Jackoatsmon's Blog

February 14, 2012

Social Change and Generational Rebellion

Filed under: Uncategorized — jackoatsmon @ 1:26 pm

I was talking to a couple of colleagues and were discussing the changing social norms these days.  How getting a divorce is common and socially acceptable.  How sex outside marriage seems to have become acceptable.  The list can go on and on.

In a way, we have become more tolerant.  I suppose that we do not want to offend or lose our friends / relations.  Someone got pregnant prior to their marriage?  Its understandable.  Someone got divorced?  Its normal.  I remember when I was young, a divorce was something that was extremely rare and horrifying.  I remember how shocked I was when I first heard about a divorce within my extended family.  The next thing I knew, there were divorces happening all over the place.  Sex outside of marriage?  The media has lead the charge and made it a norm to have multiple partners.  It has become such that if you want to maintain the moral standards and behavior of the past generations and disassociate yourself from those with loose morals, you will quickly find yourself living in self imposed isolation.

I wonder if the change in moral standards is due to rebellion against the establishment.  At one time, acceptable dressing was to be fully covered from the neck down.  Then came the mini skirt.  This was frowned upon by the adults of the time and I supposed thus gleefully embraced by the youths of the time.  Of course, the youths eventually grew up and became the establishment.  The establishment now accepted a different standard of dressing that was more relaxed than the generation before theirs.  But the youths of the time still felt a need to rebel against the establishment and along came micro-minis, punks, goths, etc.

The barely dressed youths of today, the punks and goths will one day become the adults of tomorrow.  They will become the new establishment.  What then will be the standards of society?  What will be the acceptable clothing and standards of behavior?  The youths of tomorrow will still feel a need to rebel against the establishment.  How will they do it?  Considering the amount of clothes (or lack thereof) that the current youths are wearing, they will have to go naked if they wish to continue the current trend.  I like to imagine that we will reach a time when the youths will rebel by covering up as much as possible, lose all but the most minimal amount of makeup and start holding on to a puritan-like sense of morality.  It will be a strange sight to behold and one which I am quite glad that I will be unlikely to see.

January 24, 2012

Change

Filed under: Musings — jackoatsmon @ 11:49 am

‘The only thing constant in life is change.’  This is something that has been said over and over again but remains true nonetheless.

Change happens every day and some are sudden and some happen gradually over time.  The gradual changes are easy to handle as they tend to creep up on us over time and we simply adapt to it until one fine day when we look back and realised that things have changed.  We may feel happiness or regret at that point but in all likelihood, we would have adapted and accepted the changes.

Our reaction to sudden changes are more varied.  I suppose it depends on whether we are the ones who desired the change or it has been forced upon us.  Changes that we desired, such as starting a new job or moving to a new home can feel us with excitement and energy.  To embrace the new that is lying in front of us.  Conversely, changes that are forced upon us, such as retrenchment or death in the family can cause us to loose energy and focus or even devastate us emotionally.

I anticipate having to move out of the home that I have been staying in for more than two decades.  It is the home that I kids know.  Unfortunately, this change has been forced upon us and barring unforeseen circumstances, will take place.  Besides the concern about logistical matters that need to be addressed, I find myself waxing nostalgic over the regular places that we frequent in the neighbourhood.  The supermarket which we have always thought to be one of the best around, the tuition centres that my kids go to, the market that we buy breakfast from once a week,  I have not even settled where I will staying in the future but am already missing some of the places.

I naturally try to tell myself about the positive points such as getting away from the madness that is the weekend traffic, getting away from the stray cats the neighbours feeds and other things.  There IS two sides to the coin.

Change – can live without it, must live with it.

December 14, 2011

Professional Behaviour

Filed under: Work — jackoatsmon @ 4:07 pm

I find the word ‘professional’ other than in the sense of describing a person belong to a profession to be a sign that things have gone down the drain when it is used in the office.  This is especially so when it is used to describe behaviour.  The only time that I see phrases like ‘I will be professional about it’ or ‘ behave professionally’ is when relationships has soured to the point when it has become necessary to hide behind this vague unwritten rules of conduct.  It means that a normal amicable working relationship has gone so far south that it is no longer truly possible to work together.

What is ‘professional behavior’?  To me, it means getting the job done properly whilst maintaining a polite facade.  To me, it does not mean that cordial relationship exists.  Being polite and being cordial are two different things.  Being professional means getting my job done.  It means that I am able to ask the necessary questions and document whatever failings that I come across.  Anyone who pushes me to the point where I have to behave professionally towards them should ensure that they do their jobs correctly as being professional frees me from emotions such as compassion and empathy.  All that matters is that the job gets done.

I do not like having to behave professionally.  It is extremely strenuous and is probably bad for my career as well.  I much prefer to just get things done.  I have received good advice that I should behave in a more cordial manner towards those who have tried to destroy my reputation and career.  After all, their plans had backfired and my interpretation of ‘professional behavior’ has more junior people worried as they do not have the reason behind my sudden change in behaviour.  Good advice.  Sound advice.  My problem is that I am a straight forward person when it comes to friend / foe identification.  It is extremely hard for me to pretend that one is the other once a certain line has been crossed.  Sigh.

In the end, we all have to pay the consequences of our actions.  I need to struggle past my inability to smile in the face of two-faced, back-stabbing %!#$!@#$% before I start paying a price for it which I cannot afford.

December 7, 2011

Merry Commercial Chri$tma$

Filed under: Musings — jackoatsmon @ 1:35 pm

Christmas is coming again.  While the world talks about goodwill to all men, the meaning of Christmas and all that, for many it is a commercial christmas and is about getting presents, attending parties, eating, drinking and being merry.

Nothing truly wrong about having a commercial christmas.  In moderation.  Its going to help the retail industry and the economy after all.  Then again, look at all the stress we put ourselves through trying to find the perfect gift (I’ll settle for finding a decent gift), rushing all over and fighting with the crowds – all in the ‘spirit’ of Christmas.

All in all though, I am grateful that I am able to fight with the crowds and buy gifts for friends and family.  It means that I have loved ones to share the holidays with. It is always good, as well, when people really like what you’ve gotten them.

So to all who celebrate Christmas in whatever form and for whatever reason – Merry Christmas.  May you find joy and happiness during this festive season and the year ahead.

November 29, 2011

Who am I?

Filed under: Musings — jackoatsmon @ 3:56 pm

The same old question that crops up every now and then.  Who am I?  What defines me?  Then again, does it really matter?  In a hundred years time, I will be dust and at best a faded memory.  I do not have the ambition to strive for the immortality of fame and history.  I live, I die and I am forgotten.  So what matters the answer to the question ‘Who am I”?

We all wish to have significance but in the end, do we really have any?  Even if we do, it is perhaps only in the significance of our species.  Do all other life that we share our planet with really care about what we view as our achievements?

Who am I?  I suppose I am a consumer.  I consume the work of others, their ideas, their inventions.

Who am I?  I suppose I am a cog.  I am part of the machine that we know as society.  I play my part and turn accordingly in the right direction and, in my own small way, keep society moving along.

Who am I?  I am what I am.  I am a product of my parent’s genetics, my upbringing, of various ideas and thoughts that I have absorbed from my environment and experiences.  In the end, the reality is that I am here with responsibilities to those around me.  There is naught to be done about it but to strive ever onwards and make the best of what I have.  To get what fulfillment I can with the time I have here.

 

A stray thought has crossed my mind.  There is the famous quotation “I think, therefore I am”.  No one ever mentioned what was being thought. . .

November 12, 2011

My Favourite Bookstore

Filed under: Service — jackoatsmon @ 2:59 am

I have been going to the same second-hand bookstore regularly for than twenty years now and had always liked the collection of books that they had as well as the knowledgeable and friendly staff that they had there.  The first major change they had was when the person that served as the face of the store left after selling the bookstore to another company.  While I missed her friendliness and her vast knowledge of the books she had, she was replaced by a team that was also friendly and knowledgeable.  More recently, the shop was relocated to a more up market shopping mall.  This took away the comfort of the familiar as the layout of the books had changed.  A more serious change, to me, was the fact that all of the existing team had disappeared.  While the new staff at the store were pleasant enough, I did not know them and they did not know me.  As a result, they were not able to make any recommendations on what books were available and did not engage in any small talk.  This is not usually important to me as I normally just go to a shop, buy what I want and leave.  This was different as I had grown up with the store and made connections with the people there.  They had bothered to note what I liked to read and would make recommendations and call me up to let me know when the books I liked arrived and offer to set them aside for me.  They recognised my family as well and would ask about them when I went to the store.  While I have kept going back to the store, I realised that I did not enjoy my visits as much.

I learnt that one of the old team was working at a another bookstore and promised that I would go down to take a look.  I finally made it down yesterday after a long time.  I was very pleasantly surprised to see the whole team there.  They still remembered me and it was like meeting old friends again.  They still remembered what I liked and asked about my family as well.  I will have problems making it down to the shop regularly as they do not open on Sundays but knowing that everyone on the team is there makes me determined to try to do so.  The shop may not have as big a collection as my previous place but I am confident that they will have the books I like and the warmth and service means a lot more to me.

For those who like books and enjoy good and knowledgeable service, I would suggest paying them a visit.  They are located at the ground floor of Hitachi Tower, Collyer Quay.  They have a basic information website located at www.preciouswords.com.sg.

November 6, 2011

Kids and Technology

Filed under: Aspergers,Musings — jackoatsmon @ 3:15 pm

I was one of those that grabbed the iPhone 4S when it was released.  I actually had to queue twice as my spouse wanted one as well.  Took me hours to get it done.  We were both happy to get the new iPhone as both of our phones were starting to act up and it was time for a change.

The features have already been discussed over many forums and media reports so I won’t bother to go into them.  (This is not a technology writeup anyway.)

The most notable feature was, of course, the SIRI.  We got home and started asking it all sorts of ridulous questions (just like everyone else).  As adults, we knew that it was ultimately a piece of software and limited our questions accordingly.  What was amusing to me was having my son ask SIRI how to do certain things in all seriousness.  As his enunciation isn’t very good, I doubt that the question was ever properly captured in the first place and he finally gave up.  😦

What I did not expect to see was the situation which arose when my daugther, who has Aspergers, tried to give instructions to SIRI.  She had apparently tried to get SIRI to play a song for her but as SIRI could not really catch our local accent, it kept giving her the usual replies like “I do not understand” or “I am not able to”.  This upset my daughter so much that she broke down and cried because she felt that SIRI was being very rude to her.

Aspergers problems aside, it seems as though technology is finally starting to get to the point where it is able to appear to be an intelligent entity in its own right where humans expect that it would response to their words the way another person might.  Where will this leads us?  On one hand, we can look at the future as shown in the various Star Trek and similiar shows where the computer can execute commands given verbally.  On the other, we can look at shows like the Matrix.

Fortunately for me, I am likely to be dust before such a thing happens and I can still treat it as an interesting piece of fiction.  🙂

There is a podcast by the mr brown show spoofing SIRI that is very funny to those who know the culture for Singapore.  View it at http://clips.tojsiab.com/?w=simi or at http://mrbrownshow.com/ (6 Oct podcast).

October 26, 2011

Friends

Filed under: Musings — jackoatsmon @ 2:12 am

I was reading a friend’s blog and facebook entries recently and was quite amazed by the number of activities she was having with her old friends, some which were apparently out of touch for many years.  It takes a fair bit of time and effort to be doing this.

Her activities reminded me of the opening lines of a poem which I used to read and treasure long ago but have now mainly forgotten.

Make new friends but keep the old,
Those are sliver but these are gold

Looking back, I realise that most of my friendships have been transient.  They have lasted only slightly longer than the circumstances that had thrown me together with them and faded quickly after that.  When I was young, I suppose that it was because I did not truly consider them to be true friends as they would often choose others over me when the time came.  Another reason is that I did not make a real effort to stay in touch.  Then again, real friendship does not truly require a constant string of activities to keep up although the occasional touchpoint is still needed.

Now that I am older, I am glad that I have at least found friends that have stood the test of time.  We may not get in contact regularly and a couple of years by pass without seeing each other but when we do, it is always good and we enjoy catching up with each others lives.

Old friends, like gold, are indeed precious.

(I just googled the opening lines and found the lyrics to a folk song that starts of with the same lines.  I am not sure whether this is what I read originally though.  The lyrics can be found at http://www.songsforteaching.com/folk/makenewfriends.php.)

 

October 23, 2011

Affluence

Filed under: Musings — jackoatsmon @ 1:18 am

Growing up during a time when the country was rapidly developing has given me a chance to grow with it as well.  Looking back in the past, I can compare what I have now against what I use to have and  be grateful that my lot in life has improved.  I was fortunate enough to be able to study in the University, get a good job and provide some of the nicer things in life for my family even though we will never be living the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

I was talking with some friends the other day though about how I am sometimes worried about what will happen to my children when they grow up.  While they are enjoying a nice life now, will they be able to afford the same when they grow up and have to pay for it themselves?  As parents, we try to provide them with the as much advantages as we can in terms of education and experiences but that is no guarantee of their success in life.  Looking at the grades the kids bring back at times, the fear exists that they will have problems down the road.  Of course, being able to afford the material things in life is not everything but I just hope that they will not have to do with less in the future.  I sometimes wonder whether I should give them less so that they will be able to better appreciate the finer things in life later on but that doesn’t feel right as well.

There is the concern as well that whether they will be happy from the social point as well.  That they will have good friends, a good life partner and a good job.  Basicallly, that they will be happy.  Many of these aspects are not within my control.  I can only give them the best I can and bury my fears as deeply as I possibly can and hope for the best.

October 18, 2011

Oriented and Orientated

Filed under: Uncategorized — jackoatsmon @ 3:32 pm

One of the things that I had often challenged people on was the use of the word ‘orientated’.  I had always thought that it was a mispronunciation of the word ‘oriented’.  I was therefore rather surprised to hear an Englishman use the word today.  Finally did a check on the web and discovered that both words are correct although ‘orientated’ appears to be used more by the British and ‘oriented’ by the Americans.  The Englishman in question does not use the word ‘oriented’.

For someone who is supposed to be able to speak the Queen’s English, this is rather embarressing.  (Although I am certain that there is already a multitude of errors in my writing.)

For those who are interested, I found the above information at http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-ori1.htm.

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