Who Moved My Cheese – Dr. Spencer Johnson

Some people say “things happen for a reason” while some others may feel “it’s all in God’s plan”. I think of it as chance, that I stumbled upon this very old book in the library while I was looking for other books. I saw that 7 habits too, but it felt too early (rather, too thick) for a revisit. As for this cheesy book, I couldn’t – for the life of me – recall its contents, even though I know for sure that I have read the book before. That’s how reliable my memory is. Laughs.

How inspiring can a simple story about four little mice, with four different approaches to hunt for cheese in a maze be? That’s the magic. The basic purpose of language is to communicate and simplicity in language enables the story to be reached out to a wider base of readers. One could read it at surface level and dismiss it as a story of “Four Little Mice”, or one could reflect deeper and relate the underlying meaning to his or her own life.

For someone rereading this book, I find it a pleasure to be reminded not to be like Hem. Instead, one should have courage to explore dark alleys like Haw. The most satisfying part is not to sink your teeth into that delicious piece of cheese in your hands, but it is to enjoy every second of the hunting (learning) process.

Dear friends, if you have not read this (very old) book before, I would recommend you to spare that hour (yes I finished it in less than an hour) for this short journey. By the way, I believe there are a couple of links to download an electronic version and I trust that such a task is not a problem at all to any of you.    

For now, I am considering reading this to my two little hamsters so that perhaps they may learn to behave like “Sniff” and “Scurry”, and not “Scream” and “Bite”. Otherwise, no cheese!


The Hidden Present under the Graduation Party

I was invited to a graduation party recently. This was to celebrate an old friend’s completion of a coaching course. The party – I was told – was prepared entirely by the graduates, with little guidance from the coaches. It was mainly a session of sharing, singing and dancing.

As a friend, all I wanted was to be there at the point of her sharing, but I ended up hearing ten more stories from strangers. No complaints here, just that I was getting bored and sleepy. Firstly, the stories shared were not in depth and engaging, which made me suspect that the public sharing was not so voluntary after all. Secondly, quite a few opted to sing a song (it felt somewhat like a “get it done and over with” task) and sitting through songs sung by strangers certainly did not feel like a great way to spend my night. However, the gratitude of the graduates to their coaches could be felt strongly throughout the session and I think this atmosphere alone made the party a success. And of course, near the end of the party, everyone went nuts screaming and dancing to “it’s my life”. I wasn’t all that keen, but they were determined to empty the seats and so yeah, I left my footprints around too. Just a side thought – shouldn’t I have a say since it’s my life? Laughs.

So what is the hidden present? It’s the advertisement. My friend said there was none but from the coaches’ surprise performance, it was obvious that there was this aggressive push for action. Many similar sessions would use the inspiring tone to make people feel that they themselves have the power to decide, and that they alone can make the change. Many would not have realized that they would have been influenced to a great extent. Though that may not be a bad thing, but it is risky to have common sense twisted.

To receive coaching is a personal thing. The mind has to be opened and the timing has to be right. It cannot be forced and it cannot be coaxed. In this case, I feel that the best form of advertisement would be by word-of-mouth. People (not the selfish ones for sure) naturally share good information around and if the coaching course had really been beneficial, it would be reflected in the individual somehow. There is no real need to “promote” anything under the wrapping of a party. Parties should be left as they are supposed to be, for fun and laughter, don’t you agree?


To read or not to read, that is the question

The recent saga over the removed titles from N*B reveals a fair bit on the quality of arguments that people are capable of. There are better ones, supported with evidence (links) and statistics (links again), documented systematically to lead readers from point to point. There are also lousy ones that resorted to name calling. The first thing – I feel – before engaging in any argument or debate, is to ask yourself – how qualified are you to comment on the subject. Speaking of which, this is the reason why I am talking about this on my personal blog as a personal view, and not as a comment under the articles.

First and foremost, I have not even read the books! So on what basis am I to comment? And how many of the people (who commented passionately and righteously) have actually read the books?

Even if I were to take a broad assumption that all of them had read the books, how can anyone take one singular personal view, as a representation of society’s view? Some of them cited “many of us” in an attempt to borrow support from the masses and the question in my head is just one word “who”. “Who” specifically is the “many”?

For those who use religion as a reason, did they forget that we are in a country that has multiple religions? As far as I can remember (not that I am that old), we practise religious tolerance and we respect the differences in views and practices. So how is it possible to use (any) religion as a reason to impose a view on others?

Morality is one of the big issues associated with this saga. But what exactly is morality? I have just checked the word in dictionary.com and the few lines of definitions point mainly to “right conduct”. So I ask again, what would be considered as a right conduct? Is there a standard answer that can withstand disputes from all directions? One definition of morality cannot represent anything more than that particular individual’s idea of morality.

It is highly possible that a person’s thinking and ideas can be affected by the books he or she reads, but isn’t learning part of life? Do we learn by reading all the “right” stuff or do we learn by reading everything and then differentiating the “right” and “wrong”? I am not a parent so I cannot comment on parenting style but I do wonder if sweeping reality under the carpet is a good strategy. During my time, talks concerning making out was a taboo and so curiosity got into some young heads. I think that was one reason that contributed to a number of abortions at that time. What I see today is that parents appear more open to talk about it and in doing so; they have the first hand opportunity to caution their children about the risks (damages) involved.

I agree that young minds should not be exposed to matured material but do those books blatantly promote values that are contradictory to family values? If they do, they will not be in the children’s section of the public libraries in the first place. If they don’t, what can children deduce from those printed words and colourful pictures? In their young innocence, how possible it is for them to understand these texts at a deeper level and grasp implicit (imposed) meanings that underlie the texts? I would like to borrow an old article (old picture, rather) as a further explanation. (http://www.frenblog.com/illusion/dolphin-illusion/)

As for my stand on whether or not those titles should be removed, I am not too concerned. There are still many titles available for loan, and there are even more titles out there in the world available for rental or purchase. Is there a real need to debate until faces turn red? Furthermore, I feel that the x number of copies that are to be destroyed should rest in peace, seeing that the titles themselves have gained much attention in just a few days. A worthy sacrifice, don’t you agree? And yes, I am really curious to read them now! A pen is mightier than a sword. Indeed.


How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Dreamworks

Yes I have watched Part 2 too! Not too late ya? I like this one a lot better than Part 1 because it feels more close to heart and is more engaging. For one thing, there is no more need for an introduction between humans and dragons, and the movie starts off with a “Quidditch-like” game that is bound to send anyone into amusement over the sheep’s expressions. The bonding between the humans and the dragons is stronger than ever, and it is obvious that Toothless and Hiccup function as one item. And of course, they never cease to make fun of each other with little antics and this is what we all love to watch isn’t it?

Hiccup’s search for self continues here as a background theme and a new character (Valka) emerges to explain why Hiccup is so different from the rest of the Vikings. The plot has more details with more characters, but ultimately Toothless saves the day, but not before he makes a fatal mistake against his will. But I suppose that can be seen as a payment to the dragons, just as Hiccup admits to being the culprit behind Toothless’s injured tail and that his injured leg balances it out somehow.

The animation can be seen as very detailed and precise, especially for Toothless’s multiple expressions. Although he never speaks, he is very expressive. This is certainly one area that impresses me.  A similar “Quidditch-like” game ends the movie and this kind of provides a rounded and healing effect, in the sense that life goes on, and everyone has learnt something and emerges as a stronger person.

So did you notice the two little plaits on Hiccup? I think Hiccup does not notice. Didn’t I say there is a lack of heads for hairstylists to showcase their skills? (laughs)