Sunday, January 21, 2018

Was just thinking about doors, and their metaphorical opening and closing. you know people say "when one door closes, another opens"? the more i think about it, the more i find it misleading. looking at it from a purely linguistic perspective, the proverb implies that this process is instantaneous, ie. door B opens immediately upon the closing of door A. i often find that to not be the case. sometimes, it takes a while before the other door opens, though i have to admit that the wait can be reduced if we put effort into searching for more doors with opening potential. and sometimes, the most unexpected doors will just open for you, as i will talk about later.

things are looking up again for judo. after the rejection from OCC, i chanced across a martial arts gym which didn't yet have a judo program, and went to talk to them yesterday. the manager was nice enough, and he seemed interested in the possibility of starting a judo class. now that initial contact has been made, i'm working on a proposal and we'll probably be meeting up again for further discussions/negotiations. reality check: nothing is solid yet. it also depends on how much interest is generated from their pool of students. we'll also have to bring in some students for them, so that's something else to consider. right now, i've put some feelers out, and we've got potentially 6 or 7 coaches and assistants willing to step in. exciting! but again, let's not get too excited until things firm up some more.

about unexpected doors. with this possible lead, i of course had to consult our head coach to determine the level of commitment and feasibility. after our chat, he kind of brought up that he's looking for a successor to take over his company, and he asked me to consider the possibility. to be honest, i have to say that i am intrigued, a little interested, but at the same time also more than a little apprehensive. no doubt that the foundation has already been laid out, and i will receive guidance and support from the old boss, which is something should allay most of my fears. but one major thinking point for me is that this company has absolutely ZERO relevance to my area of study. not just my area of research, my entire area of study for the past almost-decade won't be relevant. there's no chemistry in there anywhere at all! according to him, i shouldn't have much trouble catching up and learning the new stuff on the job, but i just wonder if it's a bit lot of a waste for me to study so much and not use my specialized knowledge. maybe there's a way to do both concurrently...like have a day job and run the company at night. or have one of those jobs on a flexible work week. i did go read up on some of the courses that i'd have to take, and they seem easy enough. the highest prerequisite i've seen so far (aside from the years of work experience required for some courses) is an O-level pass in english. but the cost! we're looking at $800-$1000 per course on average. it's still extremely premature, so there's not much to go by just yet. just something to entertain my brain on and off.

week 3/14 is over. making decent progress thesis-wise, not so much for lab work. thankfully, one of my juniors has agreed to help me synthesize a precursor. i felt quite bad about asking her, so i'll be giving her some platinum stuff too. aside from that, i guess life goes on as normal. oh! i've also just started teaching tuition again. got to make up for the lack of funding. had my first session with a HCI international boy today, from an assignment referred by one of the chemistry guys. this kid is preparing for the IB at the end of the year. thankfully, the syllabus is reasonably similar to A-levels. i think we had a good start! hopefully the trend continues. minor downside is that he lives some distance away, but i shouldn't complain as i can drive. and the tuition agency charges a commission equivalent to the first 2 sessions' fees, which means that i don't see any money just yet. well...no big issue. i'm not desperate either. besides, something about delayed gratification, right? with luck (and effort), everything will work out.

-random thought of the day: Anyone have tuition jobs to recommend?-

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Just going to recount a super weird dream i had earlier last night/this morning. i wrote down whatever i remembered on my phone, hence the nice caps.

*Written on 20 January 2018, 06:47am*
Starts off at my year end seminar held in my bishan place, in the bathroom off of the master bedroom, to be precise. I get 37% and perform the worst this year. It's raining like mad, and the house is flooded. People drown in 3 separate locations: 2 are beaches/mud flats in the master bedroom, one is under the tiles of my old room, as the floor has a quicksand-like effect. Among those who drown are my ex-classmate's twin younger brothers, a genesis coach, a few cjc friends, and maybe one of the chemistry guys. And then I wake up.

In part 2, I sign up to help retrieve the bodies. This is done by using my toes to feel for irregularities in the mud flats, and signalling for divers to dive down and explore any area we think might contain a body. All 8 bodies are retrieved. In my room, it's more difficult as the quicksand has dried up after the rain, leaving a solid tile floor. The plan is to loosen the quicksand by artificially flooding the room using a hygroscopic boron compound which is somehow available in the fridge in the kitchen. It's also a probe that may help detect the location of a body. I put some in my mouth to test it out (goodness knows why) and it seems to work. Flooding of my room is delayed as I have to move my things out, and modify the door so that it forms a watertight seal with the floor. Among the things to be moved are several pillows and a grey file with my academic certificates and a recommendation letter from Mr Lee (I have no idea where that file is in real life, meaning the letter is lost. I know where my certificates are though). There is a heated exchange with one of my secondary school friends whose best friend is under the tiles. He feels that the plan is taking too long to execute. I tell him that while I may not completely feel his pain, the people under there are my friends too, and I'm sorry that it had to be my room. I scatter the white crystals of boron compound on the floor, but wake up after that.

Parts 1 and 2 seem to have been dreamt up on different days, but I'm becoming increasingly unsure of that.


back to chemdraw. today's focus is drawing figures and reaction schemes.

-random thought of the day: I don't even know if there's any significance in this dream.-

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Progress check: 2.5/14 weeks gone. thesis chapters 1, 2, and 5 more or less complete. chapter 3 is at about 35%, chapter 4 about 5%. overall completion: 68%. page count: approx 170 pages so far. looks good, i think. i've given chapters 1 and 5 to my professor this past monday, and i'm hoping he won't be overly critical of them. i mean, i feel that i did a decent job. so i don't think i'll be scolded too horribly. of course, i'm not perfect, so i'm expecting the need for some changes and corrections. wish it would be accepted as-is, though odds are low. but hey, i can hope, right? the plan is to send him chapter 2 before the end of the month (don't want to bog him down too much since i've got a senior who's submitting before me; by this month, in fact), then chapter 3 before CNY, and we'll see how things go with chapter 4. with luck, finishing writing by february might actually be possible, but that's contingent on experimental progress too. i hate to admit it, but i haven't been in much of a "lab work" mood recently. must must get something done by the end of the month.

for news outside NUS, i've started looking for alternate sources of income. the grab plan is shelved indefinitely, because it doesn't make financial sense to me at this point. thankfully, i've got a friend who's been recommending me tuition jobs. i've got one due to start this weekend for IB chemistry, while another one for JC chemistry is in the works. the rate for the IB one is pretty good, but it works out to not much per month because that's the only confirmed assignment i have right now. i think that working as a full-time tutor can actually bring in good money, provided you teach 10 hours a day, 20 days a month, with all students paying upwards of $50 each. that's a minimum of $10000 right there! the calculation is based on one-on-one, so the number could possibly go up for group tuition. of course, the biggest problem is finding the clientele to pack your schedule so tightly.

in martial arts news, kurash is coming along nicely. we've secured a location, and are planning on starting classes next month. there's a congress that's to be held in india sometime in march, too. while i'd love to attend (although the thought of going to india kind of scares me), i'm not counting on being available for it. thesis submission, after all (and i'll most likely be broke by then). unless i somehow miraculously manage to submit early...but let's not give ourselves false hope. i'm actually quite excited to be part of the kurash movement. everything's still in very fledgling stages, but i'm optimistic for progress. i've got some technical documents done up, read about the rules and refereeing, and watched some competition videos on youtube. all in all, it looks a little simpler than judo (due to the absence of groundwork), although i find the refereeing and gestures to be a little robotic, unlike the flowing, graceful gestures used in judo. something i'll have to get used to, i guess. at least the gestures themselves are somewhat similar.

my sidequest is attempting to find a venue for a few of us to have judo training, and hopefully get our plans for a club going. approached OCC earlier this week, as someone told me that they were looking to start a judo class. unfortunately, they had engaged another club already. i don't have a high opinion of the coach there, not because of his skill (i'm sure he's proficient), but because of his character, which was partially influenced by HIS coach. and if anybody wants to raise a dispute, i'd like to point out that this is my opinion. although if you really want proof, i can probably dig something out. anyway. that's not the point. what was the point again? oh right. OCC didn't work out. i guess in a weird way, it was for the better, since that was supposed to be our initial choice of venue for kurash. lucky we gave OCC a miss, and found a place with a much better deal. i'm sure that OCC can't top whatever deal we got with the current landlord. i've got another place in mind, which i'll probably check out this saturday. i'm not too sure how it'll go, considering that they don't have an existing judo program, nor have they indicated interest to start one as far as i know. but i've got to at least give it a shot, right?

that's more or less it for now. for some reason, my hair's been feeling really itchy. not from lack of washing, mind you. think i'm overdue for a haircut. when was my last haircut, anyway? definitely before christmas, but still within december. might go this weekend, depending on how the schedule works out.

-random thought of the day: Keep going!-

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Upon the invitation of the SJC president, i went down to attend their kagami biraki (literally translated as "mirror-opening", a traditional japanese new-year ceremony) earlier today. i think it was the first time in 6 months to a year since i've put my gi on. just from the way it fit, and from the way i was panting after the warm-up, it more or less confirmed that whatever good genesis did for me has been completely undone. it's been 4-ish months of hiatus, and i'm not really looking forward to resuming. that's not to say i don't want to, because i do. but something that has to be done may not be enjoyable...just look at NS. still, gym plans will have to wait, i'm afraid. what i can do for myself now is to be more conscious about eating habits and about what i eat.

the more i see new faces and interact with new people, the more i'm convinced that good-looking people are more numerous than i'd thought. alternatively, my standards may be dropping. i did have a very brief chat with someone at the judo club earlier, and i thought we hit it off decently. luckily i didn't get my hopes up before doing a bit of detective work, which showed that that person appeared to be in a relationship. so, easy come easy go? maybe. well, as my scary friend would say, eye candy is good for the soul. but then, i don't really go down to the judo club that often either. maybe i should get to know my malaysian person better first. well technically not "MY" person (although actually yes if you interpret "MY" as the country code for malaysia. sorry, i'm being lame), but you know what i mean.

one of the chemistry guys shared that an acquaintance of ours got charged in court recently, and was slapped with a relatively long jail sentence too. i won't reveal too much here, save to say that when i knew this person in NUS, they seemed relatively normal. we were on cordial/friendly terms, and i talked to them...not exactly often. i guess considering the nature of our working relationship, i only approached them when i needed something. still, it was quite a profound shock to find out that this person had been charged, and even more so to find out the type of crime which the charge was for. i guess people do have their dark sides, though this particular dark side is just a tad darker than normal.

i met my cousin yesterday when i went over to my aunt's place to print my year-end report. she has an industrial xerox multi-purpose machine, and printing black and white documents costs a cent a side. that's 4 times cheaper than NUS, and many many times cheaper than commercial print shops. i printed 117 pages so far (2 chapters of 58 pages each + 1 cover page). that's like 40% of my thesis. going by this projection, my thesis will be 290 pages overall!? nah, i don't think so. the 3 chapters in between will probably be shorter. this first print run kind of makes me feel more hopeful, and makes me believe more that the goal is within reach. of course, this is before my professor sinks his claws into whatever i wrote, so there's still a measure of uncertainty there. at this point though, the thought is to just throw it in first and see how. oh, back to my cousin. he and his wife went to taiwan over the last week or so, and for some reason, they bought me a bottle of duty-free alcohol. it's weird because he's never done this unless i asked, and i've only ever asked that one time after bali because my own duty-free allowance had already been fully taken up. while i really shouldn't be looking too deeply into this (after all, we are close enough that this shouldn't be viewed as suspicious), i wonder if that's his way of apologizing for selling off his commercially-registered car after agreeing that i could use it for grab. or maybe it's an advance present for whatever i might need to do for his wife as things progress. or maybe it's just a gift, and i shouldn't think so much. probably the third option is best, though option 1 also looks really tempting to believe in for some reason.

another sign of my decreased fitness was that 2 hours of relatively light training got me tired to the point where i had to take an afternoon nap. of course, the crazy hot weather today may have contributed to that too. and i can feel some ache in my forearms, meaning that i haven't been exercising my grip for too long. anyway. tomorrow's the start of week 2/14 of my own internal schedule, and i believe it's week 1 of school? no wait it's not. school starts on 15 january, according to the NUS academic calendar. and i also found out that 30 march is good friday, which means that i have to submit by 29 march to only pay half fees. good thing i discovered it now as opposed to later/never.

-random thought of the day: Kurash is taking off!-

Friday, January 05, 2018

First week of 2018 is over. made some decent headway on my thesis. let's do a quick progress check. chapters 1 and 5 are more or less 100% complete, chapter 2 about 85% (which will be 100% by next week), chapter 3 about 10%, chapter 4 0%. that works out to overall completion of 59%, which took about 2-2.5 months to do. considering i have more than 2.5 months left, i think i'll make it. of course, i don't want to cut things down to the wire, there has to be some time budgeted for revisions, edits, and all that.

recently, i've been roped in to get involved in this sport called kurash. it's central asian in origin (think of the group of countries whose names all end in -stan), and is remarkably similar to judo, except that there's no groundwork element. the people have plans of getting a venue, starting classes, and even sending me for coach and referee certification. and you know what? it took that for me to realize that i am still somewhat attached to judo. don't get me wrong, i'm immensely grateful that people think highly enough of me to be willing to give me a boost up. but at the same time, i realize that i can't leave judo behind, even though the federation is beyond salvation. maybe it's because of the familiarity, or the time that i've already invested in it? not that i'm turning up my nose at kurash; i will still go with the plan to promote it in singapore. i think that i will find a way to continue with my judo journey, federation be damned. my black belt is international, after all, so i can train basically anywhere. i guess it just means that i can't fight for singapore in competitions (not that i wanted to anyway), nor will i be considered for continental referee unless the administration changes. that second one hurts a bit more. but well. titles and rankings will eventually be forgotten, which is also why i don't understand why the old men cling so desperately to their power.

one of the elders told me that in singapore, status matters. he said that if/when i do get my degree, our influence with government bodies will be greater because of the prefix to my name. though i hate to admit it, he has a point. it's quite unfortunate how we are judged based on our qualifications. at the same time, i also see the basis behind that. higher education is supposed to train you to think more in-depth, and more critically. so if a PSLE holder and a degree holder analyze the same situation, they will take different things away from it. having said that, i also don't think people should be discriminated against based solely on their educational qualifications. character and education are separate, and bad character can afflict people of any background.

i've noticed something recently. it seems that i'm more of a "face" person than a "body" person, as in, i'm attracted very slightly more to good-looking faces than nice bodies. how i discovered this was that i'd somehow seen someone's (very nice) body on the internet before i saw their face. and when i saw their face (which was average), my overall rating of that person dropped. maybe it's also because of their hairstyle, which i find doesn't suit them. although as i look at different photos, my rating of that person is slowly climbing back up. yes, it's superficial. but i figure i'll never cross paths with this person in real life, so it's somewhat forgivable. plus, i'm not identifying the person in any way at all. i learn something new every day.

can't quite recall if there was anything else i'd wanted to say. well, if i can't think of it, it's probably not important right now. reminder to self to maintain the momentum, and increase the pace if possible.

-random thought of the day: Stay on track-

Monday, January 01, 2018

So, here we are in 2018. as usual, it doesn't really feel all too different from 2017. the feeling i have is that this year will be important, for a number of reasons. first of all, i'll turn 30. that's in another 294 days, so there's still a good portion of the year to go before then. at this point, i'm still feeling pretty neutral about it. you know, the whole "age is just a number" thing. at the same time, there's this subconscious fear that having my age start with the number 3 will deter potential dates. i guess i'll cross that bridge when i get there. looking at significant dates closer to today, 30 march immediately comes to mind. it's 14 weeks away, and is the deadline for my thesis submission. with 2.5 outstanding chapters to go, i have to write an average of one chapter every 6 weeks (with some chapters being concurrently written). that in itself wouldn't be a problem, except that i need to do some more experiments as well. right now i just need synthesis, characterization, and a few tests. i don't dare to put a deadline to it, but i hope i can wrap up experiments by CNY, which falls on 15/16 february this year.

another reason that this looks like it'll be an important year is because it's one of those "crossroads" years, where my decisions are likely to have a larger impact on my life. previously, my path was quite clear, but now that i'm leaving school for good, the road ahead splits into more branches than i'm comfortable with. right now, i'm not too inclined to worry about that yet. my main goal is to get out of NUS with no further hassle, and to survive the next 3 months.

with that being said, i guess i should wish any readers here a great 2018. stay happy, healthy, and work towards your goals.

-random thought of the day: Feeling somewhat nervous/scared.-

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Now, on to the main body of my year-end post. to recap, the 2 drafts were posted in a separate post just before this one, so scroll down if you want to check them out.

despite the negative tone of the relationship towards the end, my theme for this year is "it is better to have loved and lost". i'm sure you know (or can google) the second half of that quote, so i'll just leave it at that. the reason i chose this theme is because even though our relationship didn't work out in the end, it did help me to understand myself better. apparently, i'm not desperate for love to the point of being completely accommodating/submissive to please my partner. and i shouldn't be. in fact, nobody should be. perhaps this is what some of my friends meant when they cautioned me not to forget myself for the sake of the relationship. but yes, i am now much clearer on what i can compromise and how much i can compromise, which is a win in my book as it's a learning experience. having said that, this entire relationship experience has also shown me that there are indeed areas that i have to work on, so that i can be a better partner for someone in the future. perhaps i am too hot-tempered. and perhaps i would have better luck in relationships if i was in better shape. that's why i'm not actively looking for a relationship until i reach a state of self-acceptance. whether that's through getting fitter or through growing a thick enough skin to no longer give a damn, i don't know. let's just see how that goes next year.

right now, i am still unsure about how i feel towards the ex. it ranges from neutral to negative, actually. there are days where i believe that they were giving the relationship their best, in terms of trying to accept me and working towards "convincing themself" to take things to the next level. and yet, there are also days where i am more inclined to think that they were just bearing with me to avoid being the "villain" who wanted to stop dating both times, or to keep me around because i was convenient, or whatever the case may be. the more i think about it, the more i wonder how serious they were about the whole thing, because i know that they still kept dating (hookup) apps on their phone while we were going out. since i don't have proof, i will choose to believe that no cheating took place. on my part, i didn't cheat either, though i will admit to gradually checking out mentally over the few months towards the end. i guess that right now, i don't really have anything else to say to the ex...nothing that would really make a difference by now, anyway. for the record, i did love them. pity that it wasn't reciprocated.

aside from that, this year has been...generally ok. i can't exactly say that it's been a good year, nor can i say that it's been all that bad. perhaps it was just one of those years that are just...there. the bulk of it was occupied with research, which i'm sad to say, did not progress as smoothly as i'd hoped. i suppose this is another learning point, that research and me don't get along too well. in fact, most (or maybe it's all) of the chemistry guys don't have plans to continue in academia. looking through a random selection of posts made over the past year, it seems that i've been rather negative overall. also, last year and this year have been two consecutive years of record-low post counts. while i doubt that i'll be shutting down the blog anytime soon, maybe it's just the trend. or maybe my post count will go up next year, when i should have more free time.

in terms of personal connections, i am happy that the chemistry guys are still close. we still hang out somewhat regularly, though some of us more so than others. wonder how that will change, since most of us will be leaving NUS within the next few months. i also had a rare meetup with chemical engineer cousin and her husband, who were in singapore for a business trip. i enjoyed my interaction with them, and fully intend on taking up their offer to put up at their place in perth next year. but i should probably save that, and other travel plans, for tomorrow's post.

to sum things up, 2017 doesn't really hold many pleasant memories for me. actually, that goes for unpleasant memories too. overall, i guess the unpleasant memories slightly win out, only because they're larger in magnitude. having said that, i am still grateful that i've made it through another year in good health, with no major problems, and in a slightly better state than last year. if there was one day out of the 365 that i'd choose to repeat, it would probably be hanging out with chemical engineer cousin and my cousin-in-law, or maybe any of the 4 full days in bali. with any luck, next year will be better, but i'll save discussing that for tomorrow.

-random thought of the day: Stay positive.-
Decided to start my year-end post a little earlier this year, instead of in the evenings/nights as i've been prone to do for the past few years. like i said, i'll post 2 drafts about the relationship which i'd written earlier in the year. in case you want to skip them, i'll indicate when they end. bear in mind that they were correct at the time which they were written, and some things have changed significantly since then.

post 1
*Started on Tuesday 13 June 2017, 01:24am*


Really hoping that this post never sees the light of day. because if it does, it probably means that the date and i have broken up. that's partially inaccurate, since we never officially got together in the first place. "that we're no longer dating" would be the best way to phrase it. i've been troubled by this over the past 2 weeks, and have met up with a few friends to discuss this and get their opinions. most of them are about the same - if the date is still uncertain after 1.5 years, they're probably not all that into me. i can see the logic and sense in this perspective, because i feel similarly too. yet, there are little things that the date does which ignite a small spark of hope. the most impactful one in recent memory was when we went for dinner to celebrate the mother's birthday. the date, being fond of taking photos, took a fair few shots of all of us. they then created a whatsapp group titled "family" to share the photos. it may not seem like much, but it was a huge deal to me. they downplayed it as usual, so i don't know by how much to be impacted by it. maybe it really was the first thing that came to mind, or the most convenient.

allow me to be selfish here. i want a partner who is as into me as i am into them. with the date, it seems that i am always the one reaching across to bridge the gap. case in point: during the drive home after saturday's date, the date asked me, "why aren't you holding my hand?" (side note: i usually have my left hand free for hand-holding, all while driving safely, of course). i didn't know how to answer then. if i were being honest, i guess my answer would be something like "because i want you to take the initiative to do it". physical touch is my strongest love language, as i think i've mentioned before. and to constantly have to ask for that kind of affection is wearing me out. to be fair, the date doesn't refuse me that often in that aspect. but being accommodating isn't the same as being proactive.

i suppose the biggest roadblock is that the date doesn't find me physically attractive enough. honestly, if i were giving advice to a friend who was in a similar predicament, i'd probably tell him to cut and run. it's not a good sign when the other party can't accept you as you are, i think. i'm reminded of my chemical engineer cousin's message to me, more than 2 years ago. "I will pray for you to be happy, healthy and well. That you will find someone someday who makes your heart sing. That you will experience all the joy of life and love. And that people will accept you for you." it's pretty self-explanatory, isn't it? right now, it seems that the date is - for lack of a better word - tolerating my negative aspects. or aspects that they deem to be negative, at any rate. i agree with some of them, but others, not so much. still, i guess i have done my best to fit into their idealized image. perhaps it's ok to not be their definition of perfect. a few of my friends have warned me not to lose sight of myself while dating. perhaps this is what they're talking about.

speaking about that, i guess that there's always been an element of imbalance in the relationship. to put it not-so-nicely, the relationship has a few double standards. again, this is purely my perspective, and whether i'm right or wrong, i believe that i'm entitled to feel the way i feel (within reason). so it seems to me that i'm giving more in the relationship. it's ok...or at least it would be, if there was an acceptable level of reciprocation. my acceptable level is probably 75:25. right now, it feels like 90:10. the date does pull their own weight in terms of finances, so i'm fine with that. i'm just not fine with the level of emotional investment that i perceive. the bare minimum of not seeing anyone else is there, and there are some perks, like i'm the only one they'll meet after a tiring day at the office. but to me, that's so easy to do! my idea of a solid sign of emotional investment would be a couples overseas trip or staycation. guess it's really difference in personality. the other thing about double standards is that the date has things which they simply won't compromise on (magic), and yet they expect me to bend my values to accommodate them. kind of a "my way or the highway" policy. my scary friend says that i'm partially to blame for this one. why? because i let the date get away with it before, and established a precedent. had i known, i would never have chased them down that new year's eve. perhaps we might have just stopped dating then.

occasionally, i wonder why the date is this way. my best hypothesis so far is that the date used to be in my shoes in their previous relationship. eager to please the ex, willing to do almost anything to keep the relationship going. and the ex basically stepped on all of that. maybe the date doesn't want to put themself in that vulnerable position again? it sounds plausible to me. at the same time, i think that the date is forgetting that i'm not the ex! i would treat their heart with so much more care. but something is making them hold back. the fear of being hurt again, i guess. you'd think that i'd have proven myself over these 1.5 years though, wouldn't you? apparently not. it makes me a bit fearful for myself. will i become like that in the future, after this experience? i really hope not, and will do everything in my power to prevent it.

examining the relationship from a practical aspect, the date and i have very few interests in common. i suppose it's because my interests are limited to lab and the occasional game. that's still not a deal-breaker. i quite disapprove of the date's penchant for changing phones frequently. i think they might have picked up on it, because just this past sunday, we went to bugis on their suggestion. they went to see a newly-launched phone, and after dinner, they led me towards the national library, which was weird because we'd usually stay within the mall. walking past a phone shop, the date turned in. i asked "are you going to buy that phone?", to which they replied "maybe". they then proceeded to give the salesperson their contact number as proof that they had preordered the phone. for some reason, this upset me a fair bit, although i didn't show it. is it so hard to be truthful to me? just say "let's go to bugis today, i've ordered a new phone". i might remind them to watch their finances, but i wouldn't refuse. besides, what could i do? make them cancel the order? it hurts a bit, to know that the date would lie about something so trivial. and on a more serious note, it makes me feel that i am there for convenience more than anything, like all i have to do is follow instructions. it's quite annoying to not be told about the big plan. it's not the first time, either. like there was once the date said that they couldn't meet me because they had something on. that "something" turned out to be collecting a phone. the explanation after that was that they didn't know how long the collection would take, and didn't want to keep me waiting. THEN WHY NOT JUST SAY THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE??? i don't understand what pleasure the date gets in withholding these little things from me. sometimes i ask, and they say that a couple should have some secrets. yes, i agree, but why keep something so trivial a secret!?? maybe i should be thankful that the secrets are of this level, instead of "i've been seeing someone behind your back" or "i actually have HIV".

you know, i've said many times before that love is a choice. and i still stand by that statement. but i think i have to develop this thought a bit more. it's easy to choose to love someone when everything is going well. it's possible to choose to love someone when the both of you are faced with external pressure, because you two are a team and can work together. although it'll be difficult, a couple can even choose to love each other when things are going rough, like during arguments. that choice is made with the faith that things will blow over soon. but for me at least, it becomes more and more difficult to choose to love someone when that person doesn't (or can't) choose to love me back. i guess i've more or less reached the end of my rope. i hope i'm not being unreasonable here. the popular opinion is that i have the patience of a saint, or am completely crazy, to be at the dating phase for 18+ months. to be honest, i more or less consider the date my partner...but it seems to be a one-way thing.

forgive me, for i am going to be very cynical here. i sometimes wonder if the date is leading me on, or just keeping me around out of convenience. maybe they think that by holding out on me, i might be motivated to chase them more aggressively, or do more things for them, or work harder to fit into their idea of "perfect", or whatever. it would work, if it was balanced well enough. in this case, it wasn't. it feels like i'm running up against a wall, you know? granted, quantum physics says that if you do it long enough, you'll eventually teleport over to the other side. but i'm not an electron. and if that's the date's idea of how to keep a relationship going, i would have to disagree. in fact, being more intimate and affectionate would increase my willingness/motivation more. i'm more receptive to positive reinforcement. besides, if i would go to the airport at 3:00am to pick one of the chemistry guys up, all the more i would do something of that magnitude for the date. there was never any need to play hard to get, or whatever this is.

to be fair, the date does make me happy. or maybe by now that "does" should be "did". i enjoyed our dates (at least those of which that we didn't argue, which is the majority), i appreciated their gifts (although i really don't need more slippers, shirts, or portable gaming devices). i actually did wonder whether the date was buying me all that stuff to make up for being unable/unwilling to speak my love languages (incidentally, receiving gifts is my weakest love language). but well, i think it's too late to think about that now. of all the things that the date has got me, guess which one i treasured the most? it was the one and only dinner that they cooked for me, late in 2015 when we agreed to give dating a second try. i've occasionally asked when it would happen again, and the answer was usually "never!". again, i don't know if it's meant as a joke, or if it was serious. whatever way it was meant, i think that the delivery could be improved.

well, i guess my path ahead is becoming clearer and clearer. it seems that this post will eventually be published, after all. now the only question is when. i'm thinking of seeing how things go until the end of the month. that sounds like a reasonable time.


post 2
*Started on Saturday 12 August 2017, 11:56pm*


Starting this post at this current point in time may not be the best idea, considering that i'm at a staycation with the partner. but then, something happened earlier today that really left me thinking, so much so that i figured i should make an attempt to look at it objectively.

the issue here is one of intimacy. physical intimacy, to be precise. the partner has been rather resistant to umm...being even more intimate than we are now. the reason i was given is that they take a while to warm up to people. just keep that at the back of your head for a minute while i digress to say that i'm a scientist, and my brain works predominantly by drawing logical conlusions from data, evidence, and historical precedents. and when there's inconistency, i can usually pick up on it. which led me to pick up on this glaring inconsistency. the partner has told me that they were intimate with the ex, and that there were several other people with whom they had been intimate while not in a relationship. that's fine and well; i'm not one to judge a person's past (too much). and here's the inconsistency - why's it taking so long with me? bear in mind that the entire relationship with their ex was about 7 months. we've been seeing each other for what, 3 times that duration? and still i'm being fed the "i'm not feeling it" line. the partner has told me to my face that they're not physically attracted to me in the past, so that could be a possible reason and they're trying not to hurt me by not mentioning it again.

if that's the case, perhaps it's a sign that the relationship won't last. yes, i know that that last sentence probably makes it sound like my sole objective is to get into the partner's pants, with no regard for their feelings. let me set the record straight. i don't think physical intimacy on that level is THE most important thing in a relationship. having said that, it is still A thing. i was doing some reading out of curiousity, and read that depriving a spouse of physical relations is grounds for a divorce. note that a gender-neutral term is used here, meaning that it applies to both husbands denying their wives, and wives denying their husbands.

i was just thinking, i wouldn't be so bothered if it was more consistent, ie. if the partner held back this much with the ex. that's why i said that i draw conclusions basd on historical precedent. i attempted to rationalize this with the partner, to which they replied "i don't see why i should follow precedent". maybe that's valid when it comes to this sort of matter? i don't know.

so anyway, all this led me to think about differences. i do believe that any two people can be in a relationship with each other, if they work hard enough at it. well, maybe not any. let's go with "most". but at the same time, i also think that it would be easier if people with more in common were to begin a relationship, as opposed to people who are polar opposites, or can't agree on major issues. like one of my friend's relationships ended because they couldn't agree on religion. is a disagreement about this physical intimacy issue significant enough to end a relationship? as it applies to us, i'd actually say yes. correct me if i'm wrong, but i don't think i'm being unreasonable. i'm not demanding it every day, or even every week. i have even tried to understand the reason(s) behind the partner's reluctance. and so far, all i've taken away is that they're simply not ready.

based on the limited amount of data i have, i can come up with the following hypotheses:

(1) the partner isn't physically attracted to me, and therefore doesn't want to be intimate.

(2) (based off of the above hypothesis) the partner is doing this to push me towards working out more and becoming more attractive.

(3) the partner doesn't feel that that kind of intimacy is essential to or needed in a relationship.

(4) (extremely unlikely, but for the sake of completeness) the partner is fulfilling that need with someone else.

if it's either (1) or (3), perhaps our difference of opinion can't be resolved. look, i'm not saying that this is something owed to me. i just don't understand the hang-up about it. and if the partner is so unable or unwilling, perhaps we should find different people who are more in line with our respective ideals.

if it's (2), i'd rather the partner come clean about it. at least it helps me to understand. and having understood it, i would say that someone with this kind of carrot-and-stick (or maybe carrot-or-no-carrot in this case) mentality towards physical intimacy is not the one for me. i don't believe in withholding affection and intimacy for a prolonged duration. and 21 months is indeed prolonged, no matter how you look at it.

to be honest, i'm getting a little frustrated at the whole situation. i'm not alone in this; the partner has voiced their frustration too, but at a different thing. they're frustrated that i keep harping on the subject. i will admit that i may have been wanting to discuss it a little too much recently, if only out of desire to understand the other point of view. i'm just afraid that all this frustration will build and evolve into resentment, at which point i think there will be no saving the situation. you know how it goes...you're so conditioned to receiving a negative reply that you simply stop attempting to address the issue. and everything goes downhill from there.

let me just add on that i still completely don't understand the partner's reluctance. we've had several conversations about this. i've asked if it was a location issue (not at home out of respect for the mother, which i understand). apparently not, because we're having our third staycation now, and things aren't happening despite it being neutral territory. it's not a health issue either (none of us have any diseases), so my conclusion is that it's all in the partner's head. that's the best i can come up with assuming i've been told nothing but the truth. and still, i don't get it. the partner says that they feel pressure. from what? to be honest, they're better-looking than me, in better shape, more experienced, so i completely don't get where the pressure is coming from. if anything, i should be the nervous wreck!

i brought up the difference between acceptance and tolerance during one of our previous conversations. not sure if i said this before, but i have felt on more than once occasion that the partner was just tolerating me. like, they don't seem "in love" with me. if that's the case, perhaps we're not the right ones for each other. being with someone should make you happy, and ideally you should embrace them for who they are. i for one believe that people should be allowed to chase their happiness (provided nobody else is hurt), and not settle for what is comfortable. the partner makes me happy, yet at the same time i think that i'm not fully happy, something that this post might have clued you in on.

for completeness' sake again, i suppose i should write about the out-of-the-box solution. so far we have (1) i bear it, (2) the partner moves things forward, (3) we break up. solution 4 is something which i have only heard about, and that's an open relationship. to be frank, i'd rather break up. the reason i say that is because my understanding of open relationships is that your body can be on the market, but your heart still belongs only to your partner. seeing as my primary love language is physical touch, i'm afraid that i'll fall for someone upon becoming intimate. that would hurt everyone all around, so no. was an interesting thought to entertain, though.

you know, i can't measure feelings or readiness, especially since they're prone to rapid fluctuation. to my scientist brain, the only objective measure i have left is time. i really think that if left alone, nothing will move. i've had a historical precedent already - i told the partner not to keep me waiting about progressing our relationship, and nothing happened until i took action months later. i have a timeframe in mind already, but let's see how things go.

END

quick executive decision...it seems that this post is already too long, so i'll publish this first, then start my year-end content in a new post. stay tuned!

-random thought of the day: Lucky I started early this year.-

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas is over, and we're in the last week of the year. this year's christmas was less festive than last year's, but i'm ok with that. i got a surprise present from one of the guys in the lab, in the form of a multi-tool and torch combination. it seems that he went to the trouble of choosing different presents for everyone, and i must say, he did a really good job. out of all the presents that everyone got, i wouldn't trade mine for any one else's. except maybe the large plush mickey mouse glove pillow, but that's just for the novelty. i was/am rather surprised that he read me that well to get such an appropriate gift. i should get something nice for him in return. let's see...his interests include books, ice skating, and chinese orchestra. that's it! a book on how to play the flute on ice! ok no. not because it's a bad gift idea, but because i doubt such a book exists. well...i'll buy a suitable gift soon.

the usual chemistry friends christmas thing was nice. plenty of food and good conversation. plus, i finally met the fiancee of one of my friends! remember i helped to decorate a hotel room for the proposal? my friend's (the host's) kids are noticeably older. like, the older one can talk more or less coherently, and the younger one can walk. they are really the only reason why i MIGHT reconsider my decision to not have kids. for kids of their age, they are remarkably well-behaved! no unnecessary/random outbursts, polite, and interacting well with almost everyone. there was a super super negative example, though. one of my friends was babysitting for his other friend, and brought the kids to the party. i think they were 7 and 5, or was it 9 and 7? the older girl was well-behaved enough, but the younger boy...oh my goodness. running and jumping all over the place, even off the living room table and onto the sofa. bear in mind that this is at someone else's house. at least my friend (the host) was gracious enough to not make a big deal out of it. i really think that i may be better off i stick to the original plan of babysitting for my friends.

also this christmas, two things happened involving the ex. one directly, one indirectly. indirect first. one of my JC friends (the one whom i can't handle too much of) met the ex at a final fantasy TCG event or something. and not knowing that we're no longer together, he took a photo with the ex and sent it to me. i really didn't know how to react. at least he was apologetic when he found out about the breakup, so that's forgivable. still didn't really do me any good. the direct thing involving the ex was that they whatsapped me a christmas greeting. even now, i am still undecided on how to handle communications from the ex. i'm not sure if i can even maintain a cordial relationship with them. given our past, and knowing that they felt i wasn't good enough for them, it doesn't really provide strong motivation for me to associate with them right? oh well. i think this is also advance warning to me, don't date within the workplace. while it did work out for four(!) of my friends, i probably don't have their luck as far as relationships go.

for school matters, i'm due to present at the year-end thing. but you knew that already. turns out my senior isn't going to present, so that means i'm first in line. the thing is 32 hours away, and i haven't started my slides yet. luckily i have last year's stuff to fall back on. just need a few edits. i went to the department office to find out a bit more about thesis requirements, and it seems that there's a whole bunch of formatting that i have to follow. one interesting guideline was that the margins have to be 1.5 inches on either side of the page. no wonder my seniors managed around 40 pages of introduction! i've done the formatting, and my thesis now looks so much longer. plus, there is a length guideline, and that's 40000 words for a science thesis (i'm assuming references and experimental sections are excluded). between the two finished chapters, i've got about 16000 already. not bad. just 8000 words per chapter on average for each of the 3 chapters to go. should be doable. arts and law theses are double that length, which is quite terrifying. then again, i guess maybe it's because the citation style differs, and there's more quoting from source text.

while at the department office, i also asked about money matters, and it seems that i'll be paying school fees no matter what since a fee waiver is out of the question. i suppose i have to ask the undergrad lab TA coordinator if there are additional TA slots available. apart from that, i also asked my friend to keep an eye out for tuition opportunities. he has one ready on hand, which is a tuition centre job, teaching maths. bet you never saw that coming right? i didn't think i'd see the day where i would be teaching maths either. at least it's at the secondary level, which i should be more or less capable of. hoping for some chemistry jobs to materialize, though i'm not sure how that will go.

next major hurdle is the aforementioned year-end presentation. after that, there's more lab work to be done. should still be on track as per the earlier timeline. three chapters finished by early to mid-january, then another one by early february, and the last by early march. not forgetting the preface for the thesis, like acknowledgements, the various lists, summary, contents. hope things will come together nicely.

-random thought of the day: Slightly unwell.-

Thursday, December 21, 2017

With only 10 days until 2017 is over, i've begun to feel a little more...broody. it usually starts a little earlier in december, but i guess other things have preoccupied me sufficiently to delay the onset of brooding. there have been several things happening since the last post, most of them not good. i'll therefore have to ask for your forbearance.

where do i even begin? i suppose i'll just go with whatever comes to mind and take it from there. at the forefront of my mind is that driving for grab may suddenly be more costly and inconvenient than i'd thought. you see, my cousin sold his commercially-registered car, and got a private one as a replacement. i only knew about it when my aunt mentioned it offhandedly yesterday. although i don't have much right to be, i'm actually a bit upset. problem is, i don't know what i'm upset about - that he did it, or that he didn't at least inform me first. what's worse is that we just talked about me borrowing his car last week! well...it's done, so not much i can do. i do know that there are several reasons as to why he did it, and looking at it objectively, i can understand why. but as you know, feelings are irrational. with this development, it seems that i have no choice but to rent a car, unless i can reach a similar deal with someone else whose car has already been converted. to my knowledge though, nobody else i know has a private hire car, and converting my own is not worth the outlay of about $1000. luckily, grab has partnered with a couple of rental companies for special rates on car rental. the two companies so far are tribecar and whizzcar. their fee structures are a little different...tribecar is more straightforward i think, with a flat per-hour charge, plus any petrol that you use. whizzcar operates on both time and distance, which is a bit more confusing. they charge by time first (initial hour, then in half-hour blocks), and also by distance (some absurdly-low number of free km, then on a per-km basis). the redeeming point for whizcar is that they don't charge you for petrol, but that's accounted for in the per-km fee i think. the most annoying thing about renting a car is that i have to return it strictly by a certain time, which means that i'd have to sacrifice a pickup if it wasn't going to sengkang. whereas if i borrowed my cousin's car, everything would be negotiable and flexible. haven't made a thorough evaluation yet, so i'm not sure which one i'll be going for, or if i'll go for any at all.

considering that i'm thinking of quitting in the face of this difficult circumstance, does it mean that i'm part of the strawberry generation of people who give up at the first sign of adversity? honestly, i don't know. while it will become extremely inconvenient (and perhaps cost-ineffective) to continue with the grab plan, i'm sure there's still a way to make money. either i take more trips, or longer trips. or maybe source for someone who owns a private-hire car and is willing to swap. there are alternative jobs, like pawshake (pet-sitting and pet care). and tuition, let's not forget that. the problem will be fitting everything nicely into my available times. it would be much better and more flexible if i didn't need any more lab time, but that's not happening soon. on a semi-related note, i have been toying with the idea of starting a small business. i know the basic principle. you identify a need which you can fulfill, and start from there. ideally, only you have the expertise/materials to fulfill that need. as for how it applies to me, my niche areas are basically chemistry, judo (not so much any more), driving, cooking (to a tiny extent), writing, maybe dogs. i'm not sure what potential business ideas can spring forth from those things. and i don't have much social media pull, either. this blog has about 53400 pageviews since blogger started tracking. some people get that in a day, or even an hour! i really don't know what to do. guess i'll sit on this for a while.

looks like i'm slated to present for the year-end seminar thing after all. my professor ordered the speakers by seniority, which means i'll be the second to speak. or first, if my senior somehow gets excused. and it starts at 9:00am. joy. well, on the bright side, this will be my last big presentation (excluding thesis defense). have to get the powerpoint done by monday or tuesday. good news is that my 2 thesis chapters are more or less good to go for submission. just need to read through for typos and formatting. the third chapter is about 65% done. need to put in some additional figures and finish the supporting info. maybe bulk up the main body even more too. i roughly know how the fourth chapter will look like, so that should be easier to write. but the last chapter might be problematic, considering I STILL NEED TO STICK A DRUG ON THE DAMNED THING. whoops. minor outburst there. what gives me hope is that a dye molecule has been successfully linked to the modified linker. i just hope it survives the next two steps. if it does, we're home free.

sucks to worry about money. thankfully i'm not desperate yet, otherwise i might even consider selling the car. i hate being under so much pressure. perhaps if i had joined this professor's lab from the get-go, things would be different. i might even have already defended my thesis by now. i can dream/fantasize, right? think i really should pay a visit to the UHC. i don't feel all that healthy mentally.

-random thought of the day: Keep holding on.-

Friday, December 15, 2017

Forget just "not sleeping well", yesterday was the worst insomniac night by far in recent memory. i didn't sleep until like, later than 6:00am this morning despite being in air-conditioned comfort. well, i suppose i can now say that i've been awake in the sengkang house for every single minute on the face of the clock over a 24-hour timespan. or i might have been able to say that earlier...i don't know. regardless, it's been horrible. i know that somehow or another, this will be over in the next 3 to 5 months. worst case is 8, but i'm not going to let it drag on that long.

as i was tossing and turning in bed, i decided to read some manga to get myself to sleep. not sure if that was a good or bad decision. bad because it didn't work, good because...i don't know. why might it have been a good decision again? maybe because it was good for me emotionally. i mainly read romance titles, about two people meeting, falling in love, all that stuff. there are a few common characteristics running through the various manga. (1) the main characters are childhood friends and/or schoolmates. (2) they drifted apart for a while, usually because one of them went away to study or work. one of the main characters may or may not have been mean to the other. (3) in some cases, one or both of them got attached/married to other people. if so, typically the spouse dies so that the main characters can be reunited. (4) kids may or may not feature in the story. if they do, their sole purpose is to bring the main characters closer. (5) one of the main characters will always be unable/reluctant to express love for the other main character until the climax of the story. (6) after they get together, a smaller conflict (in the form of a misunderstanding, or parents' disapproval) will usually appear to test their relationship and make them love/value each other more. out of the 20 or so titles i read, most typically end on an optimistic note, like "we're together now and ready to face whatever the future may bring". one manga really stands out because it follows the main characters from childhood to high school, university, work, retirement, old age, and finally death. along the way, kids, grandkids, and even great-grandkids feature in the story, although the latter two only appeared in the final chapter. it was quite a refreshing change, actually. what's more, it was almost like two stories in one, since the story touched on the main characters' kid's love life too. it showed a contrast between the kid and the parents, and how love can take different paths.

i did wonder whether japan is really like how it's depicted in the various manga. with luck, i may find a nice japanese person resembling one of the manga main characters in both looks and personality. although given my luck, i'll probably be the short-lived fling/date, or worse - drunken one night stand - that helps the main character discover that they don't love me, and their love for the other main character is still there and stronger than ever. as i was reading, i realize that i actually still do want to live in japan. at least for a while, for the experience. if i meet a nice japanese person, that would be a great bonus. perhaps i will apply for the JET program after all, assuming that i can finish with NUS by this march. that'll give me about 8 months to get ready for JLPT N2. or perhaps i should take N3 for a higher chance of passing? still plenty of time to think about it. besides, i'll probably request for a placement test just to recalibrate and find out where my level stands after some years of rust. and i just found out that japanese language courses under the school i used to go to are claimable under skillsfuture! what a lovely surprise. but let's focus on one thing at a time. thesis first.

speaking of which, my writer's block is basically gone. all it took was one lab day to remind me how much i'd rather be writing than doing experiments, and that got rid of it. the current chapter (second in thesis order, third to be written) is coming along ok, though i think it might be a bit short. we're looking at...13 pages right now excluding supporting info, 20 inclusive. with luck i might be able to push to 25, but that'll probably be the very very maximum. hopefully the fourth and fifth chapters will be around 25-30 pages each. let's do a quick count. chapter 1 has 45 pages all in, chapter 2 has 20, chapters 3 and 4 unknown as of now, and 5 has 48. 113 pages so far. maybe an additional 15 for all the contents, summary, lists of tables, figures, schemes, abbreviations, and that's 128 pages out of a potential 200-250. aiming for the middle of the range (225), that means i need chapters 3 and 4 to be about 48 pages long each. gosh. that might be challenging. or it might not, since chapter 2 is still about 50% written only. just have to stay the course and persevere, though it gets tough sometimes. i've thought about going to see the university counsellors, but i'm not sure if i REALLY need it. then again, i might, given the weird sleeping patterns. it doesn't seem normal.

the manga has also given me stuff to think about in relation to my own relationship. i wonder, was the reason we didn't make it because we didn't have a big enough conflict to help strengthen our bond? i mean, most things were smooth sailing. the mother approved of me (i think), and we didn't really have to suffer through any hardship like long-distance dating, or financial instability. or perhaps we didn't even make it past the first major conflict - differing opinions on physical intimacy. well...maybe i might explore this more in the end-of-year post. this year's edition will be a bit special/different, in that i'm going to show you all drafts of two posts which i'd written while we were going through the rough patch. one was posted in a modified form, while the other hasn't been. but the contents are basically whatever i felt was wrong with the relationship, so i suppose it won't be much of a surprise when you read it. in fact, it might be repetitive.

let's see...upcoming events. party tomorrow, plus i'm going down to the grab office at midview city first to apply for the PVDL (they have free parking on saturdays). i also need to switch telcos next monday. originally thought of doing it at waterway point, but i realized going to IMM would make more sense. it's closer to the lab, plus first 2 hours of parking is free. might go back to the lab on sunday to run a column, provided we have the solvents. i don't seem to recall there being any hexane though. have to drop in tomorrow to check.

-random thought of the day: What's wrong with me?-

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

One of the worst things that could have happened has actually happened. i've been hit by writer's block...for my thesis, at least. ironic that i can still blog, right? made SOME progress on a new chapter today. i decided to reorganize a little, so that there's a clearer division of my main project, which makes more sense. it gives me an additional chapter too! got the basic skeleton of the chapter set up, and fleshed it out a bit. it contains 12 pages at the moment, with some figures and stuff to go. hopefully i can push it to between 20 to 25. as i was writing, i was crazy grateful that i'd taken in some undergrad students. i just had to look back at their work and copy/paste over with modifications. but most importantly, they have the supporting information done up so nicely! all the characterization data is there, as well as all the spectra. saves me a ton of work. i think my new plan is to have 3 chapters done by the end of this year, or at least by early (before the 10th) january next year. definitely doable. then, one more chapter by end-january, and the last chapter by late february to early march (also dependent on experimental results). that gives time for a few weeks' worth of bouncing revisions back and forth with my professor, before submission on or slightly before 30 march.

as for the job situation, one last thing i have to explore is asking the department if they have short-term jobs available. most likely looking at a TA thing, which pays about $1800 per lab module per semester for a grad student. so taking 2 lab classes would basically cover my school fees. again, i'm not too optimistic, because there are tons of other grad students who need the teaching hours. but i figure that never ask never know, right? i suppose an alternative would be to do part-time scientific officer, but that's also dependent on whether the teaching labs have vacancies (signs point to no i think). of course, should the NUS thing not happen, i've also been looking at other alternatives. i just had dinner with my cousin at waterway point this past sunday, and i was asking him about borrowing his car to drive grabcar. why use his car and not my own? because during his short unemployed period earlier this year, he converted his car to a commercial vehicle so he could drive grabcar as a temporary measure. the conversion comes with some additional costs i think, mainly insurance-related. not to mention the hassle and waiting time. so i figured that since he has one already set up, why not i just jump on it and go? thankfully he agreed, since he says that his car can be put to better use if i'm taking advantage of the commercial vehicle status. so next question: uber or grab? both offer pretty much the same signup bonuses, namely waiver of practically all fees. there's a bit that we still have to pay, but that's claimable through skillsfuture, so it's effectively $0 out-of-pocket. the commission taken by both companies is also the same - 20% of the fare. just browsing around a bit shows that uber generally attracts more negative reviews. i figure that since i don't have car rentals to tie me down, i can jump ship as often as i please. so, the plan is to start with grab, then see how things go from there. it won't be that soon though; still have to get a private-hire car driver vocational license, or PDVL for short. then, remind my cousin to add my name to the insurance, and undergo some training and a test at the singapore taxi academy. did you know such a thing existed? because i sure didn't know before i went to read up on what to do. and i just saw its location on google maps. surprising, how inaccessible it is despite being located in town-ish area.

grab aside, i've also explored other things. seems like my cousin really did his research in those few months. he recommended two other platforms to me - qourier and pawshake. the former is a courier service, just basic delivery of stuff to some specified location. would be great if this could synergize with my grab trips, or commute to and from the lab. pawshake is a platform that allows pet owners to search for service providers. services include bringing dogs for walks, house-sitting, cat-sitting, among others. apparently there's an option for exotic pets too, like lizards, snakes, or insects. doubt i'll be touching that category, though. i can probably manage dogs, and cats to a somewhat lesser degree. wonder if i have any cheap red lasers lying around...

with all these things on the horizon, i'm just hoping that i can stay ahead of my expenses. with luck, i may not need to take out a loan for next semester's school fees. you know, it seems that money-making opportunities are out there. it's just a matter of whether someone chooses to take them or not. having said all that though, graduation still remains my top priority. hoping that a lab day tomorrow will clear the writer's block.

-random thought of the day: Haven't been sleeping well.-

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The past week has been kind of rough. having to juggle between thesis writing and experiments isn't really something i'm good at. i'm reminded of a japanese proverb - 二兎を追う者は一兎をも得ず (pronounced "nito wo ou mono wa itto wo mo ezu" reminder that "wo" is pronounced "o", but is spelled differently to distinguish the different japanese characters). quite literally translated, it means "the person who (simultaneously) pursues two rabbits won't even obtain/catch one". it makes sense, i guess. i personally find it really difficult to switch between writing mode and lab mode, which are my current two metaphorical rabbits. almost makes me want to give up on lab work temporarily and smash out a 90% complete thesis, then go back to experiments and finish those up, before wrapping up the thesis with the results obtained.

good news, though! the introduction is written to the point of being 7788 finished. it's a chinese colloquial expression that means "almost". it took me about 8 days...or maybe more, but i remember last saturday as the day i really sat down to give it structure and to properly start the references. looking back, 8 days does seem a little short. considering the main text is about 8800 words long and spans about 34 pages, that means i wrote an average of 1100 words and over 4 pages a day? can't be. i know page number is inaccurate, because i have some figures that take up significant space. or based on word count, it might be possible...i remember some pieces of fanfiction i wrote a few years ago having 3000-7000 words, and each piece was done in about a weekend. not forgetting my epic disaster of a first piece. i've deleted it off the site, so i don't remember how many words it had. i do remember about 29 or 32 chapters, though some were only a few hundred words long. oh! i found it in an archive on my computer. 30155 words over 28 chapters. i was going to link the most epic (in a good way this time) fanfiction that i've ever read, but it seems the author has taken it off the internet. that piece was practically a novel. 100000+ words (or more!) over 72 chapters. i hope the author puts it back up soon.

but i digress. so, overall thesis completion stands at 2 more-or-less complete chapters out of a total of 5, with one more in the writing. i'd conservatively say that about 45% of the work is done. the remaining chapters will be more challenging though, since they include experimental and characterization information. not really looking forward to transcribe NMR data again. i think my minions have done that for their own reports, and since their work is a part of my work, i can just use their data. that's a relief. for once, i'm far far ahead of the deadline that my professor set for year-end reports. i've already told him that i'd only be submitting my 2 complete chapters at the end of the year, and he seemed ok with that. so...3 chapters to go in more than 3 months. suddenly, it seems more doable than before.

although december is usually the time where i spend the most money, this year's holiday season looks good/safe for my wallet. nothing much to spend on! maybe a couple of cheap gifts for the christmas gatherings i'll be attending ("cheap" was a rule set by the organizers - presents under $10), but other than that, i don't foresee major expenditure. well, maybe groceries, but that's it. i'm more or less prepared for my entire december (and january, if i get one) paycheck to go into tanking school fees. looking at my current balance, it seems that i will have to dip into my savings to some extent, unless i can get a short-term loan from someone to offset my school fees. might consider asking around. at times like these, it's helpful to have friends much further along in life than you are.

speaking of gatherings, i know that i'm set for 3 gatherings within the next fortnight. christmas dinner with the extended family on 14 december comes first. it's a bit weird to have it on a thursday, but i guess weekend slots aren't available any more. after that comes a hotel party/mini staycation with another group of friends over 16-17 december. not too sure if i really want to go for that one though. i know there'll be lots of drinking and general rowdiness. last but not least, the annual chemistry guys thing is on 23 december. not sure yet, but i think it might clash with my lab party. then again, nobody in the lab confirmed any dates, so oh well. i won't be long for the lab anyway, and they probably won't miss me all that much. funny how everything is happening before christmas. good thing too, i suppose, considering my professor wants to hold the year-end seminar earlier this year, just a few days after christmas. i'll see if i can get out of speaking, since i'm this close to finishing my time in the lab. all that aside, the only two other significant things are the year-end post and the new year's post, as usual...and seeing about changing telcos. will have to incorporate thesis writing in between all of this, which i think i'm slightly more confident of now.

-random thought of the day: Still having weird dreams.-

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Before i begin today's thesis-writing session, i thought it might be good to clear my head of stray thoughts so that i can focus better.

if you know me and my group of chemistry friends decently well, you'd also know that i'm also known there as "batman". not because i'm as physically fit/capable as he is (i wish though!), but because of what happened during a drunk episode. personally, i'd like to think that there's another reason behind the nickname, and that would be because i possess reasonably good detective skills. somehow, putting together pieces of a puzzle to get a better picture comes relatively easily to me, without much effort involved on my part. maybe it's due to training to think analytically and logically? better yet, i sometimes stumble across some info by sheer luck/chance. and sometimes, i wish i wasn't so lucky, as was the case today.

what happened was that i stumbled across the ex's profile on the platform where we met. i wasn't deliberately looking out for it or anything, it just came out as they had replied to another post there. call me kaypoh or masochistic if you must, but i went on to see their activity on that platform. it turns out that they're already getting back into the dating scene, which means that they're over the conclusion of our relationship. i won't lie, i feel somewhat not entirely happy about that. you see, the ex took 3 years to get over their first relationship of 7 months. going purely by proportions, our 22-month relationship should take close to a decade to get over, instead of just the close-to 3 months that's it's been. if healing time was an indicator of how much a relationship meant to a person, then in the ex's eyes, our relationship was about 40 times less valuable than the one with their first ex. and let me just put it in perspective: their first ex lied to and cheated on them, among some other things. and yet, the ex still feels love for that person.

yes, i know you can't really measure affairs of the heart this way. i also know that i have no right to be upset that the ex is looking for potential partners so soon after our breakup. after all, we aren't accountable to each other any more, and i have that same freedom too...just that i'm choosing to focus my energy on submitting my thesis by 30 march next year. but one thing is for sure - i can see that the ex meant it when they said that they didn't love me. in fact, i am actually kind of questioning how much our relationship was actually worth in their eyes. well...it's history now, so no point thinking too much. it's just a thought that i wanted to get out of my head to avoid building up too much negativity. besides, i'll probably talk about the relationship in way more detail in my year-end post. i've even thought of the theme for this year already! that's due for publication in another 29 days or so...but for now, thesis first.

-random thought of the day: Humans are so difficult to understand.-

Sunday, November 26, 2017

I'm beginning to think that i may need some help. psychologically, that is. this thought was brought about by a bit of a freak-out episode i had yesterday, on the way back from lab. the reason for it was rather trivial, i suppose, and it was because my professor rejected the PR that i put in for chemicals which i need. i don't know why it was rejected, but i'm hoping that it was only because there was an error with inputting the company's name (somehow the drop-down list in the system didn't work), and not because he doesn't want to spend the money, or feels that it's not worth it. in the event that it's too expensive, i suppose i can cut down some quantities. but i shouldn't assume too much. have to ask him for the reason first before anything else.

writing is coming along ok-ishly. the enzyme chapter is basically finished, so that's about 20 to 25% of the work done. i'm just considering if i should split my preliminary work into 2 chapters, one for the initial proof of concept, and one for the synthesis of the prototype molecules. right now, the prospective chapter 2 looks really long. or maybe that's a good thing. should probably schedule a discussion with my professor soon. still have to ask him about applying for the fee waiver.

above all, i think i should remind myself that while this is probably the toughest thing i've faced so far, it won't be the toughest thing i'll ever do. and besides, things will pass with time. it's just that the outcome at the end of that time may vary. i won't lie, i'm afraid of being unable to graduate. but to be objective about it, i've never heard first-hand of anyone outright failing the thesis defense...not that i want to be the first. the worst i've heard so far was a re-defense in 2 weeks, and the candidate passed the second time around. guess i'll just have to see it through to the end. i've been in it for the past 4 years and 3 months, so i should be able to tahan another 5 to 8 months maximum. at least that's what i'm telling myself. just stay calm and do what i can, i think that's the best plan for now. not sure how calm i can stay, though. i've noticed that my breathing has been faster/shallower since yesterday. plus last night's sleep was not good. had yet another weird dream, though the contents elude me. one thing's for sure, i will need some recovery time between the end of this grad school journey and the start of the next one, be it work or JET program or whatever else decides to come my way. for now, i just have to keep it together and make progress every day. i'm sure that some way or another, things will work out.

seeing as how i'm so worried about thesis and all that, it's probably not exactly right of me to go and watch a movie. however, that's exactly what i did. caught thor: ragnarok at waterway point, and thinking about it, it's literally the first movie i've watched alone in about 2 years. and it was fine. thanks to my experiences growing up, i'm pretty ok with being alone most of the time. although i was kind of reminded why i don't watch movies in cinemas all that often, because with the advent of smartphones with big bright screens, some idiot will inevitably be checking messages or doing stuff on their phone in the theatre. unfortunately, the idiot this time round was seated in the same row as me, so i saw that stupid white glare out of the corner of my eye. i don't get it. you paid good money to watch the show. why aren't you WATCHING it? if something was that important, like if you were expecting an urgent call, maybe don't buy the ticket? or step out of the theatre to look at your phone. i think it's basic courtesy. if cinemas were to implement a mandatory phone surrender policy, i'd definitely go for it. maybe i'm better off streaming the shows at home.

the movie itself was nice. marvel is really raising the bar with each new movie. good balance of humour, drama, action. i enjoyed the storyline too, and was a little surprised at the direction they took. without giving away any spoilers, i'll just say that i'm happy they took some elements of the secondary storyline without bringing over the main conflict. that would have been messy and difficult to resolve. definitely worth a watch in the cinema, and bonus points if you don't meet any morons using their phones.

next week, my broad goal is to get the writing for the preliminary work chapter done. bonus if i can finish the supporting info too. have to make some more compounds for my postdoc to test as part of the additional work on the enzyme project, but that shouldn't be too difficult. above all, need to have a chat with my professor. i hope our wavelengths are somewhat in tune. and most importantly, i have to remember all the mental training that i had, and put it to use.

-random thought of the day: I can do it!-