Tag: Links

The Never-Ending Debate of Books vs Movies.

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It was a peaceful Saturday sit-in yesterday for my husband and I. We kicked off the day with some music from the 80s on YouTube and ended with The Bodyguard starring Kevin Costner as the titular character and Whitney Houston as singer-actress Rachel Marron, the client whom Costner’s character was paid to protect.

After the movie (which we watched for free on Yes Movies), I remembered that I wanted to watch The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel as well. Actually, I was supposed to watch that movie immediately after reading the book. But I completely forgot all about it and to be honest, if I did watch it now, I wouldn’t remember the storyline much as I had finished the book last year. But still, it wouldn’t hurt to watch it anyway.

So I did.

But I stopped halfway through the movie.

Because I realised that the movie had not followed much of the book at all! Granted most movies don’t actually follow the book word for word, but there were no proper transitions at all between each scene and the early parts of the movie had not properly explained who each character was and why they had decided to go to India. Whereas in the book, there were chapters that were dedicated to describing each character and his or her purpose in the story.

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Which brings us to this never-ending debate of whether books are still better than movies or vice versa. Of course, it depends on whose side you’re on and what sort of person you are. If you’re like me, an avid reader who swears by the novels she reads and doesn’t let e-books get in the way of your paperback relationship, then books will always triumph over movies. If you’re hardly a reader and prefers to have comic books as your bed-side choice, then movies will be your source of joy and happiness.

It is undeniable that a book always takes the cake over its movie version. Movies will never ever replace the power of imagination that a book has for you through its pages. With books, you can close your eyes and pretend that you’re arm-wrestling with cowboys on the moon with Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick Star on Robot Pirate Island. You can already hear the mechanical sounds in your ears. That’s what imagination does to you and to think that Spongebob and Patrick didn’t even need a book!

But wait, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Not all movie adaptations are evil. Some are pretty good even if it meant that they had to be clipped to fit the standard duration. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter franchise and the Chronicles of Narnia were pretty decent movie adaptations.

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Movies can do a lot of things, like making us see a lot of things. They can bring whole new worlds to life before our eyes and turn characters into living and breathing bodies. Movies leave us on the edge of our seats as nail-biting battle scenes are being fought in front of us, or leave us heartbroken and in tears over a death, or smiling with joy at a birth of a newborn child.

Books require complete silence and are a pure, undiluted form of escape, there’s nothing like sitting in a cinema with only the lights streaming from the big screen in front of you, devoid of any other distraction (save for the errant ping of an ignorant cinema-goer) and your attention is paid only on the story playing on the screen.

Movies are amazing creations but they don’t have the same kind of magic that books have. With movies, you’re merely an observer. You don’t feel the emotions that the character feels; you aren’t reading every single one of their innermost thoughts, their doubts, fears and hopes. Movies also have the bad habit of leaving us with this thought, “That’s not how I pictured it to be!” Just like the movie that I watched last night. The book and the movie did not match at all, with what seemed like missing key characters or characters thrown into the mix just for the sake of being there. It’s kind of like fluff-writing where you add in unnecessary items just to plump up the plot and make it seem longer.

But with books, you feel everything, you know everything and you live everything! You can be the saviour of the world; you can be the girl who battles a life-changing disease; you can be a demigod, an alien, an angel, a god, a villain or a hero. You can be anything and everything. There are no limits to who you want to be. There is no limited storytelling time with books compared to movies. Movies have to be condensed to the point of removing or deleting parts which also leads to what I call as mis-transitions. Changes of scenes that have no rhyme or reason of being there. That’s because movies have to be done and over with within a maximum of 3 hours. Any longer and your cinema-goers might just nod off in their seats.

Books don’t need the power of visuals to allow readers to put the story together with the elements in their minds. The stories that you read in books will stay with you forever. Just like music and vinyl, and writing and books. Movies don’t have much to offer except for the scenes that you have seen with your eyes.

That is why books for me will always be better. When you read a book, nothing else exists around you and you can be that whole other person in a completely new and amazing world. You can be someone else, live that person’s life, be free of your own troubles, even if it’s only for a few hundred pages. Books are the medicine for your mind, the magic for your imagination. Which is why I stopped halfway through The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel movie and preferred to maintain the pristine image of the story in my head since I’ve read the book. Which is why for me, movies may be great but books will always be greater.

For The Love of Typewriters.

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I have always been one to lean towards all things retro and vintage, from big things like cars to small things like accessories and costume jewellery. When I came across photos of old timey things like the retro and/or vintage typewriters, I’ve not looked back since. I often croon and rave about typewriters to my then boyfriend (now husband) and how I’d do anything to get my grubby paws on one. Of course, that dream never materialised as the cost to buy and own one was rather expensive. Here in Malaysia, when foreign items are imported, the tax is quite high thus adding more ringgit to the original cost and it wasn’t worth it to spend so much on something that even I wasn’t sure I’d use it often enough.

Until my 30th birthday this 2016.

My husband knew how much I loved typewriters, the concept of it and the idea of using one. The only time I’ve ever seen a typewriter was at my uncle’s place in Johor Bahru and even then, I didn’t get round to using it. I’ve only seen him using it. Even then, he was blind so up until this very day, I still have no idea how he knows which key to press. I’m not sure why I like typewriters but I guess it’s the retro or vintage concept of it compared to a modern laptop or desktop computer. The “clack, clack, clack” noise it makes as you stab the keys can get on your nerves at first but you will eventually get used to it and once you do, you’ll never look back.

And so he bought me one. An Antares 280. Manufactured in 1988 (the same birth year as my sister so they’re as old as one another). Quite a sturdy one, rather big and clunky though but I love it nonetheless. It’d be better, of course, if it was smaller and lighter but ah, typewriters with those qualities are usually more expensive. In my opinion, that is.

What’s so great about a typewriter anyway? I’m sure the millennial generation and my cousins born in the Net Generation may not understand why we would go for traditional typewriters instead of the current and modern laptops.

WHAT TO DO WITH A TYPEWRITER

Believe it or not, this was the first question in my head when I brought my new (yet old because it had been restored by a young man as was his profession to do so) typewriter home. What should I do with it? What do I type with it? After all, I had a fully functioning and modern laptop at home! Well, there are many reasons why people choose to still use a typewriter ’til this very day, and here are some of the reasons why:

Aesthetics. The typewriter can be a source of art by unlocking an entirely different side of the noisy contraption and creating visuals out of the characters on the keyboard. It is the mechanics of and being able to feel the typewriter’s mechanisms that gives it a touch of mystery. The art that is created resembles a pen and/or ink drawing.

Diaries and/or Journals. Typewriters are a sophisticated alternative to keeping journals. Use loose-leafed pages for each day and plant your thoughts in them. File the pages away in a clear holder with pockets or use a hole-puncher and rings to hold them together. The world is your playground. I’d probably use mine for journalling.

Sustainability. Digital devices are churned out under questionable labour conditions, suck up energy and become hazardous e-waste within a few years. But typewriters will work for decades, maintained and powered only by your own hands. It’s an activity that won’t pollute. As for paper, you can reduce waste and use them as rough paper for your thoughts. The trees and earth will be forever grateful to you.

Durability. I’ll bet that you don’t own many things that were built before your birth and honestly, neither do I. But the high-quality typewriters of the 20th century were made to last. Just learn how to maintain them with some care and common sense. Ribbons are still readily available. If done right, you can use your typewriter for the rest of your life. Even your personalities will rub off on each other over the years.

Practicality. A typewriter was made to do one thing and that is to type. On a laptop, it’s easy to be tempted to check on something else when you get bored. You want to know what’s hot and what’s not on social media. A typewriter, however, invites you to sink into writing. There’s no turning back, no multitasking, charging ahead clear-sightedly and decisively.

Privacy. Anything we do digitally may be visible to hackers, corporations or governments. The world is looking over your shoulder. With a typewriter, you get full privacy; it doesn’t store your words and no one will read your typing except you unless you choose to share. It’s refreshing to know that your writings are truly your own.

Self-Reliance. Without the need for electricity, software updates or tiny microchips, your typewriter really belongs to you. It cultivates independence and lets you understand your own tools. You can even bring it with you to some isolated log cabin in the woods or in the middle of a snowstorm (with enough food and clothes) and you’d be able to survive. That is, until you start running out of paper…

CLEANING YOUR TYPEWRITER

Unless you are confident enough in cleaning your own typewriter, you can always get a professional or specialist in basic restoration of a typewriter. But if you decide to do the maintenance yourself, here are some of the things that you’ll need for a basic routine:

Cleaning Cloths. Find a piece of rag or a T-shirt that you don’t wear anymore and cut it up into squares of about 6 inches long on each side. These cloths will be used to wipe off dust and dirt from the typewriter and to clean your materials if needed.

Brushes. If you’re going to go all the way, you might as well invest in some brushes that are specifically made to clean typewriters. If you don’t have these, then a toothbrush or a paintbrush will do. These are used to easily get the dust and grime out of the mechanisms that are hard to reach, and with a solvent applied to the brush, you can easily clear out old oil and grease.

Alcohol or WD-40. These cleaners are great for clearing light rust, old oil, grease, dirt and grime, as well as doing a great job in shining the exterior metal parts when applied onto a cloth.

Vacuum. It’s probably not the best way or only way to clean a typewriter but some people do it anyway. What works is the extension arm of the vacuum can be held next to where you’re cleaning with the brush in order to suck up the dust.

Rem-Oil. This is by far the best oil in the market today that is used for oiling typewriters. However, do note that you can only oil a typewriter AFTER you have cleaned the mechanism. If still unsure, you can Google more about it.

SOME TYPEWRITER TRIVIA

  1. QWERTY Concept: Designed in 1873, this keyboard arrangement was to ensure the common letter pairs were placed as far apart as possible to reduce the chance of keys jamming up and raise typing speed.
  2. LENGTH of Words on Top: The longest common words that only required the top row of letters on a typewriter (and now the laptops and computer keyboards too) are ‘proprietor‘, ‘perpetuity‘, ‘repertoire‘ and ‘typewriter‘ itself.
  3. LONGEST Top-Row Word: However, the longest word that uses the top-row letters is ‘rupturewort’, a type of plant that is used to treat hernias.
  4. QWERTY-what?: The word ‘qwertyuiop‘ actually exists in the Oxford English Dictionary and it was the first word ever to be sent in an email (according to Urban Dictionary).
  5. ONE-ROW States: Peru is the only country whose name can be typed on the top row of a QWERTY keyboard and Alaska is the only one-row American state (its letters are found in the second (middle) row of the keyboard.
  6. NOSING Around: The Guinness World Record for typing a given 103-character text on a keyboard using only the nose was 46.30 seconds. (Say what?!)
  7. FIRST Typewritten Novel: According to Mark Twain, his book “Tom Sawyer” in 1876 was the first novel written on a typewriter.

I have since used my typewriter once last night and well, I must say it is very different (duh) from using the laptop. For one, I kind of have to stab the keys with a little more force as opposed to typing on a laptop’s keyboard. Secondly, the amount of typos and spelling errors I made had my inner Grammar Nazi screaming German profanities at myself. Last but definitely not the least, the margin kept running out of line. Oh well. Perhaps after awhile of using it, I’d eventually get used to it. I know I will. I just need time.

For those who have a typewriter and are still wary about using it, here’s a link (Typewriter Review) that might be able to help you. And it might just help me too!

My Lazy Sunday Musings: Moleskine Cafe, Milan.

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There’s a new place in Milan and it’s called the Moleskine Cafe. Credits: www.slate.com.

What I would give to book a flight to Milan just to visit the Moleskine Cafe! I rarely blog much about it but I’m actually a huge fan of notebooks and stationery, particularly notebooks by Moleskine and stationery brands like Faber-Castell, Buncho and Staedtler.

And when I found out about the Moleskine Cafe in Milan, Italy, I knew… I just knew that I have to make a trip there some day, one day. I may not be able to drink coffee now but I can always visit the place anyway, try out the other beverages on the menu and just absorb the Moleskinery culture and ways of life.

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The Moleskine Cafe entrance in Milan, Italy. Credits: www.slate.com.

The clean aesthetics, the use of contemporary colour palette of neutral colours and natural materials, the minimalist designs and the central highlights of the cafe very much resemble the famous journals they produce. Moleskine went from just notebooks to the essentials like pens and journal covers, as well as backpacks and slingbags. Whoever the brains were behind opening a Moleskine cafe, it’s pure genius.

You can read more about the cafe here at www.notey.com.

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Credits: Michele Morosi.

Yes, I’m a big Moleskine fan and an amateur Moleskine snob, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I follow Moleskine on Google+ and Facebook, and even keep myself up-to-date with their journal journeys around the world! Heck, I have at least 5 Moleskine journals at home now with me and they’re still in their plastic wrapping, new and untouched. Which is how I like them to be. Until one day an emergency crops up and I have to open one to use it.

C’mon, don’t tell me you’re not attracted and drawn towards an entrance like this? The place is just beckoning me to come forth, to buy that damn flight ticket and touch down at one of their square tables, take a seat on one of their colourful chairs and wait for your beverage to be brewed to perfection!

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What’s YOUR daily fix of inspiration? Credits: HypeBeast.com.

What Happens When Your Job’s Not Cut Out For You.

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Image via Getty Images.

Have your family and friends ever told you how lucky you are to have a job (your job, to be precise), but all you feel is a sense of utter confusion? Perhaps you simply can’t put your finger on what exactly it is that you don’t like about your current role, and you’re still there because of that, especially since people keep telling you how happy you should be and how grateful you should feel for having been offered a job.

If this is you, fret not. According to The Muse, this could be a case of unidentified career values. What are career values? Well, this is what it’s all about:

Career values go beyond the actual work you do—they’re more about what you get out of that work. You might be super interested in what you do and exceptionally skilled at it, but if you need, say, a high level of independence in order to feel satisfied in your work, then the company and manager you work for matters just as much as figuring out what position you’d like to hold.

You can read on about clarifying your career values at www.themuse.com because right now, what I’m going to touch on have more than just to do with career values. And yours truly is going down this wretched path now.

Today’s post is actually an update to my previous one about whether companies should have employee counselling services. I was unable to find any such services in my company so I just did the first and only thing that came to mind — having a short discussion with the Human Resources department head. After all, if there should be any advice coming from the company, it’s best to seek some out from this person. Thankfully, she was able to help me out here. But not without the usual consequences.

Wondering whether your job fits you or not is the most difficult dilemma to solve. Because you can never know what the job feels like until you have accepted the offer and climbed onboard. You won’t know how seriously messed up it is until you start doing some work for them. You definitely can’t tell if it’s what you’ve been looking for until you’ve stayed there long enough. But are you going to wait and how long are you willing to wait for an answer?

One day, I realised that I was just merely hanging on. By a thread. I was clinging to work that I didn’t enjoy. I was grasping onto a position that didn’t fit me. I was lingering in an environment that wasn’t healthy. And I was sticking with something that was draining all of my energy.

If I had to be completely honest with myself, I would have thought that I’d known this when I accepted the position that I was heading to a job that was not a good fit for me. I knew that too, even while I was going through the entire interview process. Some of the tasks were very, very deadline-oriented, which was not my forte. I knew that. I realised that I had only accepted the job because I thought it would be good experience for me to get my hands dirty and have it on my resume.

Boy, I was so wrong!

Nozomi Morgan had a lot to say about this on Huffington Post. To whom I entirely agree with.Especially on this subject matter.

So what went wrong in that short period of time? Well, I learnt a few things despite the short stint. I learnt that I was being discouraged from being myself. Having to be one person at home and an entirely different person at work is simply too taxing. The culture isn’t exactly amazing either. It makes me a little uncomfortable. Too much cussing and way too many deadlines with little to no breathing space at all. Not to mention, the ol’ bait-and-switch trick where the actual job was a different from what was described. Imagine starting out energetic in the morning but I’m all drained out and squeezed dry by the time lunch rolls round.

I dread Mondays. I watch the clock tick all day. And I can’t wait for Fridays.

I felt disconnected, as if the rest of the company is going in one direction really fast and I’m either heading down the wrong direction or going the same direction but at a really slow pace. I haven’t been able to deliver any of the deadlines that has been given to me. And because I’m such a dedicated person, the moment I fail to deliver, I start blaming myself for my failure and faults. I’ve become a totally different person. I’m depressed. I’m demotivated. I’m demoralised. I’ve lost sleep on some nights. I sometimes prefer not to eat because I’ve lost my appetite. And I’ve been having headaches that never seem to go away.

So if you feel dreadfully uncomfortable in your current position and it’s very unlikely that you’ll stay on to find out what happens next, then I’d suggest you find an escape route. Do it properly. Don’t burn bridges on your way out. Thank them for the opportunity but make sure that whatever it is that you find next will be something that you want and not another stepping stone to another job. And that’s probably what I’d do too.

What Happens When You’re Unemployed For Too Long?

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Image from Wiz Bang Blog.

The last time I was unemployed and looking for a job was in January this year (2016). The project I was working on last year had closed down and the whole team designated for the project were forced to look for work elsewhere. It took me four months to get a decent job, and even that was a three-month contract at a startup company doing SEO writing. Three months later, I was back out in the unemployment market.

Of course, the good news is that a month after my short-term employment ended, another company was kind enough to offer me a job offer, this time a permanent one with growth potential and possibly a brighter future for me.

But what if I didn’t get the short-term contract? I’d have been out of a job for almost 6 months and that would have been a questionable scenario for employers during our interviews. There wouldn’t be an interview. It would have been a full-blown, crime-scene investigation and interrogation. I would come under scrutiny for not having found a job, or worse, accused of being fussy and picky during my job search.

So how long is too long before you finally get a job? 

Personally, I think 1-2 months is the maximum period that I wouldn’t mind being jobless. Anything more than that and you’d definitely come under scrutiny. It also depends on which quarter of the year that you were suddenly out of a job and have to look for a new one. In Malaysia, most companies have shorter work days during the long holiday periods, such as the Chinese New Year celebrations in February, the fasting period for Muslims and Hari Raya in July and August, and Christmas in December. I’ve had companies taking a long time responding to my job applications during those periods, and it gets on nerves to find that the person in charge is on leave and won’t be back until a certain date.

It also depends on the economy. If times are bad and there is a high unemployment rate, then it will be even more challenging to find a job unless a company is willing to take the risk and put aside a budget for you.

And then what’s going to happen when you don’t get to find a job?

Well, you start becoming sluggish. Your self-discipline wanes. Your sleeping and eating habits change drastically. You start sleeping later and later, waking up at ungodly hours closer to lunch time instead of in the morning and having a proper breakfast. You eat at ungodly hours too, not just when you’re hungry but at any given time of the day because you’re not doing anything to keep yourself busy. Unless you have children, then maybe you won’t feel so bored and lifeless.

You also start to lose your previous productive self. Once upon a time, you used to flit from one meeting room to another, solving problems, replying emails, closing deals, drawing up reports, or presenting a PowerPoint deck to a potential client. Now, you’ve become the ultimate couch potato, channel-surfing or binge-watching on telenovelas and Korean dramas. Which is bad. Bad for your health and bad for you, as a whole.

However, if you suddenly find yourself in this horrific situation and realise that the gap of your unemployment period is growing, here are some pointers from Paul McDonald, the executive director of Robert Half Management Resources in Joe Turner’s article, ‘Out of Work? How Long Before It Hurts Your Career?

  • Be Flexible: You may not be able to find a job that is an exact match for the one you lost. Thus, you should explore other ways to apply your skills and expertise in new areas and highlight your transferable skill-sets.
  • Consider Relocating: Open your mind and eyes to opportunities in other cities or states, especially if your skills are highly specialised or that only a few job openings exist locally.
  • Stay Positive: Finding another job can take longer than expected because there are either fewer positions available, or there are other candidates who are looking at the same position as you are. Don’t worry. There will definitely be something for you.

Don’t be discouraged, and don’t give up too easily. The period between your last job and the present may seem like its just growing and not going away, but you should realise that being unemployed is not a permanent condition. There are many factors that affect your employment status, and most of the factors are those that are out of your control. Other factors that you can control, though, are your attitude and the activities that you can do while you’re jobless. These can work in your favour, if you let them.

Just like J.T. and Dale said in their article, ‘How Long Can I Stay Unemployed?‘:

If you delay a job search, the risk is that you’ll be unemployed for a very long time. Here’s why: An employee is like a house for sale. If it sits on the market for too long, buyers assume that something is wrong. When you decide to take 6-9 months off, employers start to wonder the same thing about you.

So what do you do then? Well, if you have a blog but you haven’t touched it in awhile, you could use the available time to tidy it up. Give it a major overhaul and brainstorm for new topics. You can also sign up for short professional courses to increase your chances of being re-hired, or join some classes that would help with expanding your skills. Or you can be like me. Do some freelancing work and get paid for it. The money may not be as much but it definitely beats sitting at home and doing nothing.

I’m glad to finally have a job now. It took me a long time to find one, and at some point, I was a little depressed because I thought I was going to jobless forever and my savings wouldn’t last that long either. So if you’re anything like me, don’t worry. You will find something. Eventually.