The value of things

When I started to declutter my place, I didn’t have too much trouble discarding items. I do love the feeling afterwards.

The only things that I couldn’t throw away are those that are associated with my “family” and “friends”: “I couldn’t throw away this plushy because it was given to me by my mum when I was 12, and not that book either, it’s from my dear friend from the States.”

But when I thought about it carefully, there is to be a funny gap between:

keeping these items because of its “value” (“because it’s from my mum!”)


the things that I do that give “value” to relate to these people

Continue reading

What does it mean to be a Chinese (or any ethnic group) nowadays?

A South African teacher of mine posted a video of Kimmi Skota singing “My African Dreams” and commented, “An African woman with flawless skin and perfect African features, wearing an African dress, singing an African song, with an African accent – so put that in your pipe and smoke it Beyonce.”

It struck me – how strong she feels about being from the continent of Africa. What does it mean to be an “African” (note: the term is used by her) woman? The use of that term confused me equally – didn’t I learn from somewhere that “Africans” is not suitable as a collective noun (“There are countries in Africa, you know! At least talk about North/South/East/West Africa!”)? Or is it unsuitable only in certain contexts, and which are they?

Being a Chinese is important to me, so is being a Malaysian – I feel strongly about being a Chinese-Malaysian. But there is a lot of resistance from my guts when I am being referred to “the Chinese girl”. And I ask myself, “Why?”

Is it because the term “Chinese”:

  • to me, bears a unique definition that I made up myself, and can only be applied to me? (e.g. “The Chinese in me makes me understand the need to be humble, the importance of education, and the value of harmony”)
  • to the rest of the world, is capable of suggesting a whole lot of things – physical appearance, taste, a set of values, social norms, activities, country of origin, hang out places, accent, possible occupations or knowledge of a particular language, art form and practice? And some of which I do not identify with?
  • is (therefore) problematic in itself?

What does it mean to be a Chinese (or any ethnic group) nowadays? How does racism work anyway, nowadays? In London, the UK, the world?

@LivingArchitect on @LondonRealTV

(I don’t know how the hell @LondonRealTV started following me, but thank god it did. I watched an episode before bed till 2am, and another at 10am once I woke up.)

“Time is a creative force that stops things from being irreversible The irreversibility of things is where creative opportunities lie.”

“Co-construct your future by bringing things together.”

“Science, technology and culture… work together… Attempting the unknown is creativity.”

“We should be very flexible about ‘what is a good idea?’.”

You would imagine that these quotes are from artists. In fact, they came from Dr Rachel Armstrong whose biography read as follows:

Rachel Armstrong is Co-Director of AVATAR (Advanced Virtual and Technological Architectural Research) in Architecture & Synthetic Biology at The School of Architecture & Construction, University of Greenwich, London. Senior TED Fellow, and Visiting Research Assistant at the Centre for Fundamental Living Technology, Department of Physics and Chemistry, University of Southern Denmark. Rachel is a sustainability innovator who investigates a new approach to building materials called ‘living architecture,’ that suggests it is possible for our buildings to share some of the properties of living systems. She collaboratively works across disciplines to build and develop prototypes that embody her approach.

She might have a biography of stuffs, but listen to her speak – she is just someone who is not boxed into the idea of “who I am, what I do”. Lively, explains science in a way that I can actually understand on a Sunday morning, hopelessly optimistic and just a generally exciting person.

Watch the video:

Is it OK to be a middle class?

I got my first Les Mis experience yesterday – on movie. (Yes, shamefully, I hadn’t watched the musical let alone read the book.)

Whilst I enjoyed the multilayered story, I was made uncomfortable and on a certain degree, questioned the fact that Marius who “pretended to be poor” and fought for the revolution, after the whole thing failed terribly, he married Cosette eventually in a beautiful home which I guess it’s his family’s and that they lived happily ever after. A friend said that that’s the self-indulgent part of middle class productions, no matter what the context was, the ultimate message was that we all would be seeking our own happiness.

I joined BERSIH movement since last April. Whilst I believed in the cause, was what I did – walking on the streets and spreading the word online – enough? Why did I believe in the cause in the first place – was it because I was a bored middle class where I needed some entertainment and hobby that made me feel good? Just like going volunteering for a day in Uganda, something that really just makes me feel like I’ve done something great and worth a pat on my own shoulder? And is this – being a middle class – OK?

(Does this relate to class, generation, upbringing…?)

Amazing Apps

You must know someone who has the latest piece of technology, but it has never been fully utilised and reach its potential. In fact, if you know me, then I am one of the someone.

So my eyes were wide open when I attended the Creative + Digital event “Mobile Apps Showcase” #attheSpa yesterday, organised by @TheLoopVideo at IdeasTap HQ.

The apps that were showcased really went beyond the function of utility, and beyond my imagination. They were beautifully made, well-thought out, and gave information in a way that only an iPad app could give. They provided a whole new user experience.

Rethink the terminology of app. Make one very well.

Explore Shakespeare is the one particular app that got me really excited. It broke down the barriers between Shakespeare in a really contemporary way. Word clouds, mood charts, built-in Apple dictionary; visuals and sounds in comparison became outdated.

I shall be downloading the Macbeth one and use it before I watch the adapted theatrical version played by James MacAvoy in March. Can’t wait!

Screenshot of the app

Explore Shakespeare App: Romeo and Juliet





Screenshot of word cloud and character circle

Contemporary way of explaining Shakespeare

Image source: