Serangoon North/AMK to Macpherson (Cycling)

Went to friend's friend house to watch League of Legends finals today. Planned a route avoiding major roads and it turned out MUCH better than expected.

Went through the private housing, so there were few cars. There were only 4 major traffic junctions to cross and so it was a breeze. Some roads were quite narrow though. But overall a very awesome ride. So happy to learn of this route. Next time if I ever work in Macpherson area I would totally make good use of this route. *smile*

We're doing it the opposite way

What does being a first world country mean? Why must we be a first world country? We work so hard, just to consume more things, that we don't need. So many malls sprout everywhere in the country, to provide places where we can consume and consume.

Consumerism. There's no end to it. Consuming -> happy. But that is the wrong way to go about happiness!


I think it is great to aim for self-sufficiency in your life. I think there are 3 skills that are very easy to learn.

1. The back-stitch
This is the strongest stitch you can do by hand and it works on almost everything. It is also very easy to do. I have mended buttons and shirts (the place near the collar tends to wear off easily). I have even mended my umbrella (the velcro tape part to keep the umbrella closed). I don't think I'll have to buy new stuff that often anymore.

2. Cooking
Well, just cooking edible stuff is very easy. There are also very simple dishes that are delicious and hard to screw up. E.g. soup, fried rice, eggs, sandwiches.

3. Hair cut
You have to be prepared to screw up a few times before you get it right, but after you get it right, it is very liberating. You can cut your hair anytime, into any style you like. A good pair of hair scissors isn't expensive and will last you a while (4 years on mine already).

Praise or punishment / Regression to the mean

The psychologist Daniel Kahneman, winner of the 2002 Nobel prize in economics, pointed out that regression to the mean might explain why rebukes can seem to improve performance, while praise seems to backfire.

I had the most satisfying Eureka experience of my career while attempting to teach flight instructors that praise is more effective than punishment for promoting skill-learning. When I had finished my enthusiastic speech, one of the most seasoned instructors in the audience raised his hand and made his own short speech, which began by conceding that positive reinforcement might be good for the birds, but went on to deny that it was optimal for flight cadets. He said, “On many occasions I have praised flight cadets for clean execution of some aerobatic maneuver, and in general when they try it again, they do worse. On the other hand, I have often screamed at cadets for bad execution, and in general they do better the next time. So please don’t tell us that reinforcement works and punishment does not, because the opposite is the case.” This was a joyous moment, in which I understood an important truth about the world: because we tend to reward others when they do well and punish them when they do badly, and because there is regression to the mean, it is part of the human condition that we are statistically punished for rewarding others and rewarded for punishing them. I immediately arranged a demonstration in which each participant tossed two coins at a target behind his back, without any feedback. We measured the distances from the target and could see that those who had done best the first time had mostly deteriorated on their second try, and vice versa. But I knew that this demonstration would not undo the effects of lifelong exposure to a perverse contingency.

This is why I love statistics. It applies to so many things in real life. Regression to the mean is so pervasive in our daily lives.

Some people have too much money?

I think some people are too affluent. I don't know how people can stomach meals that cost $20 and upwards. I don't know how people can visit Starbucks regularly. I mean, it's totally not worth it. Well, it's not like I don't splurge every now and then (ramen/premium ice cream, I'm looking at you...). But really, I hate spending money on things that have dubious value.

Sometimes, I feel conflicted when friends invite me to expensive places. It's hard to say no, and sometimes it's also once in a while... I really need to find a way around it.

The best things in life are free...

The war against smokers

It's a tough war. It's pretty hard to win. They control a lot of chokepoints. Stairs, toilets, junctions. There's nothing we can do. THEY HAVE THE MONEY. THEY HAVE THE INFLUENCE. WE ARE SCREWED. Soon, they will control all of the fresh air in the world. We have to fight. But, we can't. There's nothing we can do. They are like cockroaches. You cannot stop them.

The great USB port mystery / Little things evade you

For months, I was wondering why my front USB ports didn't work. I made very sure that the USB header was connected to the motherboard correctly. I even tried different USB headers on the motherboard. But no, it didn't work. I gave up, thinking that the front USB ports were screwed, and contained my rage at the distributor and manufacturer of the case (Fractal Design Define Mini).

Until yesterday. I decided to replace the USB ports with new ones from Ebay. So I recon-ed the casing by removing the front panel, and then, boom! The USB ports were not connected in the front panel... I suddenly remembered that I actually removed the front panel when I first got the casing and was putting in the hardware. Gasp! Another case of "problem is between chair and computer" (PIBCAK).

 I have a dumb streak.