Modern Family

The kids are all growing up so quickly. Rachel is 6, Daryl is 4 and Caleb is 3. That means this blog is almost 8 years old now!

As the children get exposed to shopping malls and supermarkets, they are starting to be trained in the ways of consumerism.

What’s the popular stuff nowadays? Frozen merchandise, Rainbow Loom, and the evergreen favourite Vitagen.

All this got me thinking, how fortunate my kids are nowadays compared to when I was younger.

1. Books

I remember growing up, the only book shops I knew were those in department stores. Parkson in OUG had these few shelves of books. We just had a few to choose from.

An Enid Blyton book cost around RM6, and I had to save my pocket money for a few months to buy one book.

Nowadays my kids have access to mega bookstores anywhere. There’s one just 5 minutes from our house. There are online bookstores offering any physical or electronic book in the world.

They are so fortunate to have so many books and yet they sometimes take it for granted. The books are read for a few minutes and then cast aside.

Enid Blyton books

2. Snacks

When I was younger, we had to wait outside our house every evening to wait for the uncle coming on the motor bike.

His bike would be loaded with a big metal bin of bread at the back. What we were interested in, were the snacks hanging in transparent plastic bags off the side.

There we could find all sorts of snacks with interesting toys inside, like Ding Dang and Tora.

They cost like 20 sen or 30 sen a pack, which is all we could afford with our pocket money. They were cheap and tasted awful but honestly we just wanted the toys right?

My favourites were the coconut buns and the durian flavoured pop corn. We would wait for the 6pm then eat the snacks while watching Cantonese TVB dramas.

Nowadays we can find all sorts of snacks in the supermarket, in mega-sized packs. They can have all the Vitagen and yogurt they want. What a ‘luxurious’ life they have.

3. TV

In our childhood, we were lucky to have one good TV program to watch.

Most of the time we just had one favourite cartoon and we had to wait one week for the next episode.

Sometimes the TV station would do funny things like cut off the show for the news or even start showing a different show.

My kids have no concept of broadcast TV. There’s no way of explaining to them why they can’t pause or rewind the TV.

They basically grew up on YouTube videos, which means they get to repeat songs or Peppa Pig episodes. Their habit is skip, skip, skip, watch… repeat, repeat, skip skip, watch… repeat, etc…

We adults are pampered too. There’s so many interesting channels on YouTube.

4. Toys

Hmm come to think of it, nothing much has changed. Toys were expensive in the past, and they’re still expensive now.

My kids have new toys to play with. Half my toys were inherited from cousins (which wasn’t a bad thing).

Recently we went on holiday and we bought them sandcastle sets. I have to admit, I bought because I wanted to play too haha.

5. Fast Food

One thing I really enjoyed as I started working and earning income, was to eat at McDonald’s.

Growing up, McDonald’s was a luxury. We usually had the Beef Burger. Cheeseburgers were a treat and Fillet o’ Fish a luxury.

Eating fast food seems more affordable nowadays.

You can get a set meal with fries and soda for around the same price as a plate of noodles.

So my kids (and I) get to have McDonald’s once a month if we wish.


Maybe mass production has made things cheaper, or maybe our earning power has increased.

Kids today have all their basic needs met, which allow them to focus their energies on learning. Maybe that’s why they seem more intelligent nowadays.

I’m grateful for my parents providing all my needs. I never had to worry about going hungry.

Maybe that’s what my parents can say about my sister and me. That we grew up in a better life compared to their time.

Many things today are definitely better off compared to the past.

But look at the news from other countries, where there’s fighting and killing. We should really cherish the peace and stability we have enjoyed in Malaysia.





Social Media

canyon by B Cleary

Social media has become a popular buzz word these days.

It seems everybody is trying to get into social media. My company has even formed a new department just to promote our products and activities online.

Most people would equate social media to Facebook or Twitter alone, but social media transcends any single website or service.

To me, social media services allow us to consume each other’s lives.

When you follow, friend or subscribe to someone, you open the floodgates to their thoughts, interests, and activities.

I have been a user of services like SixDegrees, Friendster, Digg, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Delicious, LinkedIn and Twitter. Since I got my new phone, I’ve even started Foursquare, Waze and GetGlue accounts.

I’ve found one weakness of social media after using these services for some time.

The terrible fact is, all the social media in the world is useless if you don’t have friends who are equally interested (and active) in social media.

<rant class=’dramatic melancholy’>

It can get very lonely and disheartening.

Somehow, somewhere I have gotten so busy updating random facts about my life and checking in all over the place.

But was anyone listening? It’s like I’m shouting into a canyon and all I get is my own echo.

What can I offer that can stand from all the digital noise?

I’m not a sweet young thing, a celebrity, an outrageous personality or a talented whatever. I’m just a regular guy. Who would be interested to know about my life?

I’m really glad to have met some new acquaintances online. But when I look carefully, I have met all of you through blogging, not through services like Twitter or Facebook.

I feel it’s all meaningless… like typing 4 8 15 16 23 42 every 108 minutes. Take for example my latest tweet “Good morning and Happy September”.

What was the point of that message and will it mean anything one week from now, or even 24 hours from now?

Then there are privacy issues and the danger of revealing TMI in a moment of excitement or anger.



So what am I going to do? First of all, I’m going to stop using some of my ‘social media’ accounts. There’s just no point and it’s not worth the time.

Second, I’m going to try to engage people in conversation instead of publishing random thoughts.

Third, I’m going to try channeling most of my updates back through this blog. Blog posts allow me to express my thoughts and feelings better than 140 characters can.

Fourth, I may be removing some ‘friends’ and stop following so many people. Don’t worry… if you’re reading this blog post then you’re probably not one of them. I’m talking about those you add, but have not sent a single message (or worse, never bothered to reply my messages!).

In case you skipped all the above and just read the last line, what I’m expressing is my poor user experience with social media because, well, I’m failing in the ‘social’ part. I start to see it’s kind of pointless for me, and I have decided to take action.

P/S: I realize I’ve been saying a lot of things are meaningless. I’m not trying to be difficult or sound suicidal, but a lot of things that occupy our time, energy and attention are really meaningless in the sense that you get no lasting value, and sometimes you don’t even get appreciated.

Photo by: B Cleary

The Weekend Is Over

In the blink of an eye, the weekend is over. It’s Monday, and the whole cycle begins again.

Before I went to sleep last night, I felt a deep sense of regret. It seems like I have accomplished nothing.

Throughout the night, I felt restless. Even my dreams were uneasy. I kept dreaming that I had work to do, tasks to finish.

And this morning as I was woken up, I felt really unsatisfied because I couldn’t finish the work I had been dreaming about.

Last Friday evening was full of hope, full of possibilities.

Saturday morning was filled with exciting freedom.

Sunday was moody and heartbreaking. And last night was totally depressing.

Poey Chin cooked me a bowl of prawn-mee flavoured instant noodles trying to cheer me up, and it helped.

But as I went to sleep I felt that I could have spent my time better.

Sometimes I wonder if I would feel the same before I die.

Would my life be totally wasted? Would I die feeling unsatisfied, feeling like I wasted all my time?

Even if I accomplish many things, will it matter after I’m gone?

In the end, it’s all nothing. Nothing lasts forever, not even happiness.

Work is meaningless. Wealth is meaningless. Life is meaningless.