can unlock new equipment or fast travel to different places.

Sure, we have fun and enjoy the journey. Some sidequests are definitely more fun than others. And each day some sidequests are just repeats of slaying the same rats and collecting the same berries over and over again.

Sure, each day is different from the past, although some may feel like someone hit the reset button and Groundhog Day-ed you. And so the sidequests change, ever so slightly.

Each day we have a list of sidequests, a mission to complete. If we don’t have a list of sidequests, or don’t manage to complete any, we call it “unproductive”.

When we get sick, when we get depressed, our sidequests get put on hold, to make way for easier, simpler sidequests. Just surviving, slowly healing. Breathing becomes a sidequest.

And so as we click and swipe away on our devices, sending electrical signals through conduits to databases of steel and electricity, what are we achieving?

Completing more sidequests, even faster than ever before. Getting that dose of dopamine, that hint of happiness, just by looking down and touching a piece of glass.

And so we do it more – sidequests on our device. We do sidequests with our friends, with anonymous people online. We make digital transactions, exchange numbers, increase virtual stats, trade bits and bytes.

Whatever makes us happy.

So at the end of it, we don’t die.

Is there meaning in our sidequests? What do these sidequests achieve? What do they add up to?

What is our main quest?

Save the princess? Prevent Doomsday? Kill the evil dictator? Get the highest score in the world?

We live in a world where we have a new wave of sidequests to distract us constantly, right in the palm of our hands. Is it better or worse than it used to be? Who can say?

At the end of the day, we’re just doing what our ancestors did, day after day – complete sidequests to not die.

Is that a depressing thought? Or a comforting one?

Do we keep going through the sidequest loop day after day, distracting ourselves with one sidequest after another, because we know that if we complete the main quest, the game will end?

If we complete our main quest, the story is over, our meaning for existence is gone, the credits roll.

Or will it signify the start of another adventure, a whole new main quest? Maybe that thought is even scarier and daunting.

If all we ever do can be summarised in our stat page, would we be happy with what we see?

Your Lifetime Stats

  • Rats killed: 35
  • Roaches killed: 128
  • Video games completed: 46
  • Distance travelled: 11,578 km
  • NPCs interacted: 589
  • Sidequests completed: 2,195

If life were but a game, what stats would you be interested to see?

Hopefully your life’s sidequests add up to something significant, something worthy of a video game.

Maybe you’ve even discovered your main quest. If so, stop distracting yourself with sidequests and go complete that main quest. After you’ve levelled up enough from the sidequests, of course.

A New Dawn

Penang is undergoing change – change to catapult it into a modern city with modern architecture and infrastructure, with modern art and ideas. Penang is experiencing a new dawn.

Penang Sunrise

In addition to massive projects such as Gurney Wharf and the new outer ring road linkages, Penang’s heart is gradually transforming, slowly being renewed.

Just take a look at the old streets that branch off Lebuh Pantai – you wouldn’t recognise them anymore.

Penang Lebuh China
Penang Lebuh China

Life Is Like A Lava Lamp

I’ll be honest – I don’t really agree with Mr. Gump that life is like a box of chocolates. You know what you’re getting – it says so on the chocolate box. Even if it’s one of those fancy random chocolate fillings in random fancy shapes, the box will clearly tell you which shapes are which flavours!

Perhaps the modern world of chocolate has ruined this memorable metaphor (actually it’s a simile).

Or perhaps – and I’m sorry Mr. Gump, your mother was a little delirious.

I personally think life is like a lava lamp – it was alive and kicking twenty years ago but now nobody really has one.

Wait, that’s kind of a depressing metaphor.

Life Lava Lamp

What I mean to say is:

Life is like a lava lamp – it’s always changing and you never know what is going to happen next.

I mean, you have a rough idea of what to expect, but it’s actually really difficult to accurately depict the way the blobs will go.

A Lava Lamp? That The Best You Got?

So we all know life is about change and resisting change and coming to terms with change. Why do we care if it’s a box of chocolates or a lava lamp or a puppy turd?

Because lava lamps are beautiful.

To be honest, I actually don’t have a lava lamp. And I don’t really care about them either.

I just find life so full of interesting things.

We grow up believing that we’ll study hard and get that university certificate and get a steady job and buy a car and a house and start a family and grow old and retire happily. You know, live the great American Dream.

Even our minds and our bodies won’t conform to this silly notion!

We always think of change as this pervasive, annoying external force that comes sideways like a tsunami and flushes us out of our comfort zone.

But have you considered that you yourself are constantly changing?

You are not the person you were a day or a week ago.

You are growing and maturing, for sure (I hope). But more than that, you are changing! Changing in ways that you cannot fathom.

Your palate is changing, your attention is changing, your interests are changing.

You’re Using That Word Too Much

We’re taught in school that once puberty is over, once our growth spurt is over, that’s it – we’re locked in with the body we’ve got.

Our height is fixed, our looks are fixed, our teeth are fixed.

We cry out in anguish, we rebel. We cut, we dye, we pierce. The more permanent the better.

We learn, we buy, we work out. To a goal that we may or may not achieve.

Think about the goals that you’ve achieved. Would you be as interested in achieving them if you were certain that you could already do so? If you could easily surpass them?

Would there be any point?

Of course not!

The point of goals is to push yourself to attain something you’ve never done or never thought possible.

And thus you’ve changed.

But now that you’ve changed, you will keep changing, because you’ll move on to the next goal or the next new thing. It may be related to the previous, or it may not.

So What’s Your Point?

Us humans are a spontaneous bunch.

Like the lava lamp, we never know how we will change.  We flit from one idea to another; from one interest to the next; one person to another (except for those loyal ones). Have you ever entertained the possibility that one day you could wake up and no longer want any of the things you wanted when you went to bed?

Does that thought scare you?

Well, it shouldn’t!

Embrace it!

Perhaps you’re not fickle like me. You’ve never entertained the thought of trying all sorts of random things, like roller blading, or climbing random hills, or busking in front of the Christmas decorations at night when there’s nobody around to see you (if nobody heard you, did you really busk?).

You’ve never wavered from your life goal, the singular target in your brief existence, the prize at the end of the line.

You’ve strived to achieve it all your life, and you will never back down, never let yourself be distracted, never stop to smell the roses.

Because roses smell like poo-poo-oo, apparently.

You’ve Got Some Crazy Outcast Ideas

That all sounds kind of boring, doesn’t it?

Never having flights of fancy; never trying new and different things; never experiencing all there is to experience in this brave and magical world.

No doubt you’ve travelled abroad, lusted after some exotic broads, stayed in a nice hotel, took photos of the sunset, took your mind off work. A brief and beautiful sojourn.

And then back to the grind.

Is that all life is? A steady upward grind, with intermittent holidays in a box?

There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. No need to get defensive.

All I’m alluding to is that we as humans have the potential to change so much that perhaps even our professions could change several times in our lifetime.

Why do we have to be locked into our singular specialty for the rest of our lives?

If you’re in the infantry, do you stay there for the rest of your life? Never dreaming of moving up onto the horses? Or into the skies?

Fun fact: do you know why they’re called infantry? Because they were actually too small or young to ride horses and join the cavalry.

That’s probably not the best example, since that’s figuratively moving up, similar to climbing the corporate ladder.

What about going from the infantry to being an electrician, and then a kitemaker?

A What Now?

You know, someone that makes kites!

I’m not asking you to go be a kitemaker, or whatever they’re called.

I’m saying our thoughts and our bodies and our souls are constantly shifting and melding and flowing through this stream of life – shouldn’t our dreams and goals change accordingly?

I’ve known many who have had lovely dreams, big dreams when they were young. And they pursued those dreams with great gusto. And some even achieved those dreams at a tender young age.

Then what?

Then they settle down. Get a comfortable job and a comfortable life and a comfortable wife (or hubby). They forget about or repress any new dreams or yearnings they have that come along, because those are now distractions.

Is it better to have done many cool things in life and experienced it to the max? Or is it better to have striven unceasingly towards a core goal and achieved it, leaving behind the legacy of a life devoted to a single cause?

Or is it better to leave behind a living breathing legacy that will go on to chase their own little dreams and causes? Or is it better to die trying to achieve them all?

I have known someone who wanted to live for a hundred years. I always wondered why.

I feel it’s the depth of life that matters, not the length of it.

The length of one’s life is a gift, like a box of chocolates. But the depth is a choice, a conscious decision to take life by the balls and not be its bitch.

Live deeply, love deeply.

Embrace the change.

Remember: life is like a lava lamp.

Don’t get a lava lamp. Those things are tacky.

Why Are You Still Building?

Penang November 2017 Flood

I’m sure it’s a very novel way to get around town, but nobody would have traded their homes and belongings for this. The recent inundations have certainly brought many pressing issues to the surface of the Penangite psyche.

There were many factors that contributed to the severity of the floods that came in the night and the horror that followed; many of these were beyond human control. However, like climate change we are gradually coming to terms with the fact that we are partially to blame for all this.

One of the popular reasons cited for the bad flooding in Penang is the overdevelopment and excessive urbanisation of what little land area there is, especially on the island. While I’m sure the ridiculous bucket of water dumped on Penang (over 300mm of rainfall that fateful Saturday night) was the main culprit, the sudden boom in buildings and lack of appropriate infrastructure in Penang are certainly part of the problem.

According to our Department of Statistics, the level of urbanisation in Penang is a massive 90.8 per cent. That means over 90% of Penangites live in urban, built up settlements. That’s almost as high as Kuala Lumpur, but in Penang the population density is twice is high (1,490 persons per square kilometre)!

That doesn’t really sound that alarming. Pretty normal actually. Everyone is moving out of the kampung and joining the fun city life. Woop de doo!

This article, on the other hand, claims that the current government has approved up to 8 times as many hillslope development projects (which is a rather skewed look at a niche statistic, but it is an indicator) as their predecessors. Oh, trust me, it’s not just hillslope projects that received approval.

So, I guess that begs the question:

Why the fuck are you still building?

Seriously, there are way too many developers building way too many high rise condos for who knows who.

EcoWorld just dumped five hot steaming turds all over Penang; Mah Sing is hacking away down south; Ideal has pimped out at least five affordable bitches on the island alone; IJM decided to stop reclamation by sowing their sick cement into the seas instead; Zeon and its little weeny retards are spewing up their wet dreams; Hunza is slowly creeping around regurgitating dead babies to make up their population growth fake news.

Evil Within

And let’s not forget all the other little faecal fetish floppycocks that want to suck at the soggy piece of the pie.

They keep building and building like it’s nobody’s business, or should I say like it’s such great business, which it is. Who are they building for? Not the locals, that’s for sure.

Affordable housing is just another bone they throw to keep the locals happy, and it’s even more excuse for developers to build even more! Hooray!

They’re desperate. It’s a false economy.

Building creates jobs and cash flow and keeps the wheel turning. Keeps everyone happy, keeps everyone spending.

Oversupply doesn’t even begin to describe the property landscape in Penang. They expect the population to grow by 60% by 2020, but they’re building like it will quadruple in the next few years!

And these constructions are in no way sustainable or environmentally friendly. Calling themselves Asia Green or EcoWorld, and their structures have nothing even remotely related to nature. Oh sure, they say they’ll preserve a section and plant a few trees, and then ravage the other areas to make Carthage look like child’s play.

The sad part is they’re not even close to stopping. When they run out of land, they’ll just reclaim some more and start over! Gurney Wharf will be ready for the taking by the time most of the shithead developers are done with their current projects.

Dear government, let me ask you one question:

Are we so desperate that you need to whore out every inch of our land to foreign investors so you can cling to what little shred of dignity you have left?

You’re so concerned with making money and making big shot businessmen happy that you’ve sacrificed Penang’s blood and bones. Sure, you’re making Penang cash rich (until the Chinese own everything), but to what end? So Penang can have some ridiculously high GDP? So the fat cats can get drunk and be merry? So you can win another election?

When will enough be enough?

Life & Death & Cycling

Upon the dawn did I venture out into the balmy outdoors following a long and dreadful deluge the night before. This journey into the wilderness provided me room and time for much ponderous contemplation on matters such as life and death and some cycling in between.

Sam's Bike Blog
No trucks, only bikes

Why so morbid, you might ask? I admit it is not my natural predisposition to be preoccupied with such lofty and philosophical musings such as life and lack thereof and our human perspective of it all. However, my roaming this morning brought me into multiple close encounters with things that most people would rather not speak of.

There were three to be precise. Three of each.

Fortunately, it was not my own peril I speak of.

As I set out down a broad street I came across a shocking sight of a large, immobile monitor lizard sprawled in the middle of the street. It was almost as long as my bike, and clearly a hazard to motorists using said street. And mind you this was no back-alley, but a major motorway!

The thought of removing such an obstacle was immediate in my mind, but alas my hesitation led to inaction. Also, the thought of dragging something as heavy as I was did not bring me comfort.

The second encounter was somewhat more benign, but still rather saddening to me.

Sam's Bike Blog
Something shiny caught my eye – yet another casualty of the deluge from last night

As I passed a large drain, a bright shiny object caught my eye. Gazing down I caught sight of this majestic fish that was lying stationary in a shallow gushing rivulet of rainwater. It looked a little too pretty and well-fed not to be someone’s pet, so perhaps it got washed away with the heavy downpour not long ago.

Sam's Bike Blog
Lush life along the climb

The forest was alive after the rain – birds were chirping, bugs were buzzing, ants were streaming every which way. And then I came upon my third and most unpleasant experience.

Sam's Bike Blog
The tranquility that comes with the void; the eternal peaceful slumber

As if asleep, this poor little newborn lay upon the cold, hard bitumen. This time I stopped to inspect and found it to be deceased, so I carried it out of sight and returned it to nature.

Sam's MTB Bike Blog
Forest trekking by bike

All that cycling did work up an appetite, so I visited the welcoming little Gusto Cafe in the area. Got the special for the day!

Sam's Bike Breakfast
Heartwarming breakfast at Gusto Cafe!

Seeing all those casualties, most likely from the storm the night before, I thought about how seeing and coming so close to a thing that once lived could scar someone and serve as a reminder of our fleeting mortality. One can only hope that it is short and sweet. And yet we do not let it cripple us. We soldier on, we live knowing that the next may be our last.

And for what? So that we can have our very own plot of land for our remains to enter? So that we manage to churn out some progeny to continue their indifferent plight upon the earth? So that we can perpetuate the cycle of life and keep the wheel of fate spinning and spinning and spinning?

When I arrived back home, I was greeted by two very vocal and noisy individuals that demanded my attention. Here is one of them:

Sam Bikelah Cat
Lazy bugger. Noisy too.

After giving them their due, I proceeded to clean up. That’s when I noticed the hitchhiker that had caught a ride with me: a little lively caterpillar that was ohm-ing its way across my back! By ohm-ing, I mean making little ohm shapes with its mode of locomotion.

It only had a set of little feet at the front and rear of its stringy body, so the rest just went up and down as it cantilevered most of its body forward every step of the way.

I delivered it to the nearest tree bark and watched it prod its way into the nearest nook in the wood. I wondered if it would grow into a butterfly. That gave me hope. Of course, most likely the cats would get to it, but c’est la vie, non?

That’s enough depressing stuff from me! Go out and live life, people!