Fantasy Office

My boss humourously pointed out I seem to have an aversion to creating slides. I asked one too many times in a day, how many slides should I do; is one slide enough, etc.

If it were up to me, all bosses will get printed memos on letterheads that require signatures in their approval process. Their secretary will have to keep that signed document. If analytical or investigative reports, they appear on as a word document. Excel charts or tables will form appendices. (Nothing against them but they are workings, not the conclusion.)

Try handing up two pictures instead of a two thousand word essay on the stock market run-up to the great depression, is my thinking. Only words on a wet signature will do, thank you very much.


Brought To You By The Letter F

It is not the word flower that my son wrote in the inner page of his homework that got him into trouble.

Accordingly, I over-reacted. We both did. Kid is eight. What business does he have with swear words? We already freaked out once, when called younger child names. (The word used was not doll-face.) He said he heard it from older boys in school who use it all the time. Why can’t he use it, he wept. Later on, he told on his sister. She used something other than freckles ubiquitous in telling her brother to be quiet. He said she learnt it from her 12 year old friend.

Whatever your leanings on this topic, indulge me. He is 8. His sister is 7. We did not allow screen time when they were small – we don’t have a television set at home. Older, I vet their youtube watching. Why are older kids letting younger kids hang around them? I remember we were barely ok with someone a year younger. Two years younger, we think they are babies.

At about 14, I was reading my aunts’ books I was introduced to adults using bad words. Using them requires friends to be of similar vocab – I am introverted and my friends are unworldly. This was different when I turned 17 and got myself more sophisticated friends.

You call your mum a [seaside], I asked, incredulous.

All the time, replied my friend.

She let you, I asked in wonder.

It’s just a word, she said airily.

I totally fell for it.

I am now 44 and can tell it is rubbish talk. Most of all, Aunty is a church going kindergarten teacher. The probability of [seaside] being “just-a-word” is really slim. From then, I had friends to practice these cool new terms with and usage flowered. We were not using these words at work or randomly swearing at parents, strangers, parents and neighbours. Just amongst ourselves.

When we all had children, it stopped. It was hard to eradicate them but I succeeded. (Mr TCM doesn’t use any of these words. I am the potty mouth in the house.) Except for the odd occasion when I burnt myself cooking, or I had forgotten a very important work requirement. I cleaned myself up.

I have no doubt, that after a while they will know the context to use it. They will also clean up their potty mouth eventually. Yes it could be worse. They could be sarcastic and cynical. At this point, I am not ready to handle little children who maybe calling their moms, a beach.

Bullet Journal

During one of the highest stress points while I was working from home, I discovered bullet journal from youtube. My favourite to watch is Plant Based Bride because I love all that gold colour she puts in the journal. I also used her rolling weekly spread for my work. Journal Away has beautiful drawings in her journal. I enjoy her channel for the art.

I was really stressed in March because the kids were home for a bit. I was doing a lot of meal planning on top trying to keep up with kids homework. I had to work. My journal was a mess then because it had the kids work, my work, the food for the day (meals + snack).

In April, before the circuit breaker kicked in, I bought a planner for their homework. I planned, my husband executed. I made homework and snack breaks my husband’s job. I only did main meals.

I was still stressed in April and May but there was a bit more order in my journal – it was all about work. My tasks list for work was endless. I ran out space on the notebook. I put June in a new notebook. After a few months of experimenting I got into a groove.

I discovered that planning to the gills made me more anxious. So I started leaving weekends out from the planner. I was working on weekends but unscheduled time made me felt less stressed up.

I liked having a time sheet to blocking out my meetings. I was trying to figure out why I wasn’t completing a particular project and started to track my time. I did not magically find more hours. I realised that empty slots were filled up with other work, eg emails, work discussion, thinking, etc. I am trying to be more goal oriented but my time seem somewhat dictated by urgent business for that day. I stopped being fixated with the idea that I must accomplish big goals only. These urgent businesses were part of my job.

I started out a page a day. It took up a lot of pages. Midway through I switched to a rolling weekly list which felt tidier.

This is a great system for completing things. There is something that I find it hard to keep track of – that is my completed work. Some of my completed work will be brought up again for fine tuning because some one else has seen it and need to include their point of view. My work life has a lot of those moments. Without penciling the completed work I don’t have a list of what I have done for the month, especially if my time is spent on urgent business of the day. Penciling in doesn’t really show up in a neat way so I’m still trying to figure it out.

The other thing that I thought I could but eventually gave up was having thinking notes in the same book as the journal. It was impossible to reference any of my meeting notes because even though I had pages, everything was in a mess. I gave up and split notes and planners into different books and I felt that was more orderly.

Against the tide

My mom was determined to be middleclass. She bought a Kawai piano and I was to play it half an hour daily. She bought assessment books and told me the drill. This was at odds with my idea of childhood. I am more or less dutiful, depending on whether you spoke with my doting aunts or my mom. My dad understood the importance of working hard. He disliked homework and never got involved in my mother’s schemes. He also never said, how about a break. Interminable work stoked the fires of revolution.

No worksheets, I said to my husband, when we were picking childcare.

Amongst my few friends, I was the deviant. 回头是岸吧孩子! One of them was as fervent as a Young PAP about it. Children should start homework as young as possible. (Naturally, I ignored her.) I heard the moderates. I moaned about homework as if I was the one doing it. I still ignored them.

The teachers didn’t think the kids had a problem with school work. I concluded that the nightly assault on their spelling lists was good enough. I also thought their problems wasn’t work but behaviour. One was fidgety. They other just started class for 3 months and is a bit of a 管家婆.

Home based learning changed my life view. My son is illiterate in Chinese. My daughter doesn’t understand grammar rules. I started trying flash cards. I bought assessment books. How on earth do people decide what to buy? Luckily, my sister in law who heads English in primary school had passed me a thin booklet and an assessment book. I went to the shops with these books and bought the same thing for my son. I bought a similiar thing for Chinese. I didn’t go off into the deep end and buy exam papers like a friend advised. It would be optimistic to imagine they could take an exam and finish writing it.

Forum: MOE should publish assessment books written by teachers ...

Flowing with the tide made stress levels high. My kids were understandably upset about having mummy’s homework. I planned their school day. My husband, stuck at home, carried out those plans. The kids didn’t like Daddy messing about their homework. He was too strict, they complained. My husband missed his work – he belonged to the 手停口停族. More accurately, he was already stressed about income. Tasked to man the kids, he complained about not having his own time for paper work. Welcome to my world, I said, testily. Your life is so easy, I said at another time. I was being mean because his initial idea of manning the kids is to mess about with his phone and take a nap after.

I think we are getting better at it, the kids, their father and I. The kids yelling now takes on a note of resignation. I am now very open to the idea of tuition and the need for practice. The father is now open to changing their student care. (The 8 year old picked up rude words from older children there and they are not making sure work is done.)

Why is it that flowing with the tide is more stressful than not? It might be the realisation of not being average makes it stressful. Against the tide, there is no such realisation. It is white noise even if you notice there are others who are marching to the beat of their own drum. There is a lot more freedom. It takes more discipline and grit to flow with the tide.

Risk Management In The Time of Covid 19

Risk management in a financial industry is more structured than less – which is a very good thing for the financial industry. When I entered my next job, it was mainly handling X. I got do a bit of the “Hey I did this to figure out that!” but it was not that often. I implemented those things thought up by others. The sort of thinking in risk slants towards what ifs and how do I make something that I totally don’t know about knowable. I felt I was translating risk a lot. That was when everything was norm.

When Covid 19 struck, risk management disappeared. I don’t mean I don’t need to work but that everything was clear, predictable and stable. There was no uncertainty. The government set clear and firm laws about what is to be done. The businesses set about doing it. While it is true we don’t know how the community and the economy will emerge out of this crisis but nobody is thinking about this at the moment. The front of mind is how business can be continued at the present time. Soon, there will be gradual reopening of the business community. The funny thing is that the reopening is more uncertain than the closing – with the fear of a second wave of the virus, there is a lot more uncertainty. The potential flip flop of the ministry’s stand is requires more resources than certainty.

As a means of diversification, services industry might make our GDP earnings less risky than a manufacturing or agrarian focus if there is domestic consumption of these services. As with all decisions, there is a trade off: focus on too much domestic consumption, we won’t earn as much GDP. There is also another trade off because food access a safety concern; a healthy manufacturing sector creates jobs. But I am generalising broadly – risk and impact is relative.

In a daily stand up, my boss would asked for our plans and what we have done for the day. To this end, I have discovered something call a bullet journaling. It is helpful when there are just too many things happening. It helps with recording what was completed and what will need to be done for that day.

It doesn’t really show what I have achieved for the month. I have started recording it in the monthly page. It is interesting to see that many of my jobs requires on and off tinkering.

It also doesn’t help with feeling stressed or overworked. My current boss is really a superb boss. We had a call yesterday that was a weekend wrap up. He was asking us how we felt working at home. Imagine that! And he also remembers the family and circumstances of every team member. Impressed!

Home, working from it, other ruminations Work From Home

I am trying to recover from having immediately turned into a shrek like hue. One director just casually bragged that he had dropped 20 to 30kg and he completed writing a book.

My victories are small scale. I got to watch TV. I subscribed Netflix. I got to have adult conversations with my husband after the children go to bed. Working from home meant I don’t dress up and paint my face. I got a normal lifestyle during Covid.

When will my kids are not old enough? Would a normal lifestyle be achievable before the aches and pains set in? Or is it that I choose to overwork (easier) instead of losing that 20kgs and writing a book (harder).


3.26 蔡康永:做更好的自己




Is it really hoarding? (Or, Brought to you by Dettol)

Friday night, in Singapore, once the alert was raised, the entire nation worked with one mind.

Live reports on friends’ facebook showed incredible queues at the shopping centre. When the alert was yellow, cleaning products was first to go. Friday night, it was toilet roll and instant noodles. Then it was fresh food. There were assurances that the warehouse in the sky had all these products. A lot of tsk tsk accompanied pictures of NTUC. NTUC never had so much publicity.

What sort of trade do we have with China? I don’t know. However, at the market today, prices of fresh vegetables did go up. Not banana money inflation but it had increased. Some vegetables went up by 30%, some a bit lesser. With the reduced supply and consistent demand, prices would go up.

Is demand consistent however? I am guessing that demand has increased. There could be more eating at home for the coming week to avoid crowds – hence, lots of instant noodle, dried noodles and rice sales.

The thing that I bought more of was Dettol. I never liked the smell of it but between that and chlorine bleach, at least the Dettol won’t annoy my skin as much. I have increased my washing load – towels are cleaned daily. I am using Dettol sanitizers. Hands are washed more frequently. I have started spraying the door knobs with Dettol. I have been wiping phones with alcohol.

I don’t remember my mom was that vigilant about cleaning during SARS. Perhaps with children, I have more zest for cleaning. However, it was about the same level of cleaning when HFMD hit us. I don’t remember I was that zestful when HFMD made the rounds on and off.