Wasting time by wasting time

Am in a bit of a funk at the moment. There isn’t much going on at work and thus I”m feeling underutilized. Not an uncommon situation, in fact I found out that two of my friends are also in a similar situation.

wastingtime

I think that working by yourself or in a situation where you’re pretty much working by yourself contributes to this feeling of malaise. Other factors include working for a lousy boss. A boss that doesn’t know how to motivate you, someone who’s looking out for himself instead of realizing that helping you reach your potential is part of his job scope and that by doing so he’s helping himself in the long-run.

Add to the mix the reluctance to admit that your work is meaningless/unfulfilling.

The reality is that for most people work is a drudgery. The extent which is a drudgery is debatable but I’d put forward the case that this is the norm as opposed to the exception. The real exception to the rule are people who enjoy they work. And have good bosses.

You know the saying that good employees are hard to find and if you find one, hang onto them? Well I think that the converse is also true, ie that a good employer or boss is hard to find and if you find one, hang on for dear life! But this presupposed that you are also someone worth keeping. Even good bosses I’m sure don’t want useless hanger ons…

So I’ll add another resolution to my ever-growing list of resolutions: to be the kind of employee that someone would want to hang onto. But first I need to get off my butt and do some work instead of blogging! :p

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Pretty please

Being a parent brings a whole new perspective into your relationship with God.

It suddenly struck me today as I was contemplating how we teach our children to say please. When they get it that they should say please, it pleases me. Then they start using it like a magic wand or a lamp and that irritates me. You know, when kids just keep saying please, please, please non-stop?

Well that made me realize that perhaps that was the way that I treated my Heavenly Father sometimes (ok, maybe more often than sometimes!).

I thought to myself, perhaps the way that I approach prayer is the way that my first child uses the word “please”. I.e. in all my approaches to God I have been guilty at times of being less concerned with just being with Him (ref. the Mary vs Martha dichotomy, perhaps a subject for another day?) than getting something out of Him.

I was looking for something, anything that would let me get what I wanted as opposed to asking God what I needed.

To further compound the problem, God often says no. Like my child, I don’t understand my Father’s reasoning. Why yes sometimes and no sometimes? I can’t understand my Father’s thinking just like my child does not understand my thinking. My child has to learn to trust me, just like *sigh* I have to trust God.

But I take comfort in that the sovereignty of God is one of the hardest lesson to accept. Even Jesus prayed in Gethsemane and asked God if there was another way (apart from the cross) to save all mankind. Jesus did accept God’s will but it just goes to show that accepting the will of God, when it is not in accordance with what we want, is not easy.

So have you been “nagging” God or  surrendering to His will lately? 😉

Waiting for Arrandale

I wrote recently about the fact that I’m a recovering shopaholic.

I’d like to talk now about a couple of purchases I’ve deferred. Remembering your victories is encouraging and helps maintain your state of recovery. :p

1) iPhone

I’ve been lusting after the iPhone ever since they released the first one back in 2007 but I only got it this year. How I did I manage to stave off an early purchase? Well, I already had an iPod, actually I had two. A 30GB iPod Photo and a 1GB iPod Shuffle. So I promised myself that I’d only purchase the iPhone when it’s able to replace my existing 30GB iPod as opposed to being an addition to my iPod family. It helped that I knew capacities were doubling pretty much every year (extrapolated from the iPhone and iPod Touch’s track record). I also eBay-ed my old 30GB iPod to help defray the cost of the iPhone. 🙂

2) Xbox 360

I’m a bit of a gamer so I was tempted to get this. But as previously mentioned, I have a backlog of games. So I’ve decided that a couple of things will have to happen before I get this. Firstly, I’ll have to whittle down my PS3 and PC games backlog until it’s about 1-2 games only. Secondly, there must be a change in the form factor, e.g. Ps3 to PS3 Slim. So far I’m still waiting…

3) Big(ger) flat screen TV

I bought a 40 inch LCD TV but have since regretted not getting a larger TV. I just couldn’t stomach paying 30% more for 15% more inches. I should have gone for it. That’s another lesson, if you’re going to spend serious money, you might as well stretch (finances permitting!) and get what you really want.

I’ve promised myself in this instance not to replace or get an additional TV until we move house and even then only if the living room is bigger than the current one, thus necessitating a larger screen! 😉

4) Desktop PC

Whenever I use my desktop I tell myself that I need a new one. The current one is single core and less than 2GHz in processor speed. It seriously chugs! But the reality is that I hardly ever use it (am on the laptop 90% of the time). So there is no need for me to upgrade.

The triggers for this purchase are the release of Win7, and a move to a new house. Rationale about the house is that currently I don’t have a study, so once I get a new study I’d need a new desktop PC to fit it out no? 😉

One benefit of waiting is that if I’d bought earlier I’d only have been able to afford a fast dual core or maybe a quad core, but now if I continue waiting an i7 is not out of the question. :p

5) Laptop

Since losing my job I’ve been reluctant to make any major capital purchases, which is why I upgraded the RAM on my MacBook to 2GB and bought Parallels instead of getting new machine(s). The MacBook is a bit slow with Parallels, perhaps because it’s only a Core Duo not Core 2 Duo.

Despite the occasional slowdown, I’ve held off purchasing a new MacBook Pro thanks to this article I read in I read in AnandTech back in June 2009. I’m waiting for Core i7 Mobile to come out for the Mac! (This is also calld Arrandale hence the title of this post)

With the new lithium polymer batteries and the more efficient Core i7 Mobile chips, the battery life should be amazing! Performance-wise it should be no slouch as well (see this review of Core i7 laptops by Laptop magazine).

Is there any purchase you’re deferring and what are the reasons for the deferment and what are you telling yourself so that you remain patient?

Confessions of a shopaholic

Hi, my name is Awry and I’m a shopaholic.

It’s been 4 days since my last purchase…

Yes, it’s possible to be a shopaholic even if you are male and a bit nerdy.

You don’t need to go to the mall to be a shopaholic, with the internet nowadays all you need to go shopping is a web browser.

My favorite malls are on-line, e.g. Amazon.com, Play-Asia.com, etc

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I would let others tell me what I needed to buy. Women let fashion and other girls tell them what to buy and wear. I let game magazines and websites dictate to me what games to buy and hoard. Top ten lists and Editor Choices dominated my mind.

You might wonder why I said hoard, well that’s because the net result of buying lots of games and not having too much time is having a stack of new or (gasp!) unopened games gathering dust by the wayside.

It’s been hard but I feel that God has been working in my life to curb the urge to accumulate.

First my partner nagged at me to stop buying things.

Then I lost my job.

Then I started to unpack my boxes (our family tended to move a lot) and came across games from 2005 which were unopened much less played. Games like FFVIII, Freespace 2, etc.

I realized that my spreadsheet of games and weekly visits to malls (virtual and real) was unhealthy.

Instead of being a joy, gaming started to become an obligation (to finish the backlog of games).

So I made a commitment to myself not to purchase any new games until I finish off my backlog. It’s been pretty good so far. There have been lapses, e.g. Batman: Arkham Asylum. But I console myself with the fact that I have either traded in my old games for the new ones, or completed these new purchases with haste (as opposed to letting it gather dust).

This has also applied to other purchases in my life. I’m adopting a “good enough” policy, ie unless there’s a compelling reason, I’ll wait as long as I can before replacing or upgrading the gadgets in my life.

I hope that those of you who are buying more than you need ask yourselves whether you’re purchasing because you want to or because you are compelled to. Because once it becomes an addiction, it’s no longer healthy… it’s not so bad so long as you can afford it but if you hit financial difficulties…


The meaning of life

I believe that deep down inside most people want meaning in their lives. The search for meaning may be conscious or unconscious.

For example if you live a blessed life, you’ll probably unconsciously derive meaning from whatever activities and blessings fill your life.

However if you’ve had a hard life, you’ve probably become more introspective and your search for meaning would be more of a conscious effort and you’ve probably sieved through various things, trying to find what give you the greatest fulfillment.

According to a book by Keith Thomas, The Ends of Life: Roads to Fulfillment in Early Modern England (which was reviewed by Michael Dirda in the AFR) there are six areas which traditionally supplied aims for purpose-driven lives:

  • military prowess
  • work and vocation
  • wealth and possessions
  • honour and reputation
  • friendship and sociability
  • fame and the afterlife

The book mentions how each of these areas waxed and vaned in popularity through the ages.

In our age people are starting to realize that the pursuit of self-happiness is not the panacea that it was made out to be. Nowadays only economist believe in the invisible hand as described by Adam Smith (interestingly most economist neglect to mention that Adam Smith presupposes an ethical society..).

wallstreet460I believe that movies like Wall Street, or even worse, realities such as the sub-prime crisis and dictators in Africa shows abundantly that when people act in their self-interest without moral restraints that the result is not in the increase of wealth of nations but of special interest groups.

As for me, I believe the ultimate meaning in life is through fulfilling the ultimate purpose which, as the writer of Ecclesiastes said, is to “fear God and keep his commandments.

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