My random musings 51 to 75

  1. The Amazon Kindle, to me, is one of the best inventions. It is light, reliable, feels like a paperback, has outstanding battery life and is able to store hundreds of books on one device. It has allowed me to kill time, pursue my hobby, improve my concentration/knowledge and not feel pissed off when having to wait for friends/public transport etc. Thanks Amazon, Jeff Bezos and team.’
  2. My view of Nelson Mandela: he is one generous, selfless, helpful, virtuous, courageous, impartial, determined, dignified, self-confident, merciful, honest man who believed in equality, rights and justice for all. Since young, he was extremely committed to fight for the rights of the black people and was even willing to give up his life for it. He sacrificed time from his family, his friends, his marriage and a potential career as a lawyer. Even after being jailed for 27 years, he remained undeterred and refused to give up on his goal. A man with balls of steel and extreme moral courage (just like Gandhi and Martin Luther King).
  3. Lessons from Audrey Tan (founder of Play Moolah, a financial education game for kids): look to your past to see what you liked; meet the right people and recruit a strong team with skills that complement each other; have a strong mentor; one can only prepare so much; it would be better to try first and make corrections along the way; do something you are passionate about; network with those who share similar interests as you.
  4. Objective of clearing leave but not travelling overseas: to act like a tourist in my own country; to visit as many interesting tourist attractions as possible; to avoid weekend crowds; to lead a snail’s pace of life; to lead a carefree life and explore the wonders of SG!
  5. I never liked the feeling of getting slightly tipsy and having to walk to find a particular location. But it does help in deep breathing! Should be good for Yoga, meditation or deep sea diving.
  6. I decided that (due to my lack of accounting knowledge), I have made a promise to myself that over the course of the next 2 months, I will do a brief summary of all the financial reporting standards (FRSs) and post them on fb only, not WhatsApp. Hope you guys will enjoy and learn something from them.
  7. Lee Kuan Yew once said about Singapore: ‘No, it’s not a nation. It’s a society in transition. You need a few hundred years to build a nation.’ Very true. Hope SG can get on a fast track to become a nation and have a rich and illustrious history. Happy 48th bday!
  8. Omg. Listened to Yo-Yo Ma’s 6 bach cello suites on YouTube and became high. Suddenly want to pick up the cello. Gg. Such a haunting, deep, sad, yet beautiful sound.
  9. Read ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg and it suggested one of the ways to make yourself jog on weekday evenings is to put on your running gear IMMEDIATELY after you get home from work. Sounds like a good idea!
  10. Lessons from an alumni talk on happiness: 3 fundamental needs of humans are 1) need to be known, 2) to be affirmed, 3) to be intimate. The more you give/serve, you more you receive in return. Use money to buy experiences and spend them on your loved ones. Tell your boss to keep it simple, keep it clear and take action in the workplace to make employees happy.
  11. Part 2: exhibit positive emotions by scheduling pleasurable activities or by writing a gratitude letter to someone you want to thank. Keep a gratitude journal. Note the +ve/-ve interactions in your relationships. A ratio of 5:1 is needed for one to thrive. To maintain hope, write down in 20min about your best possible self and 3 good things that happened to you each day.
  12. Just met a bartender who now dared to venture out on his own. It’s a cocktail bar at 60A Boat Quay. Ah Sam Cold Drinks Stall (don’t be deceived by the name). It’s great to see people like him drive the economy and pursue his passion at the same time. Encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit in sg!
  13. Meaningful insight from a close friend: One can spend a 5k Euro trip for 3 weeks and enjoy for that short period of time. Or one could use that 5k to invest in shares which produce dividends etc. Or one could use that sum to buy a PC, books, magazines etc; spend on loved ones to improve quality of time for a longer period. Short vs long term. Experience vs material items. To each his own.
  14. Just met a friend of mine and he introduced me to 4 other guys. A commodities trader, a commodities structurer, a bonds salesman and a brokerage guy. Need to read up more before I can connect to them. Naturally, they feel auditors are restricting their progress. I fully understand. But as regulators, we have our role to play.
  15. Discovered a new key insight about myself. I like the feeling of feeling prepared as it provides confidence and I prefer depth over breadth. Prefer reading an entire book for 3 weeks to scanning the book and capturing the key points in a few days. That also explains why I’m not keen on playing soccer when I’m unfit cos’ I don’t feel I can contribute much.
  16. I think I need a real mentor in my life. Although I’ve read much about inspiring and famous people, I can’t seek them for advice. Warren Buffett had Benjamin Graham as a mentor, Steve Jobs had Mike Markkula, Richard Branson had his parents, Nelson Mandela had Albert Luthuli, Sam Walton had L.S. Robson etc. Still looking for one.
  17. Growing up made me realize that I dislike doing activities/tasks which I’m poor at or not interested in. Even if I admit to myself that I tried my best and tried to squeeze as much fun out of it, it is barely comforting. As Warren Buffett said, know your circle of competence.
  18. Am really impressed with the baby boomer generation (like my parents) and their ability to stay in a particular job for like 15+ years. Gen Y people are so different. Always trying out new stuff, thinking that they are special and trying to find their ‘calling’ in life. Is the idea of loyalty to a company a thing of the past?
  19. Criteria for receiving my quotes on WhatsApp. At least one or more of the following: 1) we are friends; 2) I see you as a potential friend; 3) I respect you as a person; 4) I think that you are someone who appreciates quotes; 5) you are good looking.
  20. Impressed by my company managers who gave presentations while maintaining a high level of enthusiasm and willingness to impart knowledge despite the fact that the bulk of the audience wasn’t paying attention to them. Guess they have a high degree of passion for their work.
  21. If you want to complete an audit, don’t piss off your associates by sending them working papers, dividing the work and giving orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the joy of learning and seeing the signed financial statements.
  22. I realized that in my free time (hope to get some soon), I should be trying to find out ways on how to escape the trap of working 40 years (64,000 hours) of your life, till retirement. Fortune favours the brave?
  23. Don’t understand why some kids like to run for no reason despite their parents discouraging them not to run. Kids marathon perhaps? Tough. But I think kids are cool! Got the rebellious streak in them.
  24. Watched a YouTube video of a cellist playing a Bach piece with his eyes closed. Wow! And the cello doesn’t have clear demarcations on the strings on what a musical note will sound like. Guess Malcolm Gladwell’s theory of spending 10000 hours to be a master at something is true. To be good at something, one needs to spend a helluva load of time on it. Tough…
  25. I wish humans can choose whether to struggle or not in life. People should be given a choice. But when housing is so expensive, I guess the majority will have no choice but to struggle.



The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain De Botton

Consolation for Unpopularity

Socrates was sentenced to death for introducing religious novelties and corrupting the people of Athens. In addition, he failed to worship the Gods. However, in court, he stuck to his beliefs and would not waver at all. Many of the older paintings depicted such a scene, where people mourned over his death. Socrates was treated like a transcendent being. Philosophy gave Socrates the rational mind to fight off disapproval. There were a group of Greeks who were all very keen on the idea of philosophy.

Laws are a form of ‘telling people how to behave’. Some of them are in ethical and practical judgments and ‘common sense’. Some societies even tell you what you can or cannot wear. The Greeks used to slaughter animals for worship and slavery was common. Women had to listen to their husbands and could not led a public life. Most people do not question social conventions as they have practised by generations before us.

Socrates didn’t care about material wealth and taught philosophy for free. His wife was hot tempered. She was Xanthippe. He often asked commoners why they held certain common-sense beliefs. Many people associate what is popular with being right. Common sense must be questioned and warrants enquiry. One day, Socrates came upon Nicias and Laches, both war generals. They believed that to express courage, one had to join an army and fight. Socrates proposed that courage was not limited to warfare and one had to distinguish between good and evil. Meno felt that money and virtue was linked. To Socrates, the issue of justice or piety must be added to the accumulation of money. People, even in important positions, may be wrong. It is important to re-examine beliefs. Self-reflection on life’s goals are the key. The world is more flexible than you think it is. Learn to question more. With strong counter arguments, you can prevent yourself being blown about in the wind.

Anyone with a curious and well-ordered mind who seeks to evaluate a common-sense belief can start a conversation with a friend in a city street and, by following a Socratic method, may arrive at one or two ground-breaking ideas in under half an hour. – Alain De Botton

In Athens, democracy was at work. The majority of the people will decide what the state should do through a voting process. Socrates pursued philosophy because he wanted to improve the lives of others. He refused to relent or give up on the study of philosophy. Question how people come to their conclusions of life. Polus believed that in order to be happy, one should be a dictator. To Socrates, the ability to reason logically was extremely important. Listen to the experts and those with knowledge. Socrates was accused of causing harm to Athens and causing wars to start etc.

All his friends burst into tears when Socrates drank the poison. However, Socrates remained calm throughout. He was a good man, judged to be evil.

The validity of an idea or action is determined not by whether it is widely believed or widely reviled but by whether it obeys the rules of logic. It is not because an argument is denounced by a majority that it is wrong nor, for those drawn to heroic defiance, that it is right. – Alain De Botton

Consolation for Not Having Enough Money

Epicurus was born in Samos. He studied philosophy when young. It is said that he wrote more than 300 books in his lifetime. He believed in pleasure as the goal of a happy life. To him, happiness and philosophy are closely linked. His brand of philosophy was to promote happiness. His teachings were popular at that time. It was like the pursuit of pleasure.

‘What do I need for a happy life?’ To Epicurus, the common man is not well qualified to answer that question. The answer that man produces is likely to be faulty. To him, philosophy needs to drive away the sufferings of the mind to be useful. Philosophy would guide us to superior cures and eventually happiness.

Epicurus drank water and ate bread and vegetables. Friendship was extremely important to him. He discouraged others from eating alone. True friends do not care about our social standing. Freedom is the second most important thing. Epicurus and his friends didn’t like listening to people and became self-employed. They grew their own vegetables. They didn’t want to lead a material or rich life. The third factor was thought. Many of his friends were writers. Money without friends, freedom and a thought-about life wouldn’t be happy. Desires for material wealth are natural but unnecessary. However, a decent amount of salary to have a comfortable level of salary. Our essential non-material needs must be met first. Learn to identify projects for happiness. Ask yourself whether you can do without such a luxury.

Of all the things wisdom provides to help one live one’s entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship. – Epicurus

Before you eat or drink anything, consider carefully who you eat or drink with rather than what you eat or drink: for feeding without a friend is the life of a lion or a wolf. – Epicurus

We don’t exist unless there is someone who can see us existing, what we say has no meaning until someone can understand. – Alain De Botton

There is nothing dreadful in life for the man who has truly comprehended that there is nothing terrible in not living. – Epicurus

Why are we so drawn to expensive items? They can feel like solutions to things we don’t understand. Humans do not understand their needs accurately. Capitalism shifts human needs. We are easily shaped by advertising. Be happy with the simple pleasures of life.

Consolation for Frustration

Seneca died in AD 65. Nero ordered his death as there was a conspiracy to remove him from his throne. There was no evidence to link Seneca with it. Nero destroyed many others who he suspected of wrong-doing as well. Socrates’ experience was known by Seneca as well. Socrates was not changed by external circumstances. He was undisturbed all his life. To Seneca, philosophy was used to overcome conflicts between one’s wishes and reality. Seneca had suffered many personal losses in the past. Years of preparation had thought him how to deal with loss and suffering.

A wish had to collide with reality. We start to realize that the world is not fair and that we can’t get everything we want. The more we understand something, the less we are hurt by it. Anger is the ultimate infantile collision. To many philosophers, anger is one of the worst vices. Anger, to him, results from an error in reasoning. To him, anger was not an involuntary action and can be changed. We often feel entitled to things. Many of Seneca’s peers were rich. However, they were usually quite bad tempered. Is there a need to over-react to stimuli? The trick is to expect everything. We are often ‘injured’ by what we do not expect. If you undertake a journey, you must be prepared for the worst. Always expect the worst to happen. Grief should not be never-ending. Learn to think about death sometimes. It might be useful. Seneca suggested taking a meditation every morning. Metaphors are useful because they help us to remember concepts. Understand that the world is not completely fair and just. Not everything that happens to us is about us. Sometimes, things are the work of God. Anxiety is another problem that humans face. Assume what you fear may happen is certainly going to happen. A man’s peace of mind does not depend on God. Seneca introduced the idea that one could be wealthy in non-material aspects. Having eyes is a productum, something that is preferred to have. When we are hurt, we feel that thing which hurt us intended to do so. This is not right. Do not be bothered by inanimate objects.

How badly we react to frustration is critically determined by what we think of as normal. We may be frustrated that it is raining, but our familiarity with showers mean we are unlikely ever to respond to one with anger. – Seneca

Seneca more wisely asks us to consider that bad things probably will occur, but adds that they are unlikely ever to be as bad as we fear. – Alain De Botton

The wise man can lose nothing. He has everything invested in himself. He is self-sufficient…if he loses a hand through disease or war, or if some accident puts out one or both of his eyes, he will be satisfied with what is left. – Seneca

We must accept the unavoidable with tranquillity. Even if men do not want to follow, some part of their life is pre-destined and they won’t be able to escape. If you try to oppose the cart, you will suffer more. Reason allows humans to choose attitude towards certain events. Nero went crazy and started killing random people. Seneca went to study about the heavens and nature and wrote about it. He postulated why certain how certain natural disasters formed. Since we cannot change the laws of nature, it is best to endure them. Eventually, Seneca slit his wrists willingly.

We are like dogs who have tied to an unpredictable cart. Our leash is long enough to give us a degree of leeway, but not long enough to allow us to wander wherever we please. – Alain De Botton

We may be powerless to alter certain events, but we remain free to choose our attitude towards them, and it is in our spontaneous acceptance of necessity that we find our distinctive freedom. – Alain De Botton

Consolation for Inadequacy

Michel de Montaigne wasn’t interested in farming or taking care of property. He spent many hours cooped up in the library. Reading was his solace in life. He read many books by the renowned Greek philosophers. There were profound benefits associated with reading. To many philosophers, the ability to reason could make us happy. However the fact was that many of the elite were violent and arrogant. To Michel, he thought that being an animal was advantageous over a human as they could know what to do when they were sick without learning anything. Humans had to rely on doctors. Humans had to take a long time to understand complex ideas. Animals were good at love without training as well. To him, reason led to more trouble. Humans were blockheads and inadequate. Our lives were madness personified. We needed to embrace this flaw in humans.

Reading consoles me in my retreat; it relieves me of the weight of distressing idleness and, at any time, can rid me of boring company. It blunts the stabs of pain whenever pain is not too overpowering and extreme. To distract me from morose thoughts, I simply need to have recourse to books. – Michel de Montaigne

Humans are sexually inadequate. Our bodies are not sharp and are prone to illness. To him, our bodies controlled our minds. Humans have to fart and annoy people at inopportune moments. Some men even underwent castration etc. We should despise our being. We needed to accept the human condition for what it is. Humans do not have complete mental control over our bodies. You need to embrace your imperfections so that others will accept you. Men do not need to be ashamed of an occasional rebellious flaccid penis. We do not talk enough about our shortcomings. Michel chose to write about the workings of his mind and body. He described his penis, his stools and his farts etc. The ancient philosophers thought we had full control of our bodies. Humans are still subject to passions and desires.

People are quick to distinguish between the normal and abnormal. Montaigne travelled Europe for over 17 months. Different countries had different traditions. People were very critical of one another’s practises and ideas. The French thought that their heating system was superior to the Germans. Many people were not receptive of others’ cultures. The world was very peculiar indeed. Montaigne was intrigued by some unique practices by the South Americans like eating of insects etc. Every culture was beautiful. The Tupis moved villages every 6 months. They were very hospitable to strangers as well. They were a very caring society indeed. Many Indians committed suicide in the 1500s after being invaded by the Spanish. The Spanish were brutal towards them. To them, the Indians were brutes and savages. People tended to judge and comment if things were not normally what they saw or observed. The unfamiliar is not the inadequate. You can cross borders in your mind by reading about other countries’ cultures. Similar to Epicurus, friendship was the key to happiness.

We pick our friends not only because they are kind and enjoyable company, but also, perhaps more importantly, because they understand us for who we think we are. – Alain De Botton

Booksellers are the most valuable destination for the lonely, given the number of books that were written because authors couldn’t find anyone to talk to. – Alain De Botton

Clever people should be academically inclined. Montaigne did well in school. Learning about the world may be useful. But knowledge needs to be useful and it needs to be applied. There was a difference between learning and wisdom. Wisdom was more of common sense and common knowledge. Institutions of the past failed to provide enough wisdom. Do not neglect what is outstanding at hand. People needed a wiser approach to death. Montaigne set test papers that tested the morality of people. Do not lose patience with reading. People needed to take books seriously. Authors of humanities have a responsible to delivery happiness and wealth. Montaigne often quoted phrases from the Greek philosophers in their teachings. Aristotle was one of the most comprehensive philosophers. No one is genuinely marvellous. People liked to talk about ideas but did not act on them. We are actually richer than what we are.

Consolations for a Broken Heart

For this, Arthur Schopenhauer may be one of the best philosophers around. He was very pessimistic about life. Often, he was always very upset as well. He inherited a lot of money after his father passed away and didn’t have to work. He thought that the Devil was at work and that he took delight in others’ sufferings. He decided to spend the remaining of his days to reflect on life. Goethe thought that he was an interesting guy. Often, he communicated with others and knew that even if others didn’t understand, he could still deceive himself by being happy. He, occasionally engaged in monologues. In University, he offered lectures on the essence of the world and of the mind. He believed in polygamy and not in marriage. To him, life was an illusion and he was kept in motion by want and illusion. Later on in life, he became excited by dogs. He thought the Brahmins were noble people and often isolated himself in the room. He slept a great deal even in his later years. He used to own a few different dogs in his lifetime. To him, human existence was a kind of an error.

If life and existence were an enjoyable state, then everyone would reluctantly approach the unconscious state of sleep and would gladly rise from it again. But the very opposite is the case. For everyone very willingly goes to sleep and unwillingly gets up again. – Arthur Schopenhauer

Philosophers have largely ignored the issue of love. It was a largely irrational activity. Our minds had to serve our bodies to some extent. Humans had the innate drive to stay alive and reproduce. He believed love was important and that its value should not be underestimated. Love was the most inevitable of our obsessions. Love, to him, was irrational. Why do you favour someone over another? He thought it was because we could have healthy children with everyone. Love was about finding someone to carry your offspring. He came up with the theory of neutralization of weaknesses. We are not inherently unlovable. To him, people looked to marriage for the procreation of children. Animals did everything in their power to sustain life for the next generation. Creatures committed themselves to a meaningless existence. A lot of dissatisfaction stems from expectations that life should be happy. This often led to deluded hope and dissatisfaction.

Much would have been gained if through timely advice and instruction young people could have eradicated from their minds the erroneous notion that the world has a great deal to offer them. – Arthur Schopenhauer

Humans can also enjoy life apart of the demands of reproduction. We can read the works of artists and philosophers. We can learn to appreciate and draw insights from creative works. Humans should always seek to transform tears into knowledge.

Consolation for Difficulties

Friedrich Nietzsche pronounced that he was sure people would enjoy his work in the future. He believed that human difficulties should be present as they help develop us.

Humans should not be frightened by appearances. First impressions count. Schopenhauer’s work had a big impact on Nietzsche.

We know that life consists of suffering, that the harder we try to enjoy it, the more enslaved we are by it, and so we (should) discard the goods of life and practise abstinence. – Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche later went to Italy with an enthusiast for the arts and he stayed there for a few months. The scenery was perfect as they were in a villa. It was during this journey that shaped his ideas on philosophy.

He admitted that he did not agree with Schopenhauer now. Fulfilment was not about avoiding pain, but it was an inevitable step to reaching anything good.

Some of the individuals he knew had led fulfilled lives. He didn’t care much about people living. He liked people who had passed on, like Abbe Galiani, Henri Beyle, Montaigne and Goethe. They were all curious and artistically gifted. They were also drawn to everyday pleasures and humor. They all had fallen in love repeatedly. Goethe liked girls even when he was in an advanced stage of life.

They had explored their possibilities, they possessed what Nietzsche called “life”, which suggested courage, ambition, dignity, strength of character, humour and independence. – Alain De Botton

Nietzsche concluded that to attain the above, you needed to feel miserable sometimes. Joy and displeasure were linked. The more you experience of one, the greater the other you will have. Virtue is scarcely possible without displeasure.

To him, we needed to suffer pain, anxiety, envy and humiliation. Failure was necessary. A lot of the famous philosophers had works that did not turn out well. To him, to write a good novel, one needed to write down anecdotes every day. One should be tireless to collect human types and characters. One should be a good listener as well. Next, one had to reflect on the motives of human action. One needed to do all of the above in order to be a great novelist. One needed to fulfil toughness and one’s human potential.

Nietzsche was Switzerland’s most famous philosopher. He loved climate and topography. At the mountains, he wrote most of his famous works. He often worked for many hours a day and also took long walks as well. He loved climbing mountains as well. Mediocrity à Pain à Fulfilment. Pains have been met too.

We must learn to suffer whatever we cannot avoid. Our life is composed, like the harmony of the world, of discords as well as of different tones, sweet and harsh, sharp and flat, soft and loud. If a musician liked only some of them, what could he sing? He has got to know how to use all of them and blend them together. So too must we with good and ill, which are of one substance with our life. – Montaigne

Nietzsche didn’t believe much in talents. He believed in studying great work and then effecting them on your own. Raphael had managed to sublimate, spiritualize and raise to fruitfulness the difficulties in his path.

He wanted to be a professional gardener. He likened life to be like that of a plant. The roots were often messy but were necessary to keep the plant stable. Do not remove shoots of anxiety and envy. You can always learn from them.

The emotions of hatred, envy and covetousness and lust for domination are life-conditioning emotions…which must fundamentally and essentially be present in the total economy of life. – Friedrich Nietzsche

He admired the ancient Greeks. Societies which have been through pain tend to emerge stronger. One needs to respond to difficulties that could tear one apart.

He hated people who loved alcohol and found their behaviour very distasteful. He never grew to like the taste of alcohol. The Middle Ages was the alcohol poisoning of Europe. Water sufficed. One didn’t need alcohol to be happy.

He was against moral philosophy or Utilitarianism. John Stuart Mill proposed that to determine whether the action was right or wrong, one needed to measure the amount of pleasure and pain it gave rise to. To Nietzsche, man did not strive for happiness. Utilitarians suggested that happiness was painless. Artistic creation always demands immense suffering. He wanted people to accept the pain of climbing the mountain. He encouraged people to live life dangerously.

He was exposed to Christianity when young. To him, it was indecent to be a Christian. The New Testament treated difficulties as virtues.

Both Christianity and alcohol have the power to convince us that what we previously thought deficient in ourselves and the world does not require attention; both weaken our resolve to garden our problems; both deny us the chance to fulfilment. – Friedrich Nietzsche

To him, Christianity was built from a bunch of timid people and did not dare to endure the difficulties life demanded.

He wanted us to believe in what we always wanted, even when we do not have it, and may never.

Epicurus was one of his favourites. Happiness involved a life among friends. Nietzsche had a few failed relationships and lost confidence. He didn’t sell many books in his lifetime and remained poor. His health was poor too. In his later years, he was bundled and brought into an asylum.

Difficulty was a pre-requisite to fulfilment.


Happy Hour is 9 to 5 by Alexander Kjerulf

How to Love Your Job, Love Your Life, and Kick Butt at Work

You can jump out of bed on a Monday and look forward to your upcoming week. You look forward towards making a difference and are proud of what you do. Is it possible to be happy at work? Can you really be energized on Mondays? There are a lot of advantages of being happy that can translate to your own happiness. Later, after leaving my previous job, I started Woohoo Inc. Woohoo Inc was a company that gave employees happiness solutions. There is no greater joy than making others happy. Happiness leads to better productivity in both your personal and work life. Happy employees are also more creative and service-oriented. The book will encourage you to be happy and the benefits of happiness at work. The book will feature some examples of companies which have made it.

What is Happiness at Work? Learn the word ‘Arbejdsglaede’. These are ingrained in the culture of Scandinavians. It literally means ‘Work Happiness’ in English. Some of the things that make you happy are: you enjoy your work; you are proud of your work; work with amazing people; work is important to you; are appreciated; you are learning and making a difference. Learn to feel good. Try to make others feel good along the way as well. Bad jobs can kill people. Happiness is subjective and also depends on people’s preferences. It is unique to the individual. Happiness is contagious because of mirror neurons. Unhappiness is very more contagious than happiness and needs to be watched closely. You can’t force people to be happy. It has to be an invitation. You can’t dictate whether people should be happy or not. Job satisfaction does not equate to happiness. Job satisfaction is a rational process, whereby you rationally think about your job. Happiness is more of what you feel about your job. It is normal to feel unhappy once in a while, but the unhappy days should not outnumber the happy days. The perfect job doesn’t exist for sure. It is possible to be happy at work in most jobs. Decide to be happy, and make choices to be happy. It is up to you.

The more you express your happiness, the stronger it becomes inside you. If you hold your happiness in and never express it, it gradually dissipates. Express it clearly and visibly and it gets stronger and lasts longer. – Alexander Kjerulf

Happiness at work is not limited to those people lucky enough to have found their calling. It’s not only for those whose job is their first career choice. Even if the job itself is fairly generic, it’s possible to love it. – Alexander Kjerulf

Even if the work itself is perfect, that is absolutely no guarantee you’ll be happy at work. If your manager is a terrible person, if the mood at the company is bad, if you’re being bullied or treated unfairly, you will be unhappy at work, no matter how great the job. – Alexander Kjerulf

Even if you have a lot of perks at work, if the atmosphere sucks, you will still be unhappy. It’s what you do with what you have that matters. You must take charge and take control of your life. With these 2 things, you will be happy: Results and Relationships. We want to 1) make a difference; 2) contribute value; 3) know that our work matters; 4) get appreciated; 5) feel needed; 6) do work which we are proud of. Control is very important. Be positive and be yourself. Nice co-workers, a great boss, good communication all matters. Relationships make us happy. Be positive and be yourself. Instead of results, organizations should focus more on relationships. Praise is one of the most effective ways to make someone happy. It has to relevant, timely and personal in order to be effective. Give them a token or a small reward. Learn some professional skills. Have fun at work. Be curious and expand your horizons. Take a course in anything. Create a culture of learning in your organization. Learn something new about your co-worker today. Teach more. Learn about other people’s job scopes. Try new stuff out. Try new approaches to doing things and be prepared to fail sometimes. People always make mistakes and that can’t be avoided. Give employees the autonomy they want.

If we can control our environment, we will be happy. Let employees participate in the decision making process. Better in control of your work patterns will make you happy. Have an open to-do list. Allow employees to sit in during board meetings, make the financial statements transparent etc. There are 3 levels of meaning you can find at work: 1) No meaning, you find no meaning in what you do; 2) Your work has meaning because it pays the bills and supports your family; 3) You are contributing to something great and it is meaningful. Almost every job has meaning. Ask yourself how you are contributing etc. Make your results visible. Keep a to-do list so that you can track your progress and achievements. Do something other than yourself. Care for the environment and go green. Being positive at work is crucial for your success. There are many benefits associated with being happy. It is possible to teach yourself how to be happy. It is wrong to force yourself to be positive all the time. Some of the things you can do are: 1) Keep a happiness log book; 2) Have fun; 3) Be yourself; 4) Say what you think; 5) Show what you feel. Express love. Practise random acts of kindness. Say good morning and goodbye. Conduct the ‘smile’ experiment. Take an interest in other people. Help people out at the workplace. Learn to socialize. Make love the foundation of your work.

No matter how much you enjoy your job today, if you do exactly the same things in exactly the same way for a long time, sooner or later you will stop enjoying it. Human beings are learning machines, learning from everything that goes around us, and loving that feeling of getting better and wiser. – Akexander Kjerulf

Knowing that you have helped others through your work is a tremendous source of meaning. It is direct evidence that you are making the world a better place and helping people out. It’s also immensely satisfying, and a great way to get happy at work. – Alexander Kjerulf

You don’t need to make friends with everybody, but having positive relationships at work is one of the most important factors that ensure happiness at work. Positive relationship can be fostered with co-workers, employees, customers, suppliers, or even competitors. – Alexander Kjerulf

Pursuing money, promotions and job security can lead to unhappiness. When you get a raise, your happiness will increase, but it is just a temporary feeling. However, if you are paid too low, you will feel unhappy. Rewarding people has the effect of reducing motivation. Inner motivation is the way to go. Pay people fairly and at a level where they feel comfortable at. Salaries have no lasting effect on happiness. Too much job security will lead to laziness and lower standards at work. Too much job security might also lead to apathy and cynicism.

Bad boss is one of them. Many people who leave their jobs leave because of their boss. There are several ways to deal with a bad boss. 1) Classify your boss; 2) Let your boss know what they could do better; 3) Assume no bad intentions; 4) Choose the right time to talk; 5) Do it sooner rather than later; 6) Explain the effects on you and the effects on your work; 7) Suggest alternatives; 8) Praise your manager regularly. Another group are difficult co-workers. Do not overwork yourself or celebrate putting in a lot of hours at work. More hours doesn’t translate to better results and higher productivity. Workplace stress is not healthy and can lead to long term health problems. Figure out what makes you stressed at work. Celebrate the work you do. 1) Realise the conflicts are inevitable; 2) Handle conflict sooner rather than later; 3) Ask; 4) Use giraffe language; 5) Get mediation. Bureaucracy sucks. Bullying sucks as well. Negative people in the office can bring you down. You can try to make boring tasks more tolerable by making it fun. Humans have a biological need to be treated fairly and this can be seen even in animals. Unfairness can make you very unhappy. Fear of losing your job can make you unhappy.

You can always find more reasons to work. There will always be one more thing to do. But when people don’t take time out, they stop being productive. They stop being happy, and that affects the morale of everyone around them. – Carisa Bianchi

There are no jobs out there in which every single task is fun and exciting. Any job contains boring moments, routine tasks, unpleasant assignments and contact with annoying people. Of course, if your job mostly consists of tasks you really hate to do, then maybe it’s time to move on to a different job. – Alexander Kjerulf

An unhealthy diet can affect your attitude at work. Learn to keep your body trim. A healthy diet will allow you to focus on work tasks more. Eat granola bars as compared to chocolates that give you a sugar rush etc. Chart your energy levels every day. Modify your routine so as to maximise your energy levels. Sitting is bad and is sedentary. Learn to conduct stand-up meetings etc. Just move! Try to have power naps to replenish energy and boost productivity. Alcohol decreases your physical energy and affects productivity at work. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Have some me-time.

Your happiness level will determine your success in life. In the past, people adopted the Protestant Work Ethic, where people only worked hard. In the past, manual labour was very common and people didn’t complain. We should aim to be happy at work. Work takes up so much time. Work provides us with a sense of identity. It affects our personal life. Work has an impact on your health and well-being. Happiness leads to success.

Some people can have a lousy day at work and then go home and be happy as if nothing has happened. However, most people can’t pull this off and a bad day at work tends to affect the rest of their day. – Alexander Kjerulf

Happiness is Good For Business. Put people first. Happy employees will work harder for you and help you make more money. There are many other benefits associated with it. Happy people vastly outperform unhappy ones. Unhappy employees will cost you. Innovation is sparked from happy people. They are more motivated. They deliver better service. They can handle change better. Therefore, as a business, you should learn to embrace happiness.

You are responsible for your own happiness. Do not expect the manager to light your fire. Make yourself happy at work. The company’s atmosphere is simply to create an environment which is conducive for happiness. Your co-workers should work together with you to create that environment for happiness as well. Things will only change when you choose to act and be proactive about it.

Don’t settle for Meh, settle for Yay! Think back to a situation at work where you felt happy. Write it down and reflect. Dig up real-life experiences. This method is known as Appreciative Inquiry. Visualise your goal. Don’t go for okay, go for happiness! Whether to stay or to go? Whatever your choice, make it a happy one and squeeze as much happiness from it as possible.

It is frighteningly easy to stay in an unhappy work situation simply for the salary and the stability. Many people do this year after year. The worst part is that the longer you put up with an unhappy job, the harder it gets to remember how much fun work can be and the harder it gets to move on and do something about it. – Alexander Kjerulf

Make time for your people. Give people a space to air their views. Thank employees for their good work. Visualize a happy organization. Ask hypothetically questions to see whether you are truly happy. Create the business case for happiness at work. Announce your priorities to your organization and make people happy.

The actions you take must be (1) fast; (2) easy; (3) fun. Learn to involve other people and remember that happiness is contagious. Make others happy in order to feel happy as well. Make time for happy activities in your life. Celebrate goals together. Happiness is one of the greatest forces around.


Holes by Louis Sachar

It was a dry, flat wasteland (Camp Green Lake). It was deserted without any people. Warden has a shade. Scorpions and rattlesnakes won’t bother you if you ignore them. One has to avoid getting bitten by the yellow-spotted lizard at all costs.

Boys would go to the Lake to dig holes. Stanley was a poor guy. He was handcuffed in the bus. Stanley thought he could have friends in the camp. He was overweight. Sadly, he was accused for a crime he didn’t commit because of his dirty and cunning grandfather. Stanley’s father was an inventor but he didn’t have much luck. The grandfather was often used as a scapegoat for everything. Every child was named Stanley Yelnats. Not all Stanleys were failures in their lives. However, most of them didn’t fair well. Stanley finally reached Camp Green Lake. It was not green and it felt like a desert.

His throat was dry and it hurt. The land was barren and desolate. CAMP GREEN LAKE JUVENILE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY. He had to meet the guard. The man in the cowboy hat was the guard. Stanley was given two sets of clothes and a towel. He had to wear orange jumpsuits and white sneakers. The guard made him dig 1 hole every day and each must be 5 feet deep and 5 feet across. After the hole has been dug, the rest of the day was his. There was no fence and the guard challenged him to run away. There was no water for over a hundred miles. ‘Well, you better get used to it. You’re going to be thirsty for the next 18 months.’ Camp Guard

Stanley stayed in the D tent. Mr Pendanski was the counselor (Pen-Dance-Key). The Warden was very mean and Stanley was warned. Stanley was introduced to Rex and Alan. The kids were all dripping with sweat. Stanley got to sleep on Barf Bag’s cot. The 3 other boys were Jose, Theodore and Ricky. Stanley was afraid of getting bullied.

Everyone was allowed a 4minute water shower. There was no hot water. Dinner was stewed meat and vegetables. Stanley admitted he stole a pair of sneakers from Clyde Livingston. He was a famous baseball player. No one believed Stanley when he proclaimed his innocence. The cot smelled like sour milk. When walking home one day, a pair of sneakers felt from the bridge and landed on Stanley. Stanley kept it. Suddenly, while running, a police car came and arrested him. The shows were meant to be sold at an auction to raise funds for the homeless. His parents agreed to send him to Camp Green Lake.

The shovel was heavy in his hands. Digging was hard and Stanley found it tiring. All the shovels were five feet long. The whole lake looked like a moon crater. Digging helps build character. Five feet was awfully deep and wide. Soon, a blister formed on his finger. Now, his hole was 3 feet deep. The sun came up and it was warm. New blisters began to form and the sun was scorching hot now. The first hole was always the hardest. Stanley thought about quitting. The hole was their bathroom too. Elya carried a full grown pig up the mountain to impress Myra in order to get married. Zero, the smallest kid finished digging. All of them spat in the hole before heading back to camp. It felt like digging your own grave. Elya ended up falling in love with Sarah Miller in America. It was his great grand father. Now, his hole was deep enough, but not wide enough. Stanley was almost done with it. Stanley felt a sense of achievement.

The yellow spotted lizards liked to live in holes and wait before pouncing on their prey. Stanley didn’t shower with the soap. There was a room called Wreck Room. A lot of the entertainment facilities were broken. The pool table was not flat. Stanley didn’t want to get in a fight with a boy named the Caveman. X-Ray and Armpit came to his rescue. There was less fun in digging the second hole. Stanley wrote a letter to his mum.

Stanley woke up the next day. Every part of his body was aching badly. The second hole was even harder than the first. Stanley grunted and persisted. Stanley found a rock with fish fossils and believed that it was a lake previously. Now the truck came. Stanley gave the fish to Mr Pendanski. The warden wasn’t interested in fossils.

Stanley returned to his pathetic hole. X-ray wanted Stanley to give him everything he found. His logic was that he was there for a year and he deserved the rest. X-Ray was one of the smaller dudes around. Stanley was now the biggest. He was given the nickname Caveman. Stanley imagined that the ex-bully in school wouldn’t stand a chance against his new friends.

Stanley was the last one to complete. X-ray mentioned that the third hole is the hardest. Mr Pendanski emphasized on the importance of having goals. It was the first time Zero smiled. What do you want to do with your life? Zero said he liked to dig holes.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. Nothing in life is easy. But that’s no reason to give up. You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish if you set your mind to it. After all, you only have one life, so you should try to make the most of it. – Mr Pendanski

It was the next day and Stanley worked on the next hole. Stanley started losing some weight from the physical exertion. His skin was tougher now. Stanley sifted through his pile and found a gold tube. Later he saw the words K B etched on the gold tube. The tube somehow looked strangely familiar. Zigzag and the other boys came to look. Stanley had been in the camp for 2 weeks already. X-Ray collected it. He would present it the next day. Stanley was allowed to move up the line when collecting water.

X-Ray announced to Mr Pendaski that he might have found something. He thought that X-Ray might be able to get the day off. He would be given the day off. The Warden was a lady. The Warden wanted Stanley to go over. She was angry at Mr Pendaski for not following instructions. However, she let him off after a while.

He had to continue filling the canteens. The warden wanted zero the best digger to take over X-ray’s hole. Stanley had to transfer anything he found on the wheelbarrow. The dirt was to be shoveled on the wheelbarrow. The Warden didn’t want them to miss anything. Now, it dawned on Stanley that they were digging to find something.

X-ray was excited when he had the day off. Everyone worked harder after lunch. Now, Stanley tried to tell the Warden where the gold tube was found. Now, Stanley received a letter from his mother. His dad was trying to invent a way to recycle old sneakers.

The digging didn’t reveal anything and the boys had to work longer hours. In the meantime, the Warden was getting impatient. The boys continued to dig. The warden had a pitchfork. She wanted to cut down on their water supply. Stanley was hurt by a shovel. He felt blood along the side of his ear.

The boys started digging their own holes now. Zigzag’s shovel hit him yesterday. Now, Stanley spat in the hole. Tomorrow, they were going to learn rock climbing. Zero wanted to learn to read and write and wanted Stanley to teach him. Zero didn’t have anyone to write too. Stanley finished a letter to his parents.

Squid was crying. He had allergies. There were no racial problems. X-Ray, Armpit, Zero were black. Stanley, Squid and Zigzag were white. Magnet was Hispanic. Someone threw sunflower seeds in Stanley’s hole. He quickly dumped dirt in his hole. Stanley admitted that he stole the sunflower seeds from the truck and ate them himself. It was a lie. Sir would report him to the Warren.

He was a condemned man. Stanley entered the cabin door. The Warden removed her makeup case and showed it to Stanley. She applied the bottle of nail polish made from Rattlesnake venom on her skin. Mr Sir got slapped by The Warden and the venom sunk in. He let out a scream and his body was in agony. The Warden mentioned that he wasn’t going to die. She didn’t care about his sunflower seeds.

Suddenly, Stanley saw a rattlesnake. Luckily, he took evasive action in time to escape. After he took the blame, the other boys finished his hole. It seemed like only Zero did it for him.

Zero liked digging holes. Zero helped Stanley because he didn’t steal the seeds. Stanley wanted to teach him. Zero was delighted now. It started with alphabets. It would be difficult and time consuming to teach him. In exchange for that, Zero would dig Stanley’s hole for a while. ‘I’m not stupid. I know everybody thinks I am. I just don’t like answering their questions.’ Zero .Now, Stanley recalled that he saw the gold tube in his mother’s bathroom. K.B. stood for Kate Barlow, he wondered?

In the past, Green Lake was the largest lake in Texas. In the past, Katherine Barlow made peaches. She was also a schoolteacher and a very loving and caring person. Trout Walker liked her. He was the son of the richest man in the county. He was also rude and stupid. The Walkers had a new boat. He wanted to bring KB around but she rejected his invite.

Mr Sir’s face had swollen. He didn’t want anyone to comment on his face. Stanley kept working on his hole. The first water truck was driven by Mr Pendanski and the second by Mr Sir. Mr Sir didn’t fill any water for Stanley and mocked him by splashing his share of the water on the ground.

Sam was the doctor in the town of Green Lake. Mary Lou was 50 years old and carried onions. Sam was extremely old and liked to eat onions. He had many unique forms of treatments. Sam helped to fix KB’s roof in exchange for her spiced peaches. KB liked to hang out with Sam. They soon fell in love.

The schoolteacher kissed the onion picker. Trout Walker termed her the devil woman. Someone grabbed her dress. KB went to the sheriff, who didn’t do much help at all. KB declared that she needed to leave the place immediately. They set fire to the schoolhouse. Sam and KB headed off on a boat. Sam was killed when Walker’s boat eventually caught up with them. Mary Lou the donkey was shot too. KB was captured. Since 110 years ago, not one drop of water fell on the land. 3 days later, KB shot the Sheriff. Since then, she was one of the most feared outlaws around.

Mr Pendanski gave Stanley more water now. The other boys were jealous that Zero helped to dig his hole for a while. The swelling on Mr Sir’s face went down. Mr Sir finally gave him water. Stanley was suspicious and didn’t want to drink it. Hector Zeroni was Zero’s real name.

KB returned to Green Lake after 20 years. Everything was gone. Suddenly, Trout Walker’s came one day and threatened her unless she told them where the loot was. It is rumoured that KB robbed banks. KB refused to them him where she hid them. They made her keep walking barefoot in the hot sun. Linda hit KB with the shovel. A lizard bit Kate’s bare ankle and this caused her to collapse to the ground. KB died laughing. Legend had it that treasure was still buried.

The weather was becoming ever warmer than ever. A storm was on happening off the east. The boys wanted rain to come. KB robbed Stanley’s great-grandfather. The image of a fist and thumb were in Stanley’s mind.

It was Zigzag’s birthday the next day. Stanley dug his 45th hole in the camp. Zigzag started treating Stanley better on his birthday by volunteering to help him dig his hole. He was actually trying to tease him. Mr Pendanski wanted Stanley to teach the bully a lesson. Now, Zigzag jumped on top of Stanley. Now, Zero had his arm around Zigzag. All the counselors came from their officers. Zigzag was angry that Stanley didn’t have to dig the holes of by himself. The Warden learnt that Stanley was doing this trade with Zero. Mr Pendanski and the Warden started quizzing the boy and started laughing at him. The Warren cancelled the reading lessons and forbade Zero from helping Stanley. Zero then challenged by refusing to dig another hole. Stanley was angry too as he wanted to teach Zero. Zero took the shovel and smashed it on Mr Pendanski’s face. The warden ordered an investigation. Zero started walking away. Stanley knew that he needed water. Before the end, the warden wanted the remaining 6 members to dig 7 holes.

Isn’t it more important for him to learn to read? Doesn’t that build character more than digging holes. – Stanley

Stanley was angry at everyone and mostly himself. Now, he wanted to help dig Zero’s hole. He dug at the hottest part of the day. He was thinking of making a run for it. He also thought about telling the Warden where the gold tube was. The next day, Zero didn’t return. Zero needed to find God’s thumb and climb the mountain. There should be water there. The Warden ordered the destruction of all of Zero’s records. She didn’t want to think prisoners died here. No one cared about Hector Zeroni.

Two days later, Brian was assigned to Group D and his nickname was Twitch. He occupied Zero’s belongings. He stole a car and ended up in Green Lake. Stanley still couldn’t help not thinking about Zero. Stanley was fidgeting and wanted to drive the water van to look for Zero. But it was almost 4 days since he left. Mr Sir spotted him now. Stanley faster took off. The airbag exploded in his face. He had driven into a hole. Stanley was feeling extremely guilty and thought that it was the end of the world. Now, Stanley ran off.

Stanley slowed to a walk. No one was chasing him. His plan was to look for Zero and return to the camp once he needed water. The holes stretched out over great distances. The warden wasn’t sure where it was and kept making the boys dig. Later, he spotted some red lizards and he kept running. Thankfully, they didn’t chase him. Later, he found an stack of empty sack of sunflowers.

The sun was overhead now. He knew he had to turn back soon. Soon, his eyes played tricks on him as he saw a mirage. Now, he saw the thumbs up size. Now, he could make out the shape of a large lake. It turned out to be an abandoned boat. There were the words on the boat ‘Mary Lou’. There was a tunnel and a small hand emerged from it.

It was Zero who had been hiding there. Zero didn’t want to go back to camp. Zero realized that it was cooler under the boat. Zero took his shovel with him before he left. It was much better under the boat. Zero drank some water from under the boat. It felt like heaven. However, there were no jars left. Stanley insisted on taking him back. Barf Bag stepped on a rattlesnake on purpose. Mary Lou was the name of the boat. Zero was suffering from stomach cramps and it hurt badly. Zero was prepared to die out here and Stanley was soon a little resigned to that fact.

 When you spend your whole life living in a hole, the only way you can go is up. – Zero

Now, they headed out. Now, Zero had another attack and he collapsed. The two of them continued. It was like chasing the moon. Zero wanted to sit down now. He collapsed. As long as Zero could go on, Stanley felt that they could. Stanley now felt he could handle the pain of death. It would be his parents and friends that he would be letting down. Now, they reached a cliff and started climbing it. They devised a plan for both of them to go up the cliff. Zero had gashes on his hands now.

Stanley could see the base of the mountain. Big Thumb was their only hope. The ground got steeper and steeper. The two boys didn’t have strength to swat off the bugs. Now, Zero threw up. There were weeds and bugs nearby and it was an indicator of water.

Zero collapsed again. Zero dangled in front of him. Now the ground flattened. Now, Zero fell and ended up in the muddy ditch. Now, Stanley started digging in the soggy soil. Stanley dragged him to the hole for water. It was an onion. The both of them ate it.

Zero wasn’t doing well and he was shaking violently. Stanley was planning to head down to retrieve the shovel. Zero admitted he was the one who took his shoes. He was referring to the pair which landed Stanley up in jail. Zero apologized.

Stanley found the onion now. He ate it. Flashback. The onion tonic could heal people. Over the next 2 days, Stanley and Zero ate onions and splashed dirty water in their mouths. Stanley headed down the mountain to look for the shovel. The onions gave him strength back. Stanley found the jars and the shovel and climbed back up the mountain.

Thankfully, Zero’s condition was improving. Stanley slowly peeled an onion. Zero liked sleeping outside. He admitted that he took the shoes from the glass case. Later, he placed the shoes at the top of the parked car. However, he kept stealing sneakers and eventually was caught.

Stanley had heard or read somewhere that right before a person freezes to death, he suddenly feels nice and warm. He wondered if perhaps he was experiencing something like that. – Louis Sachar (Holes)

Their hole was size feet deep. It was eventual that they had to return to the camp. He couldn’t remember the last time he felt happiness. Zero was sleeping near him now. To Stanley, it felt like destiny that he was in Camp. He actually felt happy for once. Stanley wanted to return to the camp and steal food etc. Now, Stanley wanted the treasure since he knew where it was buried.

Zero remembered as a child, he had a yellow room. They wanted to head down the mountain to dig. Now, the both of them felt scared. Stanley suddenly fell but thankfully he was alright. Some of the onions in the sack fell off. Zero finally spotted the Mary Lou. Zero didn’t know why his parents left him. They finally came to the Camp and could make out sounds from the Camp. They made sure it was late and there was no movement from the camp before they headed off. Now, they waited for the camp to fall asleep.

It was pitch dark outside. Zero wanted to refill their water jars. It was hard to even see what he was digging. The aim was to make the hole wider. Zero took over the digging. Now, they hit a hard object on the ground. It was metal or a treasure chest. It was a box like object. The plan was to dig a hole underneath it to try and release it. It now felt like a metal suitcase. They got it. Suddenly the Warden came to them and thanked them.

The suitcase was on Zero’s lap. Mr Sir, the Warden and Mr Pendanski were all there. Two lizards crawled on the suitcase and Zero froze. Now, Stanley was freaked out because he could see 6 lizards around him. The Warden was elated because in the past, her parents and her had to dig holes. The lizard on his neck now.

One lizard headed towards Mr Pendanski and Mr Sir shot it. The warden wanted to fabricate a story where it would seem like Stanley and Zero died by accident. Stanley didn’t move and thought about his younger days. It was day break and the lizards didn’t go away.

There were 8 lizards in the hole with Stanley. The Warden wanted Mr Sir to take the suitcase from Zero. A tarantula came along. A lizard attacked and ate it. The lizards now returned in the hole and were now on his stomach, legs and feet. There were 2 on Zero. Suddenly two cars came and a man in a business suit and cowboy hat emerged. The other person was a woman holding the briefcase. It was Stanley’s lawyers. They wanted to file for child abuse. The Warden starting lying to the lawyers. Luckily, Stanley managed to escape from the hole. Zero still held the suitcase. On the suitcase, it had the words STANLEY YELNATS.

Now, all of them walked back to camp. The tall man was the Texas Attorney General. Stanley’s lawyer was Ms. Morengo. The Warden kept twisting the story and nobody believed her. She claimed her belongings were in the suitcase which Stanley stole. The AG issued a piece of paper to Ms Morengo and Stanley was free to go. The AG promised that Zero was fine and that a full investigation would be launched. AG demanded for Zero’s file. Mr Pendanski couldn’t find it. The Warden knew she had disposed for it. Everyone realized Cavemen (Stanley) and Zero were alive. It was said that the boys didn’t have to dig holes already. The AG wanted Zero to follow him too.

The lizards don’t like onion blood. Ms Morengo took the suitcase with them. An investigation was conducted that revealed Stanley couldn’t have stolen it as he had an alibi. Zero confessed to stealing it. For the first time in a hundred years, a drop of rain fell.

The AG closed Camp Green Lake. In a few years, it will become Camp Green Lake. End of Story. There were sparkling jewels in the briefcase. However, they won’t worth a lot. The briefcase also contained stock certificates, deeds of trust, promissory notes etc. They were worth more and Stanley and Zero walked away with a great deal of money. Stanley used the money to buy a new house and a laboratory. 1.5 years later, they had a party. Clyde had smelly feet and soon was advertising for Sploosh, the product that Stanley’s Dad invented. Clyde was invited to the party as well.

The End!


Be Unstoppable by Alden M. Mills

The 8 Essential Actions to Succeed at Anything.

This book is written for my children. I was an ex-Navy SEAL. I loved my work back then. Often, before missions, we would all write letters to our loved ones in case we would not end the mission alive. I want this book to be a pick-me-up kind of thing. This book will inspire you to go for your dreams. The 8 actions are UPERSIST. I used the metaphor of a captain and a ship to build the idea in your head. ‘YOUR LIFE IS UP TO YOU. YOU DECIDE WHAT KIND OF LIFE TO LIVE!’ Do not give up on a dream. Why do you want that dream to come true? Your mind can be your worst enemy. Let your mind work by your side and guide you to where you want to be in future. Live your dreams.

Everyone is given a boat in town, Uptoyou. You can upgrade your boat as you grow up, but you have only 1 boat. Everyone needs to go through hard work to make their boat work. Tim and Ted had similar upbringings but later on in life, Tim had to work harder. Ted made everything look easy. Tim kept his plans to himself. Tim loved the challenge of his job while Ted found his work to be boring and not great enough for what he was destined to be. Tim listened to advice from the older captains whereas Ted didn’t feel he needed any. Tim started beating Ted in racing but he didn’t tell anyone about it. Tim was given more difficult tasks by his boss and he loved the work. On the other hand, Ted felt resentful and jealous. Later, when on a new course, Tim started to panic as he was in unchartered waters. Captain Bill came to Tim’s rescue when his boat stalled. Ted and his friends teased Tim over his incompetence. Later, Tim saw the move magnificent ship that passed him. It was labelled ‘Persistence’. The ship’s captain started talking to Tim. They agreed to meet and have dinner together. Peter admitted that he used to have the same boat as Tim. Peter allowed Tim to tour his magnificent ship. Captain Peter definitely spent a lifetime improving his ship. Peter revealed that he ran aground many times before finally mustering the courage to leave the bay. Later, a man at the Shack embraced Peter. It was Jack, the owner of the clam shack. Peter was in town because he wanted to improve his ship. Peter explained that Jack loved his job and that his passion was infectious. Peter called himself a master and commander, someone who chartered his own path in life. Many people want to be a master and commander, but few succeed. Peter gave some advice Is it a nice to have or must have? Sacrifice is definitely a must. Tim went back to think through it and see whether he would really want the code.

The most important thing about running aground is making sure you understand why you ran aground. When you understand the ‘why’, then you’ll figure out the ‘way’ not to do it again – at least on that particular portion of your course. – Captain Peter

You won’t lose all of your friends, just the ones that aren’t your true friends. You’ll be quite lonely a bit, you’ll feel lost, get scared, be bone tired, doubt yourself. You might even cry yourself to sleep once or twice. You’ll fail many more times than you’ll ever succeed, and sometimes you won’t even know when you’ve succeeded. The code isn’t for everyone though. – Captain Peter

Understand the Why. Tim couldn’t figure out what he wanted to sacrifice or give up. What if your work could make a difference? What if you have a purpose? Chart your own course and do not help others fulfil their dreams. Peter was scuba diving to check on the new propellers that were installed on the ship. Learn to trust and verify. Peter was in extremely good shape and was very energetic. Not everyone is willing to work hard to get stuff done. Peter said he wanted to live purposefully and be able to chart his own course in life. It was all courage having the courage to follow your own courses. Dream the things you want to dream about. Peter advised Peter to learn to dream big. Our brain is always filled with limitations already and it is hard to overcome them. You must learn to dream big. Everyone has two limitations in life, your ability to dream and the ability to pursue those dreams. You decide what your limitations are. Ask ‘What If’ questions. Understand the why. Make your time count. Time is the only thing you have. Understand your true ‘why!’ You must find a ‘why’ to die for. Sacrifice everything to go for your dream. If you don’t have a strong enough reason, you will fumble. When the going gets tough, you will start to question your purpose, whether the sacrifice is worth it etc. This is when you will need a strong why. Don’t venture out if you do not know your why. In life, everything is up to you. You are the master of your fate. Achieve pebble goals first. Create an outcome account. On the left, list down the (+) of your goal and on your right the (-) if you were not be able to achieve your goal. The Outcome account will make you unstoppable. For example, for a Navy Seal a (+) could be: I would do things few people in the country ever get to do; for a (-), it could be: It would mean I had failed at something I believed I could do.

The problem is most people don’t allow themselves time to dream. They don’t ask the ‘what’ questions. Great dreams come from great questions. The better the questions, the more exciting the dreams! – Captain Peter

Most people think they know why they want to do something, but they give up before they accomplish their dream. – Captain Peter

Plan in 3 Dimensions. A lot of people do not plan and they just dive head in. Peter said he used to that when he was young until his boat ran out of gas half-way. Learn from your failures and recover from them. It’s a lesson learned. Embrace your FAILURES. The only failures are the ones you learn nothing from. Failing is a part and parcel of life. Having a plan will show you what works and what doesn’t. There will be no one to guide you. A linear plan wouldn’t work at sea. You need to consider all possibilities and have a contingency plan. However, your plan is not fool-proof and has to be edited along the way. Planning helps prepare you for the unexpected. Fortune favors the prepared. Planning is the key for mission success in the Navy. Not planning will cause you to lose your life. Define your goal and write it down and read it every day. Divide your goal. Do it daily. ‘What action can I take towards my goal today?’ Passion can only take you so far. You need to find the purpose in life. The key for success is always to do your best at the next task at hand. Focus on your daily progress. Make progress and work on your goal every day. ‘Do it daily’.

To prepare, one must first plan. The better you plan, the better you can prepare; the better you prepare, the better your chances of success. – Captain Peter

Exercise to Execute. The main reason why plans don’t work is because they have not been tested. Your body obeys your brain. Every action is something which you can control. The problem is that most people neglect their bodies. If you do not exercise, your body will not listen to your brain. Exercise builds stamina and concentration, which you will need to fuel your goal. Exercise is one of your best mechanisms to prevent yourself from giving up. The fitter you are, the harder you can work to make your plan a reality. The second part of it is to do it DAILY. Get your heart pumping. It works. Exercise is like a miracle drug and it will also make you more attractive. This will be your secret weapon. It keeps your brain focussed and your attitude positive. Push ups also work out different muscles in your body. You can also do it anytime and anywhere. Exercise produces dopamine. When you get stuck at work, go exercise!

Exercise can help keep you going when you feel like giving up. I consider exercise part of executing a plan. I do it first thing every morning. It stokes my engine all day as I tackle the intricacies of executing my plans. – Captain Peter

No one has the time to exercise unless they make it a priority! – Captain Peter

I’ve found push-ups to be the single best exercise when I don’t have time for a row or run. Push-ups engage all the major muscle groups, and you can do them anytime, anywhere. In fact, I use them to help me to stay awake when I’m on watch late at night. – Captain Peter

Recognize Your Reason to Believe. Belief in yourself. Have confidence. Peter pulled out a stone which was smooth on one end and had the word ‘Kanji’ on it. It read ‘Before you can achieve, you must first believe.’ It was the relentless flow of a river that smoothens a stone. You must be like a river and continuously believe in yourself. Your small wins will give you the confidence required. Exercise can you the confidence you need to believe in yourself. Take control of your body first. Our beliefs have a huge impact on our actions. When you don’t have belief, you won’t succeed because you won’t be motivated to take action. What you believe can impact what you or cannot do. With belief you can be unstoppable. Never stop believing. Jacques was a brilliant chef. He was a perfectionist. With belief, you will never give up. Peter named his ship Persistence. Success comes from building the correct habits. You must make your goal visible. Persistence helped me endure through my Navy SEAL life. Focus on something which you belief that is absolutely true. Start from yourself.

Take control of your body and you’ll take control of your life. – Captain Peter

The more you believe in yourself, the harder you’ll try and, when that happens, you’ll learn there’s nothing you can’t do. – Captain Peter

Survey Your Habits. Identify the obstacles that are hindering you. Then modify them so that they won’t get in your way. For instance, these could be bad habits which you have. Bad habits can be re-programmed. For instance, Peter learnt to latch a hatch every time he went through it after learning from his previous mistakes. ‘The mother of perfection is repetition.’ Famous saying. If you have a bad habit, you need to keep correcting it and repeating the correct again. Build a habit of welcoming and facing adversity. Adversity is the best teacher around. Have the never stop learning attitude. Riding out a storm gives you a sense of accomplishment. Learn from adversity. Keep your mind open to new things. The most challenging tasks only happen in your mind and depends on your mindset. Having a positive mind set is very crucial. Be careful of unhealthy habits like drinking, smoking etc. Face your problems and be responsible for your actions. In SEAL training, Pool Comp was super tough and one needed to stay calm as the oxygen mask will be removed from you as part of the test for a short while. Keep practising until it doesn’t seem familiar to you anymore. Your actions when you were short of breath will determine whether you succeed or not. Training will teach you to think under pressure. Practise ACT – Aware, Concentrate, Take Control. Everything is up to you.

Improvise to Overcome Obstacles. Peter introduced the guy running the ship to Tim. He was Robert. Robert invented a new battery system. Peter actually thought of giving up on a battery system as he encountered multiple failures. He was not an engineer and a lot of money was spent on fixing the system. In the end, this project was handed over to Robert and Peter gave him moral support. Robert was motivated because he wanted the chance to help the crew of Persistence. You need to understand the ‘how’ as well. Robert had to experiment and create multiple prototypes before the breakthrough. Implement and adapt. NEGU – Never Ever Give Up. Sometimes, there will be a need to be flexible and to improvise. Never be satisfied and always look for ways to improve. Peter actually thought his chef, Jacques, and Robert the code as well. There is a place in this world for everyone. Don’t treat people as a servant. Rather, you want people to work for you. Improvising means doing things differently. In the Navy, not taking action can actually kill someone. Through a mistake, you will learn another way not to Do Something. The obstacles are there to stop the other people.

Implement an action, adapt to the result, and repeat until you’ve overcome the obstacle. Be like a river and find your path over, under, around, or through – always keep trying and don’t stop flowing. Your success will come from your ability to keep trying. – Captain Peter

You need a crew that’s great at everything you’re not good at, and you need to leave your ego on the pier and be open to accepting that you will not always have the right answer. You’ll need to learn to trust your crew. Then a funny thing will happen. – Captain Peter

Improvising is a habit like exercising and planning, and it takes time and practice to make it a habit. The ability to improvise is not a talent that you’re born with; it’s a mindset that you create for yourself… – Captain Peter

‘The scary thing about improvising is that you have no idea how your idea will turn out. That’s okay, no one does. But if you don’t try to improvise, your results are guaranteed: Nothing. – Captain Peter

Seek Expert Advice. 1) Understand that you will never be great at everything; 2) Understand your strengths and weaknesses; 3) Find people who are good at covering for your weaknesses. Turn your liabilities into strengths by seeking advice. Learn from those who have gone before you. Arrogance kills and please try to learn from others. Look for people who can help you on your goal. Put your pride aside.

Team Up! Peter would be giving Tim a final exam to see if he understood the code completely. Action 8 is about choosing tough challenges which will eventually reap benefits. The tougher it is, the more rewarding it will be. You need a team. It’s a never ending cycle as you groom your new team. Press on. NEGU. Learn how to overcome your obstacles. 1) Understand the why, and you’ll figure out the way; 2) Plan in 3 dimensions; 3) Exercise to execute; 4) Recognize your reason to believe; 5) Survey your habits; 6) Improvise to overcome any obstacle; 7) Seek expert advice; 8) Team Up. Your ‘Why’ is the most crucial if you want others to join you on this.


My random musings 26 to 50

  1. It’s kinda sad reading books on Psychology, esp on how the mind works and makes decisions. There are so many heuristics and biases that the human mind is susceptible to.
  2. Thanks everyone for the sweet bday wishes! 🙂 Really appreciate it. Tt’s time to do some reflection on the past year, which has been great on so many levels. character and skills development; visiting new places; self-discovery; helping the less fortunate; catching up with old friends; making a fair share of new friends; drinking etc. still, something is missing from the jigsaw. What could be the missing piece? Guess humans are not easily satisfied.
  3. Throughout my audit career, the overall goal was always to be a better auditor than I was at that moment – whether next week, next month or next year (unrealistic to look so far ahead). The improvement was the goal. The promotion every year was simply a reward for achieving that goal. Easier said than done though.
  4. Happened to talk to a blogshop owner who was promoting her range of clothes in a bar. She attempted a guess on what I was doing and figured I was still studying in Uni. Was pleasantly surprised.
  5. Just met some interns joining my dept during a networking session who are still undergraduates. Spoke to some of them and realised they don’t know what kind of career they want to pursue. Then it struck me, 3 years ago, I was just as a noob as them! (don’t know whether im still a noob) I can relate to that. That’s normal. I think people develop tastes more as they mature. I mean… not everyone is like Warren Buffett who knew what he wanted as a kid.
  6. You know auditors have a tough life when the bar is full but the table I reserved for my colleagues is empty. Tough times never last, but tough men do. Respect! Tough!
  7. My convo with a designer today: Me: you have interesting female accessories. Do you sell through a blogshop or something? She: yes, I have a blogshop. (she proceeds to hand me a card. The card states: Me: who’s that? She: It’s me (giggles). What an epic fail moment.
  8. Was listening to a talk by Lee Guan Wei (the founder of the Orchestra of Music Makers) today about what inspired him to start a youth orchestra. Some of the ticket sales gets donated to charity. The key takeaway was what he said about making use of your unique skills, not letting it go to waste and trying your best to benefit others and the community with them. Well said! Hopefully someday I will be able to achieve that too.
  9. Female facilitator to me during the SG conversations today: it’s good to see that you are so curious. You ask so many questions! Are you interested in policy making as well?
  10. Attended my first ever Singapore Conversations on lifelong learning today. It was certainly an eye opening experience listening to Singaporeans from all walks of life voice their opinions on what lifelong learning means to them. A few elderly people also raised the point that they were willing to learn skills so as to stay relevant and employable. Many also shared that lifelong learning is not just about picking up skills for career advancement, but also for personal development and the desire to make a difference in society. Heartening.
  11. Finally visited Tuas for an APB tour. Haha. Fascinated by what the heavy vehicles are carrying. Cement, heavy machinery, sand, nitrogen tanks, construction material, scrap metal etc. And got to take a non air-con bus! First time in 10 years I think.
  12. Maybe I should stop reading about reading about inspirational people like Steve Jobs. He’s a guy with really huge dreams, lives in a distorted reality, and wants to put a dent in the Universe. He eventually succeeded through Apple Inc. While reading, I become inspired temporarily as well. But the moment you take a break from reading, reality hits you in the arse. I mean I won’t try to emulate him. But still, Ouch.
  13. I was never exposed to the piano when I was young. My fingers are stiff now. But I was exposed to reading, and that’s the next best thing. Am very grateful for my parents for that. Reading, to me, requires a deep level of concentration. (esp when you try to imagine the books scenes in your head) IMO, it’s much more difficult than watching a movie. But maybe that’s why I like it!
  14. I learnt in economics that haze is a negative externality. (affecting others without bearing any cost). I also see many people complaining about the haze on fb. What can SG do about it? Indo is part is ASEAN and has a population of 40 times our country. If you try imposing a fine on them, they could just impose economic sanctions on us and Sg will be screwed. Do you want to use SG taxpayers money to fund their forest logging instead of burning? Bad idea. Haha. It’s just like how Japan tries its best not to offend China. Or how Apple used its financial muscle to buy Xerox’s GUI idea and adopt it for the iOS. The big boys win. That’s life. Suck it up.
  15. Accidentally eavesdropped (not intentionally btw) on a conversation between 2 girls at Tanuki Raw. One girl mentioned to the other: ‘Are you off-cycle?’ Rofl! Left me confused on what cycle meant.
  16. Tried the n95 mask today. Every time I exhaled while wearing the mask felt like I was blowing on the surface of hot milk tea, causing steam to fill my mouth/nose area. Super warm. For the first 10min, it seemed fun.
  17. I think it is normal to wait for friends. Haha. But I think everyone should have their cutoff timing (like cutoff testing in audit). Lol. I always weigh the pros and cons between waiting or just going myself first. Tough!
  18. Lesson 5: Drinking to get much needed inspiration for drawing. Jk. I skipped drawing class.
  19. I finally understand the power of noise isolating in-ear phones with a good ear fit. One can get them for about 20 to 30 dollars only. It helped me a great deal recently, esp when I was at a club where I didn’t appreciate the music; and when an indie band (Electrico) played great live music, but just that the volume was deafening.
  20. Thanks for the bday wishes! To my colleagues: thanks for being so awesome! This is one of my happiest days in the firm. Someday, I hope to repay you guys. To my family, friends, acquaintances (and strangers), many thanks for your sweet bday wishes! Appreciate them. Strangely, I feel happier and wiser this year. Guess it’s because of all the biographies I read. Warren Buffett, LKY, Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela, Richard Branson etc. Research has shown that older people are happier because they are wiser. Lol. With time, I hope you peeps feel the same too!
  21. Lessons I learnt from Kenny Leck (owner of BooksActually): it is better to buy rather than rent. Business requires a high level of commitment, but do not risk everything you have. Do not give up too quickly. Do something you like, so that even if you fail, you won’t look back with regret. Time is precious and can’t be replenished, so do something that you passionate about. Maintain good relations with your business contacts and people you meet as you never know when they will come in handy. Be accountable for your actions. Business is like gambling, you can take calculated risks, but some times are hard to predict. The operational aspects are crucial in business.
  22. Just attended an NBS networking event. A female undergrad just asked me whether I had any regrets after joining audit for 2 years. Lol. I replied ‘No? None so far?’ haha. Right back at ya.
  23. Final art lesson: can’t sign off on financial statements but can sign off on my art piece lol.
  24. If you like my facebook posts (it doesn’t matter whether by accident or not), I will try to make it a point to visit your FB wall and similarly, like some of your posts too. Reciprocation. Tit-for-tat.
  25. Craving: knowledge and self-improvement. Cue: new book in Kindle. Routine: reading the book. Reward: improved knowledge; summarizing key principles of the book and sharing quotes with others! Repeat cycle. Reading is now a habit.


Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

I (Margaret Simon) was moving to New Jersey and was anxious about my new school. I was a few months to being 12 years old. It turns out that my parents didn’t consult me when they bought a house at New Jersey. We moved because of grandma, Sylvia Simon. She was really nice and warm towards me. My family had enough to get by. I didn’t have any siblings to play with. Grandma liked to ask me about whether I had Jewish boyfriends. I found it puzzling. I wouldn’t be seeing grandma as much nowadays.

A girl knocked on my door in her bathing suit. She was Nancy Wheeler and was in 6th grade as well. Mum allowed me to play in the sprinklers with her. Nancy lived 6 houses away. I visited her house now. It was extremely neat and I was impressed with it. We would be in the same class. I was still flat. Nancy was undergoing puberty. Nancy practised kissing. Neither Nancy nor I kissed a boy before. Nancy was already experimenting with make-up at her age. Later, I was introduced to Nancy’s mum, Mrs Wheeler. Evan was 14 years old. He was Nancy’s brother. Evan was only interested in naked girls and dirty books. Moose and Evan were out on the lawn. Moose offered to cut my lawn for a small fee. Nancy educated me on what to wear on the first day and told me about some secret club where I could join. My dad loved gardening and would trim the garden himself. I started talking to God. I wanted to grow up quickly and be like Nancy. My parents didn’t know that I talked to God. God belonged to everybody.

Don’t you think it’s time for me to start growing God? If you could arrange it I’d be very glad. Thank you. – Margaret

My dad bought a lawn-mower. My dad got injured while mowing and was bleeding. Later, an ambulance came. I hoped his hand would be alright. Dr Potter had a daughter, Gretchen, who would be entering the same school as me. My dad’s hand needed stitching and we enrolled the services of Moose. Grandma came to pay my family a visit. She brought food along too. She took a bus to New Jersey and then cabbed to my house. My dad and mum were Herb and Barbara respectively. They were surprised that grandma could make it here from New York. Grandma missed me and wanted to call me every night. Grandma knitted me a new sweater. Later, she left.

It was my first day of school. My mum encouraged me to wear socks. However, Nancy didn’t want me wearing socks. She wanted to correct my posture now. My mum loved to nag and I hated it sometimes. Some of the girls in class had already started wearing bras. A man entered the class. He introduced himself as ‘Miles J. Benedict Jr’. He was our new teacher. We had to fill up an introduction of ourselves for our first exercise in class. Later, after school, I headed to Nancy’s to join her secret club.

Janie, Gretchen were the other girls at Nancy’s. Nancy warned me to stay away from Laura at school. None of the girls in the room had our periods yet. Janie and Gretchen thought Mr Miles as being cute. We named our club ‘four PTSs’. PTS would be Pre-teen sensations. Nobody would know of our club and it would strictly be kept a secret. We had to each keep a boy book and wear bras. Gretchen had to attend Hebrew school. I didn’t have a religion unlike the rest because my dad was Jewish and my mum was a Christian. Mondays would be our meeting days. I was either supposed to go to the Y or Jewish Community Centre even though I had no religion. It was weird.

Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret…Please help me grow God. You know where. I want to be like everyone else. – Margaret

Mr Benedict asked me why I hated religious holidays. I told him it was because I didn’t have any religion. I liked Moose actually. Later, my parents brought me to a lingerie store to try a bra. The salesgirl wanted to measure me. She suggested a Gro-Bra for me. It was one that would grow with me. I was too small for a AA. I stripped and my mum started putting on bras for me. We bought three bras in the end. It was an embarrassing moment for me.

Later, I stopped wearing socks as I thought it would be more hip. Mr Benedict gave us all projects to do but we could decide the topic. Nancy didn’t get a Gro-Bra. She got the 32 AA. Nancy suggested that we needed to exercise to get out of the Gro-Bra size. She suggested a method for us to increase our bust-size. The boys, Evan and Moose, heard us and laughed continuously. Some of the students in class started playing peep and it was very annoying indeed. I did my bust exercise before I headed to bed. Also, I studied for the upcoming social studies test. We all decided not to leave a name after completing the paper.

I scored a very respectable 98 for the test. I wanted to do a project on religion as I didn’t know what else to write about. Later I visited New York and grandma. I headed to a concert with her. Later, I was curious and told her I wanted to visit a Jewish temple. It was not because I was interested but I was just being curious. My parents didn’t know about it. She claimed that I was too young to know what I wanted yet. It would be a secret. It was time to look for God.

Later the Rabbi appeared in the temple. We had to stand and recite from a prayer book. My grandma introduced the Rabbi to me. I admitted that I loved the service. I knew that I needed more time to decide on a religion which I particularly liked.

Laura looked great in a sweater once again. Janie and I also visited church once together after we became quite close to one another. It was like temple, but everything was in English. I didn’t feel at God at all and I know that I should try harder next time. 2 weeks later, our gang started to dance together. I secretly wanted to dance with Philip Leroy during the class. Mr Benedict wanted us to enjoy ourselves thoroughly. Luckily, I managed to dance with Leroy and my hands were all clammy with sweat after the whole dance.

For Janie, Gretchen and I, Philip Leroy was the best guy around.  Janie tried to imagine Leroy without his shirt on. We were reading a book on the male reproductive system. Janie was exposed to nudity as her dad and bro walked around the house naked. Nancy said that in future, girls were attention seeking and wanted people to look at them. I know my dad had a copy of Playboy and I went to find it. We flipped through it and saw a naked girl posing at only age 18. However, her bust was so big that it looked out of proportion. We all wanted to increase our bust.

Grandma went on a three week cruise and my mum gave her a green silk box. Grandma wanted to give me a lot of stuff when she passed away. Later, my mother started sending Christmas cards. One day, I spotted her sending to Mr and Mrs Paul Hutchins, who were her parents. Our class was selected to participate in the choir and we learnt some Christmas songs. There was a guy from class that didn’t sing because it was against his religion. He obtained a letter from his home in order to succeed. So far, I still didn’t know which religion I wanted. I was involved in the choir too.

Later, I received a letter and collected it at home. It was an invitation to a party. It was from Norman Fishbein and I was instantly compelled to go even though he hardly talked to me in class. My mum allowed me to go. Janie, Gretchen and Nancy were all invited for the party as well. Later, we realized that the whole class was invited. I would wear my velvet dress that evening. I dressed up well and was ready to party. Later, when I looked in the mirror, I saw some hairs. However, I was still flat and unhappy. Instinctively, I grabbed cotton balls and shoved them in my bra. Now, it looked like I had grown. I thanked God and promised to do good things.

We squeezed at the back of Wheeler’s car and were headed to the party. Janie even had her hair trimmed before the party. Finally, we were in the Fishbein’s household. Most of my classmates had already reached and were equally well dressed. Philip Leroy started spraying mustard on the ceiling and was extremely childish. Mrs Fishbein served us cupcakes in different colors. Freddy was an idiot and he tore off Nancy’s dress pocket. Norman suggested lame games for us to play and they involved male-female interaction. Later, we would play spin the glass bottle. If the glass bottle pointed at you when it landed, you would need to kiss the person beside you. Gretchen got her crush Philip Leroy. Norman still had other stupid games for us to play. My number was called. Philip would have to kiss me in the bathroom. He told me to stop laughing and later kissed me on my lips. Later, it was my turn to call a number and I called Norman Fishbein. Norman kissed me on the cheek in the bathroom. According to Nancy, fate brought Leroy and me together.

I went for Christmas Eve services with the Wheelers. It was at the United Methodist Church of Farbrook. I enjoyed most of the service. However, I didn’t really feel God. There was no hint from above as to what religion should I pursue. Grandma called to check on me. On Friday, all the girls would have to watch a show on ‘What Every Girl Should Know’. It was about menstruation, which I already knew. The show just portrayed it to be a painless activity which was very natural. The booklet handed out recommended a sanitary supplies brand for us to use. One week later, Gretchen had it. Her mum ran to the drugstore to order some pads. This was my story. Her mum warned her that it may not be regular immediately. I worried and wanted to have it before I was 14. I was worried that I would be an abnormal child. Nancy got hers like only 3 days later. I was deeply worried with myself. I wanted God to help me with my discovering of religion and for me to start my menstrual cycle soon.

Mostly I don’t feel anything. Sometimes it feels like it’s dripping. It doesn’t hurt coming out – but I had some cramps last night, lower down and across my back. – Gretchen

I missed Grandma and wrote to her. Life in Florida was still alright. She was writing to my mum and dad as she wanted to stay with me during the spring vacation. She advised me to dress warmly to avoid falling sick. It seemed like Mr Binamin, a widower, and her had something in common.

Moose, Evan and I were visiting Nancy and her family in New York. After lunch, I heard Nancy moaning and then subsequently crying. She ordered me to get her mother. Her mum came but Nancy mentioned that she couldn’t unlock the door. Nancy was menstruating and I was requested to help her get a sanitary napkin. It was her first time. Nancy lied about having it a few days ago! Nancy was actually a liar! She made me swear not to tell the other girls about the fact that she lied so blatantly. I enjoyed being around Moose. I prayed to God again but I was more patient this time. I definitely didn’t want to lie to my friends.

I was 12 now and used the roll-on deodorant. Grandma made sweaters for me and sent me a $100 savings bond every year without fail. She also bought me a round trip air ticket to Florida. Nancy, Janie and Gretchen bought me a Mice Men record album. Mr Benedict didn’t want those who already knew each other to work on the same school project. So we couldn’t work together. I was paired with Norman, Philip Leroy and Laura. I hated talking to Laura as she was big and beautiful. My birthday felt rather rotten. I was sick of school now.

My group had to research on Belgium for 3 weeks. Philip didn’t do much work and often fooled around. Norman was a slow but willing worker. Laura was a good worker. Laura and I had an argument in the library. I mentioned to her that I heard her A&P story with Evan and Moose She denied all of that and called me a filthy liar and a little pig! It was then that I realized that maybe Nancy made the story up. Laura said she felt disgusted that people picked on her because she was big. She admitted that she was being teased in school since 4th grade because she had to already wear a bra then. Later, Laura headed to the church. I stepped into the church as well. Later, I bumped into the priest and quickly ran out of the church. I prayed again but there was no sign of God.

A letter came from Mary and Paul Hutchins, my other grandparents. They had disowned my mum when young. My dad was angry with mum for giving them our address I stomped out as I absolutely detested how mum and dad argued in front of me. They wanted to visit my parents after 14 years. My dad was pissed by the letter. However, their visit would clash with my trip to Florida and my parents didn’t want me to head to Florida. I started crying as I knew I couldn’t visit Grandma. Everything wasn’t working out now. God wasn’t fair and I still wanted to head to Florida.

Mum wanted me to cheer up. Mum couldn’t forgive her parents though. She told me that 14 years they made the decision and had belief it in when doing so. I finally got to meet them. They seemed alright. The initial exchanges were plain awkward. Grandmother was surprised that I didn’t go to Sunday school nor have a religion. To her, I needed to have one. My parents were nice and allowed me to choose a religion when I was older. Grandma was very persistent on me being Christian. I was pissed at having to listen to this conversation.

Especially for Margaret’s sake. A person’s got to have religion. – Grandmother

Nonsense! A person doesn’t choose religion. A person’s born to it! – Grandmother

I just can’t stand another minute of listening to you. Who needs religion? Who! Not me… I don’t need it. I don’t even need God! – Margaret

I didn’t want to talk to God now. Later, I went to watch a movie with Janie. We entered a drug store to look at the sanitary napkins. Janie suggested that I buy some for standby purposes. I paid the cash and brought the sanitary napkins home. It was the ‘Teenage Softies’ brand. I tried the pads on to see how they would feel. Thankfully, mum didn’t find out about it. My grandparents would be moving on to New York. However, my vacation plans to Florida were still ruined.

Later, I was pleasantly surprised to see Grandma come visit me instead. The man with him was Mr Morris Binamin. Grandma now said that I was a Jewish girl but I told her I didn’t believe in God at all and that it didn’t matter at all.

Sometimes Grandma is almost as bad as everybody else. As long as she loves me and I love her, what difference does religion make? – Margaret

I wrote to Mr Benedict about my year-long project on religion. I didn’t come up with any conclusions at the end. I felt I was too late to learn about it.

6th grade was over. We had a party and gave Mr Benedict a gift. I spoke to Moose when he was mowing my lawn. It turns out that he didn’t take Laura behind the A&P. They were all rumours spread by Nancy. Finally, I got my period as I saw my underpants were finally stained. I was growing and was finally a woman!