Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

Rest in peace, Professor.

One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away
— Stephen Hawking

Quality healthcare is something to behold

As any healthy person in his twenties are wont to do, I've been neglecting to perform my yearly health checkups, even though my work covers all three major facets of health, vision, and dental. Why waste precious time to visit the clinic only for them to tell me exactly what I already know: I'm completely healthy. 

Well, one of the numerous side-effects of turning 30 is that it has you reevaluate many things, one of which is I probably should go see the doctors to get everything checked out - you know, just to be sure. One likes to think that this side of 30 as another fresh starting point, and I wanted to know my baseline - and to fix any problems - before I embark on the next great life journey (corny isn't it). 

So the past couple of weeks I've been to the eye doctor and my primary care physician - both for the very first time in my adult life (in two weeks time it's the dreaded dentist!). One of the big discoveries in doing so wasn't related to my health at all, but rather I realized how incredible my health coverage is. Not only does my work cover all three major items, but the quality of the coverage is in a word, superb. 

I've now seen with my very eyes the quality hierarchy in healthcare.  

During my impoverish childhood I was relegated to free/low-income clinics, and to contrast that experience with the level of care I got these past weeks, they are quite literally opposite ends of the spectrum. For example I thought blood test results would take a few weeks - because when I was young they did - but just two days ago Kaiser turned it around the same day, with a message from my doctor discussing the results from the very next. I was pleasantly stunned.

How lucky am I to have health benefits that cover me so completely?

People say all the time "The rich always get richer" and I think it doesn't only apply to money: proper healthcare also have compounding benefits to a person's life. Those who don't have or can't afford quality health insurance to deal with long lines, less attentive doctors, and subpar facilities. I know, because I've lived through it. Whether the system is "fair" or not is not for me to debate, but I think it's definitely an additional disadvantage to have to overcome. 

I guess I'm glad and grateful to have done so.   


Lots of questions, no answers

Hilarious how life works: when plans come to fruition, goals achieved, and things come to their places, instead of being satisfied with the outcome, the mind immediately moves on to other and newer things.

Isn't that how people get into the materialism debt-trap? 

How hard is it to simply be content with the present? Then again, if we were all like that, where would human progress be? Somewhat retarded, wouldn't it? 

There seems to be fine line between being ambitious and being disrespectfully ungrateful. Many people "under" me would love to be in my position so there's no reason at all for me to be dissatisfied. Yet, is it not a disservice to myself to not keep chasing the new and different - to improve?

Feign as we might, we do the things we do in service of the great ego

It's too easy to be content with what's already there once you've attained a certain level of monetary and lifestyle "success". For me I could easily work my current day job until the working years expire; my life would be relatively comfortable and I'd have no worries. That's the kind of endgame my parents' generation toiled so hard for us to get to. 

But is that fun? Is that enriching? Would I be slapping my parents in the face? 

People say the best things happens when you are not comfortable i.e. outside of your comfort zone. Should we then constantly strive to be uncomfortable? As soon as we get to some sort of stasis we should impel ourselves to leave or shift focus? 

Lot's questions like that are swimming in my mind lately, and I've don't have much answers for them.

For now I think I'll just keep asking. 


What can the HomePod do?

Does anybody have any solid idea what Apple's upcoming HomePod can do? Anybody? Cause I've got zero idea and preorders starts at the end of this week. For a device that costs $350, I'm not about to plop down that much cash until I know exactly what it does. 

There's so few information out there and no concrete details from Apple outside of the fancy splash-page. Will the HomePod at its most basic work like my UE Boom i.e. playing music off any device via bluetooth? If I'm reading stuff correctly, it looks like it can't: the device is intrinsically tied to the user's iPhone, which I would assume is what enables the HomePod to have Siri function.

I've got an iPhone, but what if I want to stream from my iMac - where all my music is stored? From what I've read about HomePod thus far it seems that's not possible. Are people really going to pay that much money for a device that needs an iPhone to function? Probably! Just have a look at the Apple Watch: literally cannot use it without an Apple smartphone.   

I wish Apple would hold a small demo showcasing the HomePod functions, cause as of right now I'm going to wait for people's reviews before deciding whether to purchase the thing.

Too bad, Apple: I might've preordered the HomePod otherwise. 

Not be a slave to time

How do I not end up being a slave to time? It governs nearly everything that we do. Most of us have to get to work and get off work during a set certain amount of time, don't we? To acquiesce to that we have to get up at a certain time, and also schedule other ancillaries (like meals) around it. Everything becomes super coordinated and regimented, which I think is how we can sometimes burn out (even if we love the job, as I do).

We love the weekend not only because we don't have to work, but also we don't have to look at the damn clock anymore to see what we've got to do. 

Then again, weren't humans evolved this way? Before the invention of the 24 hour clock, people looked to the sun - perhaps the oldest times-keeping device of all - for directives on when to work and when to eat. But life was much, much simpler back then; these day we've got all sorts of freedoms to play with. 

Our regular weekday is highly regimented, and on weekends we rebel on that notion, which makes it really difficult to get back into it come the following Monday. We flip-flop between the two different flows and it takes more effort to get back into strictness than the other way around. 

Set work schedules aren't going anywhere for most us: only the daring few would venture out into entrepreneurship/freelancing thus able to set their own time. For the rest, it's the grind: waking up everyday not motivated by what I desire to do but what I must do. Feel like snoozing for a half hour, get in work late, but feeling more refreshed? Nope, can't do that because work rules dictate I must be there at the certain hour mark. 

Outside of work (and sleep, really, because for me sleeping consistently at the same time is a tremendous boost) I'm trying to be less strict with my time, even though like most everyone I'm trying to cram in as much itinerary as possible, be it binge watching a Netflix show for you, or studying a third language for me. The point isn't to do less, but in doing stuff I try to follow my body clock than the actual clock. I let my intuition/feeling inform me when I'm done or I should move on to something else. 

Turns out I've been conditioned so much to the real clock that my body clock isn't all that far from it, but I definitely do feel better when I'm following my natural impulses rather than some artificial limit. 

It's always a work-in-progress. 


Be thankful for the food

One of my worst habits is I eat food too quickly - especially when I am hungry or the food is extra delicious. Both my father and brother wolfs down food with much speed too so I guess it runs in the family. I've no doubt it contributes to my chronic stomach acid problems (it remains disappointing that I can't drink coffee), and more importantly I am not taking the time to savor the plate. 

Sure saves a lot of time, though. 

A mechanism I've gotten into to combat the ingestion haste is to be thankful for the food before commence eating. Not dissimilar to what Christians do in saying grace before a meal, when I give thanks for the food, I give myself a reminder what a blessing it is to have the opportunity to eat the particular meal - no matter how extravagant (or not) it is. In that mindset of gratitude, I find myself deliberately slowing down to enjoy each bite, and it's been highly beneficial. 

In concurrence I also acknowledge having the good fortune to not have to rush through a meal: there are no deadlines or work pressures that would otherwise require me to eat fast to return to what I am doing. For sure there are others that don't have such luxury. 

Lastly, when I eat slowly, I also end up eating less - those satiation signals after 20 minutes or whatever, which isn't so bad now that I'm on this side of the 30 divide. 


Thoughts on Star Wars The Last Jedi

Spoilers, obviously.

So I took a few days to digest precisely everything I saw in The Last Jedi. My immediate emotions coming out of the theatre was one of frustration and oddly, anger, but I didn't know why then. The next day I digested all manners of spoiler reviews and discussion, and the picture in my head became clear. 

I was conflicted because Episode 8 disregards every question that was left to be answered in Episode 7. Luke seeing his old lightsaber after 40 years? He tosses it into the ocean after 5 seconds of contemplation. Who are Rey's parents? Simply nobodies. Who is Snoke and how he came to be so powerful? Never explained. The Resistance base planet? Destroyed in the opening act. Maz Kanata's "a good story for another time" - how she came to possess Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber? Nothing. 

I'd go as far as to say Rian Johnson had contempt for What JJ Abrams started in The Force Awakens. 

Heading into The Last Jedi I knew about the massive deficit between the critics score and the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. I was full of excitement and anticipation because I'd thought it was major plot points and twists that are causing divide, and I'm all for a non-cookie cutter Star Wars story. Turns out I got to be disappointed at that, too. The Last Jedi is largely what I thought it would be: Rey gets trained by Luke, the First Order retaliates against the Resistance, Kylo tries to turn Rey to the dark side but get rejected, and Luke returns at the end to save the day. 

All that in it of itself makes for a good and entertaining movie - if you disregard the severed connections with Episode 7. I guess a sizable amount of fans cannot do that, which explains the low Rotten Tomatoes audience score. I can't say they are wrong: one expects a proper saga film to answer questions laid out by the one preceding it. However, I think fan's heighten expectations after two years of rampant (and fun) speculation were so on an edge that by not paying off any of it in The Last Jedi, they felt absolutely cheated.

Looking back, that was exactly my thoughts after watching the movie, and some of those sentiments stuck even after reading Rian's multiple explanations on his decisions. People suggests that upon additional viewings the film improves dramatically because all the pent up expectations were already crushed by the first watch (quite the caveat, wouldn't you say?). I'll have to see for myself when I do watch it again. 

JJ is back on Episode 9, and I wonder if he alters anything in the plans to alleviate the fan backlash. 

To balance out the negativity, here are some things I really liked in The Last Jedi. The fight scene in the throne room is easily the second best lightsaber sequence behind the duel of fates in Episode 1. Force ghost Yoda showing up (in original puppet form!) was a pleasant surprise and a memorable scene with Luke. Snoke's death at the hands of Kylo happened one film earlier than expected but I like how quickly Kylo has claimed agency over himself and the entire First Order. The opening battle of X-wings taking down a First Order 'Dreadnaught' ship, and the ending battle on the salt planet is visually spectacular. Lastly, I quite enjoy the additional levity and humor sprinkled throughout. 

So here's my current verdict: The Last Jedi is a good Star Wars saga movie if you can ignore what was left behind in The Force Awakens.