Thursday, March 05, 2015

Epic Long Walk

Who knew that it'd be 
To walk from Harbourfront
to Kent Ridge?

Climbed Mt Faber 
Crossed Henderson Waves
and Alexandra Archs
Stunning views, looking from treetops

Then there was Hortpark
Cleverly horticulture and park
A swing, a colourful playground, and
Green houses that were boomz

It led us to a
but impressive 
Canopy Walk
Overlooking a nursery
At Kent Ridge Park

Ended at Science Park 1
When we saw office folks
A return to civilisation of sorts

We went to Botak Jones for lunch
At Clementi
And watched the world go by
at the void decks of HDBs

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Resisting the Urge to Text

My name is Jason and I think I'm addicted to texting.

It's not a serious. I'm sure I'm far from the only one who is! It's hard to escape when there are chat-apps like WhatsApp, Line, Snapchat and GChat, and then there are those with chat functions like facebook and Tinder.

The reason that they are there is because we can't get enough of texting. There's a need for us to connect instantly like a drug. At any time, I am able reach out to multiple people at once. So many brains, so many personalities, so many characters... find out what they're doing, what inspires them, what's on their mind. I text most when I'm travelling because, well, what else are you supposed to do right? But sometimes, even when we're out with our family and friends, we're texting to find out how other people are doing! It's an addiction, and for many of us, a form of escape from boredom, from being in the present.

So recently, I got to know this friend who touches his phone about 10 times a day. 10 times! His last seen on WhatsApp could be 8 hours ago. 8 hours! Compared to me, well, my last seen on WhatsApp is probably 2 minutes ago at any time of the day. He is a busy man, I get it, but if he's not on WhatsApp then how do his colleagues ask him for lunch? Or go to a meeting? Or give him work-related info? I was baffled. If I were to do that, I'd be crippled. I can't imagine living like that!

It then led me to wonder: What if I could? What if I could let go a little and resist the urge to touch my phone every second?

So, in an attempt to be more present, I've tossed my phone aside, put it out of reach. I've even switched it off for a couple of hours a day, which I found to be the most effective way of disconnecting. I focus on what I'm doing. I could be watching a TV show, writing or hanging out with a friend. With some effort, I stay away from my phone and after awhile, I forget it exists!

As with all cold turkey treatments, it's hard not to give in to the impulse. The most difficult time for me is when I'm by myself, and the need to feel connected is amplified. Some parts of me actually feel physical pain when my brain tells my hand not to reach for my phone.

It's been liberating. I no longer feel like I'm an answering machine. It's calming. I don't feel like I'm doing multiple things at once, all the time. I'm more focused. I get on with my tasks. They reap the feel-good-factor less instantly, but lasts way longer than the high of punching words on the phone. Oh, and that feeling of waiting for people to reply dies along with the desire to text. You don't measure your self-worth by the number of texts you receive or the number of people who text you. You learn to enjoy your own company, or that of people next to you, more.

Another thing is that if you text each other less, you'd have more to share when you meet up. And when the conversation flows, you wouldn't think of looking at the phone at all. When you resist the urge to text, you're in the moment, and when you enjoy the present, you won't feel the need to escape.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I've Moved to Punggol

The room is a bit of a mess but this is work-in-progress!

So, breaking news!

As of 5th January, I've moved to Punggol! Quite amused that some of you have offered to throw me a room-warming party. I'm just renting a room. Hold your horses - wait till I get my own apartment alright?

It's a huge step for me, and something I have wanted to do for awhile. I was apprehensive, of course. I second-guessed myself. Why not save up to own a place? Why rent? Why go through the trouble of moving? I've also had people asking me, "What's the rush? Why now?"

Well, I could feel age catching up with me. There was also the impending new year. I didn't want it to be empty talk, that 2015 would be different just because it's not 2014. If the new year is what we make it out to be - a fresh start, a chance to hit restart, a chance to build from scratch - then I shouldn't be conservative about what I could do. Just jump and have faith that I'd be able to handle whatever gets thrown in my way right?

There's also the longing of finally having a space to myself. I've been in Woodlands for 18 years (I'm sure most of you are sick of hearing me complain about how that's far from everywhere), sharing the room with my two brothers. It was about time I ventured from the nest and got a place of my own.

I went on EasyRoommate for a couple of months and one week I just told myself, "Ok this is it. Do it." I lined up six places that were within my budget, saw all of them in a day and settled on a pretty awesome place which was cosy and literally a stone's throw away from the Damai LRT.

Punggol is not the best place to travel to or from. I've had friends telling me I've moved to one another inaccessible corner. It is literally at the end of the north-east and to prove that point, there's even a place called Punggol End. However I was pleasantly surprised to find that with all the developments coming up, from new establishments to tonnes of new housing, it's really an up-and-coming neighbourhood, and an exciting place to be.

Now, I'm responsible for basic necessities, absolutely mundane things like shampoo and tissue paper. I've taken an interest in buying groceries, which is awesome because now I actually now how much a packet of seedless grapes or a bunch of bananas cost! My proudest moment was buying and fixing a standing fan for the room. It was pretty fool-proof but that's the first time I've had to do something like that.

I'm happy that I made the move, with the help, advice, encouragement and support from the people around me.

A million and one things could go wrong, and I feel vulnerable now that I am responsible for keeping a roof over my head. At the same time I've never been more serious about adult stuff, like my finances.

It's going to be a tough year with lots of uncertainty, but that makes me feel alive. As they say, nothing worth doing ever comes easy.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Letter from my Future Self

Dear Jason,

Great news! In the future, you're still the king of procrastination. This letter comes a month after Hendric and Jac (that's future Hendric and future Jac to you) wrote theirs. Hendric is still travelling the world, just that he has stopped piking. The missus gave him an ultimatum on that! As for Jac, she's currently on a project to convert what you know as the Logistics Hub to her personal walk-in wardrobe. She never stopped shopping.

First of all, you're still alive and even better - you're no longer afraid of death or more specifically, never existing ever again once you're gone. Morbid, I know. You think you'll never get used to the idea that you will never be you again but that's the fun part about being human. One day, you'll rest forever. Till then, you get to be alive! So spectacularly alive. There's much holding you back - fear, responsibility - and you, being you, crave adventure. There's no such thing as the right time. Go after what you want. Granted you're cautious and not that spontaneous, but strike a balance. You're a Libran after all.

Of course, as you make big changes to seek the lifestyle you want, be more prudent with your finances. You'll most certainly get where you need to be some day, just that it'd be great to live on more than oats and fruit daily but then again at my age, steak is too much trouble.

Eat all the steak while you can.

Good food does not whet your appetite as much as good conversation. And you can always count on friends for good conversation. But friendships are a little tricky. You appear easy to get along with. You've no problem getting friends. And then you turn out to be a little tricky to get along with. That costs you friends. You are fond of saying, "The door is closed but not locked." They are welcome to leave whenever they want. Guess that's a pretty good mantra. You could keep it. Those who accept you for who you are, and who know how to deal with your quirky behavior, will stay. They deserve better so treat them better. But if you don't, they're cool.

As for love, you never had a problem with that. (I mean, just look at us.)

Be less superficial.

Don't be afraid to spend more time with people older than you. Stop being intimidated by the fact that you don't know everything. Keep your need to be in control under control.

Think more long-term. Although that seems at odds with the search for adventure. Figure it out.

Be critical of how you spend your time and energy. Figure that out.

What you really want out of life would not be immediately present itself to you. Figure that out too.

You'll have one regret though, and that is not having written more. It doesn't matter if nobody cares, if nobody reads your words, if nobody follows your thoughts. At the end of the day, you will enjoy reading what you've written. It's most valuable thing that you'll own.Writing costs you nothing, except time and guts. There's a certain vulnerability in letting everyone see your thoughts, but it's also your greatest weapon - the ability to share, to inspire, to influence.

Sometimes it feels like work, and sometimes you do it for work. But as they say, do what you like and you'll never have to work a day in your life.

P.S. The Dauntless tattoo still looks as good.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

JKYH Top 50 of 2013

Excited to be doing this again after so long. It initially started out as a Top 40, and then I decided I needed to squeeze a couple of tracks in at the end. 

Distilling the pop industry's output for the year and picking out the 50 brightest gems once again, I present you the JKYH Top 50 of 2013.  

Check out the playlist on Spotify here:

#1 "Let's make this fleeting moment last forever..." This is one track that just refuses to let up, having been originally released last year, it got re-released earlier this year, with the strength of an army of DJs playing it in stadiums across the globe. This is what music is about, affecting people, regardless of time, regardless of background. What we want from music is to make us feel Alive and this track does just that. "I know what it feels like, c'mon make me feel Alive."

#2 I can't explain the appeal of this song. Generic female voice. Generally pleasant *tiutiutiu*. Pretty forumulaic. But nobody can help themselves from singing along, "If our love, is tragedy why are you my remedy? If our love, insanity why are you my clarity." Then there's that crazy crowd singing Ehhhhhhhhh and it just gets into dizzying highs before the beat drops and that moment you know that you've just been served perfection.

#3 For an entire generation, this must have been the first time they've heard of Daft Punk. I first heard of them 13 years ago when they stormed the UK Charts, arriving at the top with "One More Time". It's nice to see them back in such a huge way, and to hear Pharrell work his magic on this track, which is really nothing short of musical genius.

#4 No surprises here at all. Very impressive effort from Robin Thicke who managed to leverage this infectious track to invade the consciousness of the mass public. Amazing.

#5 "But if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like you've been here before?" It charted early on in the UK and only arrived in Singapore much later and I'm proud to say that I was one of those who recognised its magnificence. My first Instagram video was me singing a snippet of this wonderful track.

#6 I've heard the album and I'm not surprised if they end up a one-hit-wonder but Safe and Sound is an epic song that just envelopes you, completely. "Even if the sky is falling down, I know that we'll be safe and sound." I heard this played in a huge hall once and I just knew, then, I was in love with it.

#7 Cleverly editing out a very terribly written bridge, Alesso gave this track a huge kick in the ass and sent it sky-rocketing into my top 10. In fact this track feels like it was made for EDM - with its woooooooos and simple lyrics. Clearly, there are no better words to hear during a rave than "If I lose myself toniiiiiiiiiiiight."

#8 On the strength of We Can't Stop and a VMA performance that the world would not stop talking about comes Wrecking Ball, which was accompanied by a video of her swinging nude on a wrecking ball and licking a hammer. This is THE POP STAR of 2013, Katy Perry please bring your boring-ness back to California, thanks, bye.

#9 Bruno Mars has stopped doing stupid things like catching grenades and there's so much growth with this album that he was named Billboard's Artist of the Year. This is the defining track - an unforgettable midtempo stomper that showcases his charming voice.

#10 Lady Gaga will not stop until this track becomes the Born This Way from this album. Countless decent performers with R Kelly (SNL, AMA), without R Kelly (the one in Japan, the one with the xylophone, X-Factor), she's done it all in a bid to make it THE song off Artpop. Following hot on the heels of the performance with Christina Aguilera, the studio version was released this morning. There seems to be no strategy but she will flog this song even if it kills her. I sing it with finger snaps and hand claps every day on the way to work, so its brilliance is not lost on me. #10 it is.

#11 For some reason I thought One Republic's time in the spotlight was over. You can still be a good band without being relevant in pop culture, but this track exploded to public consciousness, with a tight grip on charts both in the US and especially in the UK. "Make that money, watch it burn." is my favourite line from this... brilliant song-writing indeed.

#12 One of the biggest stompers of the year, Wake Me Up! is one of those tracks you hear at a rave and everyone, everyone goes crazy. It has silly moments... in fact some bits remind me of old-school cowboy tracks but combined with some well-placed *tiutiutiu*, Avicii can do no wrong.

#13 This is how an RnB track should sound like.

#14 Okay, it's disappointing that not more of Justin's tracks from the new album(s) were as awe-inspiring as Mirrors. That being said, this is easily his best effort from the era, combining his usual tricks - a fucking 8-min masterpiece with mood changes, brilliantly atmospheric, strong lyrics and a chant to end off the song that fades into infinity, cementing it into memory. "You are, you are, the love of my life."

#15 Unexpected. Fresh. This is John Newman, begging you, "I need to know now, know now, can you love me again?"

#16 She famously said, "I wrote 4 hooks in Venus. The snippet is of the first two before the true chorus. The rise before the orgasm." Personally, the song delivers. I love it. Well done and three cheers for pop perfection.

#17 I admit I was one of the haters. What the fuck is this track? Why does it go nowhere? Why is it midtempo? What is it about? Why is Miley's voice irritating? And then of course the track blew up, and watching her documentary, it was nerve-wrecking for Miley to put everything behind the song that would announce the arrival of her new sound. She had guts, pushed for it, made it a success. We Can't Stop is an anthem. Respect.

#18 I love putting this track right smack here, because I'm sure NOBODY knows this one! The dashing Conor Maynard continues to push musical boundaries with the lead single off his upcoming album with a sound that's distinctly British. Smooth vocals, a grown-up video, a departure from his debut. I'm expecting big things from this young chap.

#19 She has no shortage of hit songs but this one stands out. We always knew Rihanna could sing, and when I heard this live, she really delivered. Dramatic, pleading, "I want you to stay."

#20 A thoroughly entertaining take on materialism. Cheeky lyrics, littered with proper vulgarities at appropriate places made it the rap song of the year.

#21 An unavoidable track that has been everywhere this year because of a sound so different and lyrics that the video generation can relate to. The message is strong in this one, and everyone sat up and listened.

#22 The lead single off Artpop was interesting and thematically relevant but not as catchy as her previous efforts. But it survived on the novelty of being her newest work for awhile, thank goodness for that.

#23 I'm surprised that I'd like a song like this, but it's so interesting in its vulnerability in the verses before breaking out into its eager chorus. Amazing effort by Imagine Dragons. "Don't get too close, it's dark inside, it's where my demons hide."

#24 His voice is just... cute, especially on this one. When he sings, "Treasure, that is what you are... I can make your wish come true, if you let me treasure you." You hear it and you believe it.

#25 You'd never have expected a song that sounds like this to come from Avicii. And that is why this is awesome.

#26 The lead single off her album failed to set the charts on fire, but there's no denying that this track did the trick to get her to the top of pop culture consciousness! You want a hot body? You want a Bugatti? Party in France? You know what to do.

#27 I like this cos it's so pop and dancey, light and feathery, beautifully produced insistent bassline, persistent chants of burn, burn, burn, burn... she uses her voice as only Ellie can, to great effect.

#28 Granted the track didn't need a remix to get the attention that it justly deserves, there's nothing better than hearing a song you like tailored to the clubs. "Kiss me hard before you go..." Well, you don't have to tell me twice.

#29 A pretty memorable and delightful effort from the boys of One Direction, bringing a smile to everyone's faces as they sing along OH OH OOH, YEAH YEAH YEAH... Very cocky to call your song "Best Song Ever" especially since it really is not the best song ever but... good nonetheless.

#30 More people should know about Rudimental. They make fantastic music! Hailing from the UK, the quartet does drum-and-bass stuff. Coupled with Ella Eyre's unmistakable vocals, this was a strong, and respectable UK #1.

#31 I promise you that EDM actually brings out the power and essence of a singer's voice and Paramore's Hayley sang the hell out of this one. Love it, love it, love it. ARE YOU GONNA STAY THE NIGHT.... OHOHOHOHOHOHOH... ARE YOU GONNA STAY THE NIGHT.

#32 Standard, but well-executed EDM-fare. TAKE MY HAND AND RELOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAD*tiutiutiu*

#33 Oh, I really love this one. Weird, folksy but with vocals and lyrics that literally jump out at you and grab your attention. You know it when you hear it. It puts you in a mood, and you want more.

#34 Macklemore!! Ridiculously catchy, ridiculously happy, ridiculous horns... So fun, so happening. ALL MY PEOPLE SAY NANANANANANANANA

#35 Because nobody says no to Maroon 5 and that video.

#36 I'm shocked that Katy's ballad is one up of Britney's but its shiny pop appeal, soaring chorus and strong sing-a-long factor most certainly gave her another easy hit from this era.

#37 Nobody knows why this song flopped, other than the fact that her efforts to promote it are lame. The track itself though, despite containing relatively childish lyrics, has a confident production, lush melody and Britney's rare singing voice.

#38 Not many people would be able to appreciate this but hey, he spared no effort on this track to show that nobody on earth can rap like he does. "Why be a king, when you can be a God?"

#39 An easy hit for P!nk. Brilliant, quiet, moving, meaningful... everything that's lacking on radio right now.

#40 Little Mix comprise good singers. The thing that makes me nervous is if they've got a sound to call their own. With Move, they've clearly blown all doubts out of the water and are confidently crafting their identity.

#41 If they'd tackled a different subject matter that people would be able to relate better to, the track would've done better. Eminem and Rihanna can do no wrong though so this track will continue to conquer charts in 2014.

#42 I don't know anything about this act, other than the song charted in the UK. It's one that will get you into the grove, this I promise.

#43 The track is good. It's as good as the other things that have come before. Like Fireworks. To me, it's like a rehash of old material. She deserves a spot on the chart but she most certainly could've done way better. DISAPPOINTED. 

#44 A marvelous slice of UK pop from The Saturdays. I wish it was more famous and that more people heard it. The delicious sound is amped by Sean Paul, making it the perfect summer track.


#46 One Direction are in the right direction with this track - grown-up, matured, but not boring! They are in need of a single as huge as their personas. This album will probably work out their growing pains and the next one should house a real gem.

#47 A collaboration that's really very, very difficult to go wrong. and Justin Bieber found a sweet spot with this track, that's effortlessly catchy, dancey and inoffensive.

#48 Taking the world by storm, I Love It shocked with a sound that was wild and free, and lyrics such as "you're from the 70s but I'm a 90s bitch". I remember reading on facebook someone saying "why would anyone call themselves bitch?" Times have changed, bitch, get with the programme.

#49 A strong follow-up from Psy. Althought completely possible, it makes me wonder if this will be the last we'll see of him.

#50 A steady pop-stomper from Demi, strong, and relevant. A good effort.