life: larger than our plans

The net is set for the fish,
    But catches the swan in its mesh.
The praying mantis covets its prey,
    While the sparrow approaches from the rear.
Within one contrivance hides another;
Beyond one change, another is born.
Are wisdom and skill enough to put your hopes on?

From the book Master of the Three Ways, by Hung Ying-ming (1:148).

Just a reminder to myself that sometimes life is larger than our plans.

The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals…

…is that amateurs practice till they get it right, but professionals practice till they can’t get it wrong.

I love that quote.

Reminds me of how I push myself to obtain my IPPT golds. In the months leading up to it, I’d train like I was training for the Olympics. During the test days itself, even if I was tired or sick or just not feeling quite up to it, I’d still manage the gold.


To Judge a Life, Just Look at the Last Half

A beautiful quote from a beautiful book, Vegetable Roots Discourse, #92:

If a singing girl is virtuous later on in accord with her circumstances, her earlier life of rouge and flowers will not matter. The faithful wife with white hair who lets down her guard nullifies half a life of chaste endeavor. The proverb reads, “To judge a life, look just at the last half.”

A true saying indeed.

A reminder to all of us that even after what might be deemed as failure, not all is lost.

On another note, the second half of the first paragraph, about the faithful wife, reminds me about antifragility, and how it would be prudent to build antifrgile systems around what matters most to us.

Towel pull-ups improved my pull-up max by 50%!

Since completing my full-time national service in the army in 2006, I haven’t managed to do more than 12 pull-ups, generally fluctuating between a max of 10 and 12 (I could just about do about 13 in 2006), though I’ve maintained a pretty decent ready-for-eight-at-any-time standard (i.e. if you asked me to do pull-ups I’d be able to crank out eight with relative ease).

Back while I was still in the army, I’d noticed that one of my major pull-up weaknesses was forearm strength and endurance. I found that though my arms felt like they could probably do a couple more, my grip would let up and I’d drop.

In the last couple of months though, I re-discovered the towel pull-up (re-discovered because I’d read about it before but didn’t do anything about it then). And I believe it single-handedly allowed me to finally break my 13 pull-up barrier, giving me a ready-for-twelve-at-any-time standard, and a max of 15.

After a few weeks of making it part of my after-run pull-up routine (I’d generally end my runs at “fitness parks” where pull-up bars were available), I realized that I could do crank out 12 with relative ease. One night, feeling rather adventurous, I decided to see just how many I could do, and found to my astonishment that I could do 15; two more than my all-time maximum, and three more than I’d ever managed to do I the last seven years.

By improving my greatest pull-up weakness (grip/forearm-strength), I improved my pull-up max by about 50%. What is even more exciting is the fact that breaking down this barrier seems to have unlocked a lot of my pull-up potential.

For example, I’d previously avoided this thing called “ladder training”, where I’ll do multiple sets of pull-ups, with each set “climbing” up in the number of pull-ups being done (here’s more on ladder training).

I’d often had to give up halfway because of painfully fatigued forearms. But for the first time last week, I tried it  and had to give up because my whole damn upper body was killing me. It was beautiful.

It’s like playing a game where I was required to gain “tickets” to unlock a stage, and after seven long years I’ve finally gained the tickets, unlocked the stage, and finding I’m in a whole new world of pull-up fun.

Yes, it’s that exciting.

PS: Happy 2014 and happy training!

Onwards and forwards to a 20 pull-up max in 2014!

Competitive Intelligence/Analysis

It’s strange how today’s the first day I realise how closely related competitive intelligence is to so much of what I’ve been doing and thinking and writing about in the fields of data analysis *slash* business analysis *slash *  business intelligence *slash* data science etc.

This discipline even has a professional society of  called, aptly enough, Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals, something I quite serendipitously discovered after picking up a book in the library published by them and was feeling curious as to what or who they were).

It’s interesting to figure out how competitive intelligence/analysis fits into the business intelligence umbrella (or how it falls outside of it for that matter), but certainly warrants a look at for anyone interested in leveraging business knowledge/information.

Happy 2012 everyone!

It’s the first day of 2012, and what better excuse to set your goals, resolutions, and plans than today?

So what will you be up to this year?

  • Who do you hope to become?
  • What do you hope to achieve?
  • And, how do you expect to become who you want to be, or achieve what you want to do?

Personally, I’m just hoping to become a better person. Better how, and how I hope to do this, however, is still pending deeper thought — silent nights and mornings mulling over what life means. Something I hope to settle within the next week, and which is to be revised throughout the year and beyond.

Happy 2012 to you and your loved ones; may it be the greatest year yet.

No such thing as privacy in the digital age?

I just read this post on how privacy and the digital age are incompatible, and in the most part I find myself agreeing with the author than not.

Throughout my digital life I’ve found my perception of the importance of privacy swinging wildly between the extremes, sometimes being paranoid about what data I give away about myself while being extremely cavalier at others.

Lately though, I’ve been finding that when it comes to privacy one’s pretty much out at sea when dealing especially with digital media — it’s such a hard and confusing fight that sometimes you just have to wonder if it’s all worth it.

Is privacy really all that important? Or is it only important if you’ve got something to hide?


I just finished watching the Chinese movie Aftershock with the wife-to-be. It’s deliciously sob-worthy (I did drop a tear or two in parts), and was overall quite an enjoyable show.

The only pity is that this story had the potential to be so much sadder. The family-orientation(?) probably meant that the show was to be toned down a wee bit, ending on a positive-neutral note.

What If I Actually Wrote Great Content?

I was just looking through my website statistics, and noticed that two webpages made up more than 80% of my website traffic: Moon Represents My Heart by Teresa Teng and What is Dry Humour?. Although these two posts are as different as night and day, they are similar in one important aspect: they are useful and informative. Just imagine if every post I wrote was like that, I think that’d be pretty neat!