Archive for September, 2006

I’ve been hit by the fitness bug this last week. Let’s see what I’ve done: walked from Takashimaya to Lavender (2x), cycled a total of 10km, did 2 evenings of the stepper machine at the gym, played badminton, and probably tennis again tomorrow.

The ‘other’ benefit of exercising that I want to talk to you about is that it lifts you from your worries. For some months now, I’ve been quite burdened with somewhat heavy topics like the end of cheap oil, running 2 projects concurrently and stuff. The end result is that I started procrastinating, which I didn’t like.

Interestingly, I found that my light exercise routine lifted my mind somewhat. It ‘felt’ good after a workout, no matter what the problem was.

I highly recommend it.

iWoz wow

iWozFelt like taking the afternoon off, which I did. I stopped by at Borders and by chance, ended up with Steve Wozniak’s iWoz.

The writing is simple, straight-to-the-point and honest. I felt very comfortable reading it. It’s like reading about the life of a teacher that I’ve never had.

A year ago, I came across Steve’s interview via IT Conversations and was so inspired by it I took up to programming again. This book has the same essence:

I wanted to put chips together like an artist, better than anyone else could and in a way that would be the absolute most usable by humans.

Once in a while, there’s also the prank-pulling Wozniak that came through:

I voted for George W. Bush in 2000, because I thought it would be nice to have an average Joe kind of person in the White House instead of a smart, well-educated one. Someone who could only speak in very small words. Okay, I’m joking. The fact is I voted for Ralph Nader. But since all the pundits said that a vote for Nader was a vote for Bush, I now tell people I voted for Bush just to watch their jaws drop.

I recalled snickering to myself. It’s a great book.

Just finished watching Dan Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness presentation at TED. Professor Gilbert’s research on happiness shows that there’s no difference between synthesized happiness and actual happiness. Furthermore, he points out that when given a choice, humans inevitably end up less happy than if they are not. In other words, having choices in life makes you unhappy.

If Dan’s conclusions shock you, welcome to the club. But first, download his presentation and watch it first before you reject his thesis.

Reflecting on myself, I realised that all my life, I’ve been primarily motivated by the need to give myself more choices. I studied hard so I can choose to where and what to study in university. I worked hard so I can choose not to stay in a HDB. I re-learned programming recently so I can choose to freelance if I want more personal time.

Learning that choices make you less happy certainly turns my values upside-down, forcing me to re-evaluate them. To tell you the truth, I’m addicted to motivation. I enjoy working hard towards a clearly defined goal. I thought reaching those goals will make me happy. Now, research has proven that it wouldn’t.

So, how does this work now?

The axiom for my being motivated is happiness. Now that this is yanked from beneath me, I’d have to look for another source of motivation. Is that it?

Or, should I just switch off the booster engines now and coast from here. And like Prof Gilbert says, synthesize happiness from whatever I have now.

first ride

The bicycle I bought finally made its maiden trip today. It was postponed for a day due to rain.

Well, today’s a bright sunny 33°c and yes, I perspired quite a bit from the 15-minute trip. All in all, it felt good to move around without emitting carbon.

Hmm, to tell you the truth, my girlfriend still drives the car to work, and we work at the same place. This whole exercise might seem a little redundant but if I get the hang of it, I’ll get rid of the car. In good time 😉

Came across Jory Squibb’s Moonbeam homepage, a project website documenting Jory’s year-long journey in building a 100mpg (miles per gallon) vehicle assembled from 2 used vespas.

Here’s Jory, brimming with pride on his new-born:

I admit,  this guy looks pretty content.  A very intense year of half-time work has come to an end.  Now it’s just drive drive drive and work out any kinks.

After completing the first prototype, Jory mentioned how he wanted to ride it Boston’s Altwheel Festival:

He maps out his route…

I  hope to leave Camden, Maine at 6AM on Thursday, September 21 and drive the 192 miles to Lars Anderson Museum in Brookline Mass.

I expect to consume less than 2 gallons of gas for the entire trip.

There, I’ll attend the Altwheels Transportation Festival, starting with thursday’s  vehicle caravan to MIT, overnight at MIT, and then on Friday, joining the show-and-tell at Boston City Hall plaza.

The anticipation shows…

I hope to meet many fellow-travellors (like yourself!) there!

But in the end…

Alas, driving Moonbeam on the expressway, with its 45 MPH minimum,  was wisely kyboshed by my wife.  Moonbeam will  come to Boston by trailer.   Sigh….

He’s veto’ed by his significant other.

The feeling is uncannily familiar.

new ipod anyone?

Just read from Seth Godin’s Purple Cow that I’m a ‘post-consumption consumer’. By Seth’s definition, it means I’ve got everything I need and almost everything I want.

It’s a shame because I really wanted to have that new 80GB iPod. And on Seth’s cue, I checked that my 3G ipod has never ever reached full potential:

my ipod status

I guess it’s one less sale to Apple. Thanks to Seth.

PS: Doesn’t those reflections make you wanna hug Apple?

a greener weekend

Had some personal time today and I decided to take a short bus ride to Orchard.

I originally wanted stop by Kino at Taka to check out some books, found 2 (Seth Godin’s Small Is The New Big and Screwed: The Undeclared War Against The Middle Class) but realised that the 20% sales is only valid for the Bugis store.

Oh well, I’ve got time.

From there, I made two more stops: one at the iShop (Cineleisure) to check out the new iPod 80GB (which they didn’t have on display) and then at HMV (Heeren) where I picked up the latest Pet Shop Boys album ‘Fundamental’. Don’t tease me but I’ve been collecting PSBs for a long time. The last few has been misses but this one says ‘Their best album in over a decade” so I bought it.

From there, it’s a 2.36km (from streetdirectory) concrete jungle trek to Bugis Junction. Actually, the walk didn’t turn out half as bad as I expected it, in fact, I must say I quite enjoyed it.

You should try it sometimes.

the interim-dream

Was with a couple of friends talking about the notion of ‘dreams’ and it turns out that money is involved in all of them. Well, we’re not really all that hard-up for cash but the fact is that we’re all tied to some ‘cost-of-living’ here and in order to pursue our dreams, we will need cash to pay the rent, the ride, parents, food, etc.

Hence, the interim-dream.

The interim-dream is about being financially independent, i.e. not having to hold down a salaried job to pay for one’s living expenses.

All 3 of us agreed that $2 million is just about enough to bring about that financial independence.

So now, the only problem that’s left is to make that $2 million.

Next up, cycling to work

I’ve been thinking about selling my car for a while now. The painful part is rationalizing having to pay the bank to top up the loan balance. 3 years ago, I’ve decided on a long-term low-interest-down car loan so as to stop myself from getting a new car every couple of years. Maybe I should start this out by buying and riding a bike first.

So, why am I doing this? I hope the picture below explains it:

Benefits of Biking

Going green

I’ve been a little obsessed with how much electricity I use running my life as I do now.

I own a tiny web application development company and we run 5 servers 24×7. The server room is airconditioned 24×7. The office is airconditioned 9×5. My study is airconditioned 5×7. My bedroom is airconditioned 8×7. Then of course, there’s the washing machine and dryer, refrigerator, wifi, TV, etc, etc.

I think I use too much electricity for one person.

And even if I can well afford the bills, I don’t think I should continue living like this. It’s wrong.

So, today, I’m starting my little project to wean myself off electricity. To kick it off, I bought 2 38w fans for my study, one to pull air in and the other to pump it out. So far, so good. It’s quite comfortable actually.

Now, let me show you the math:

  • Aircon: 3.4kW * 5hrs/day * 30days * $0.2115 = $107.86
  • Fan: 0.076kW * 5hrs/day * 30days *$0.2115 = $2.41

This works out to a savings of $105.45 per month! The fans set me back about $40 each so all in all, they should pay for themselves in a month’s time.