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VID: Musical Science..

January 5, 2011

Charles Limb: Your brain on improv

He is a surgeon and musician who is doing research on how the brain functions when a person does musical improvisation. It is a little long but worth watching. He studied jazz musicians and rappers and he even raps at one point. So, if you want to see an Asia- fwd to 13:10 mins.

Shared by Zach.


Top Ten Things I’m Thankful for this Christmas (2010)

December 23, 2010

This is impromptu, so it’s all raw feelings. Ready? Here goes…

10. Mentors.

I count Dr. Marlow, Ms. Lanphear, Ms. Brown and Krista among them. They have helped me figure out my life after the disaster of 2009, piecing together the parts of me that I thought I had lost.

9. Chicken Noodle soup.

I have a sinus infection and that is pretty much what I’ve ate for the past few days. It is a miracle cure for helping me breath again..even if it is just for a 15 mins…

8. Heat.

I like it cold but it has been pretty chilly here and it makes me hope to never become a hobo because I have no idea how they do it.

7. The internet.

I bought cool presents for my friends through Amazon because there is no way I could have got them here through conventional ways like  sprinting through Wal-Mart/Mall.

6. An off campus apartment.

Usually during this time, I’m pooped from trying to clean my mess of a dorm room to pass inspection. But now that I live off campus, I can leave it a mess till I get back from Christmas !!!

5. Presents.

Come on. Everyone loves presents !!!

4. Food !!!

I always over eat at Christmas and I am thankful for my mom, Annie who can make anything delicious !!!

3. The best friends anyone could ever ask for.

Bethany, BreAnn, Katy, Brigitte and Augg are stars that make my life so much brighter…

2. My second family – The Mitchells.

They have invited me to spend Christmas with them as I’m miles away from home. They are my Christmas blessing.

1. A loving family who give me never ending support no matter how far away I am.

Merry Christmas to all !!! I hope you are with your family and appreciating the time you get to spend with them. As you stuff your face with delicious food, go into a present unwrapping frenzy and start getting annoyed because your brother/sister is sitting to close to you…I hope you find the time to reflect and make your own list of things that you are thankful for this Christmas and for the year of 2010.

Everything I need to learn about life, I got from Sesame Street…

December 12, 2010

I just finished reading All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. It is a collection of essays and short stories that are meant to help the reader reflect on simple kindergarten rules that are applicable to the ultra complicated, big, bad adult world.

A few of my favorites are:

1.       Play fair.

2.       Don’t hit people.

3.       Clean up your own mess.

4.       Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

5.       Take a nap every afternoon.

6.       When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

7.       Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the plastic cup – they all die. So do we.

This book made me reminisce of my kindergarten days and I came up with my own list of Life Gurus and the lessons they taught me…

Big Bird

When Big Bird identifies a problem he tries his best to solve it. He might not always be on the right track but whenever he comes to a dead end, he learns something from it and sets off again in search of a solution. Most importantly, he maintains a cheery disposition no matter how bleak it seems.

Lesson: Life stinks sometimes but have faith and don’t give up.

Aloysius Snuffleupagus started out as Big Bird’s imaginary friend and then became real. No one knows what a snuffleupagus is. Is he more wooly mammoth or professional dancer? Who cares?

Lesson 1: Sometimes, you just have to imagine hard enough, tell enough people and wait it out to make your imagination a reality.

Lesson 2: You don’t have to be a <insert stereotype here>. Be who you are and people will love you for it.

Bert and Ernie are best friends with their share of squabbles. Sometimes, friends may take advantage of each other, fight and disagree. But in the end, if you wake up in the middle of the night with a great idea or problem, he/she will be there to listen to you. Lesson: Real friends are there for you no matter how annoying you get.

His name says it all. Grouch shows us that sometimes you want your own space and sometimes you are just in a bad mood, but there are consequences. You can have your own space in front of your trash can but if you keep pushing people away there will eventually be no one left for you to yell at.

Lesson: It’s ok to be cranky sometimes but appreciate the friends who give you space and come back to check on you.

Elmo  is the epitome of the “you-can-do-anything-attitude”. No matter what, there is always a positive side. He almost always starts his sentences with his name…”Elmo wants” and “Elmo is” because he believes in himself.

Lesson: If you think, say and know you can do it, other people will believe it too.

Grover always has good intentions, but his efforts are usually thwarted by bumbles and faults like his knight’s helmet that slams shut at inopportune moments. Nonetheless, if you have a good heart, those things can be overcome.

Lesson: You cannot be perfect, so the important thing is to care enough to try.

The Count is the essence of perseverance and appreciation. No matter what, The Count always appreciates having something to count (or count on)  and is always looking forward to the next number. Even as bats are flying around and into him he focuses on counting the next thing, whether it be cobwebs, spiders or blessings.

Lesson: Just keep counting…Just keep counting… (singsong voice)

Kermit is a wise sensei. He is usually pressing his lips together as he mulls over a situation. He always thinks before he speaks and offers deep, well thought out comments that turn out to be solutions for a difficult problem.

Lesson: Stay calm and think before you act.

The Ultimate Sensei

Cookie is my absolute favorite and I am an avid follower of his teachings. He is committed to cookies, that’s his passion. From time to time he attempts to convey his passion through various arts like poetry, art, and song. He isn’t worried about whether other people “get” his passion or if they think it’s stupid. What’s important is that he’s happy and is just trying to share that joy with others. Personally think it is a crime that they are making him eat vegetables now, because it taints his message for the world’s children. His philosophy is simple: When the going gets rough, something sweet, soft and gooey can make you feel better. Whether it’s a cookie, a nice complement or a big hug…

Lesson: Revel in your passion and don’t hesitate to share sweet, soft and gooey somethings.

Which muppet or other character from a children’s show made the biggest impact on your life? What important life lesson did you learn from him/her???

Flash Mob @ 1U to Raise Awareness About Child Abuse

December 9, 2010

Unicef is organising a campaign against child abuse, Get on Board. RandomAlphabets supported it by organizing a flashmob on Universal Children’s Day, Saturday 20 November 2010. Here’s what happened.

These people are actively doing something to raise awareness for the fight against child abuse. Filmed at 1U Shopping Mall, Bandar Utama, Malaysia.

<<CLICK>> I want more info. <<CLICK>>

Shared by: Billy Diong

Is Facebook a Crutch for Social Cause Advocates ?

December 3, 2010

16 November 2010 – A candlelight vigil from 6 to 7 p.m. in New York’s Times Square supported by UNICEF, marks the start of the second annual global initiative by civil society actors to hold a World Day of Prayer and Action for Children. The theme for these activities in 2010 will be maternal health and child survival, with a particular focus on breastfeeding. UNICEF is supporting activities in 20 countries around the world. Read Full Story

Many countries around the world recognize November 20 as Universal Children’s Day and many causes supporting the welfare of children try to raise awareness in the month of November. Currently, there is a viral status on Facebook that urges people to post their favorite childhood cartoons as their profile pictures. There are many variations but one that has been popular among my Facebook Friends reads: “DO IT FOR A GREAT CAUSE: Change your FB profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal is to not see a human face on FB till Monday, December 6th. Join the fight against child abuse & copy & paste to your status to invite your friends to do
the same.”

FB Cartoon Profile Pics

I did some research and started digging around but the closest thing I found to validate the support for this cause is the news story about UNICEF and the candle light vigil. The Facebook Pages and Groups are created by regular people who have an interest in the subject but no ties with an actual non-government/profit organizations i.e. Amnesty International.

My question is how much can a viral status and profile picture change campaign on Facebook do to fight against child abuse or child welfare? It might create some awareness, but is it moving enough to spur people to action? I mean, these Facebook pages don’t even have links to official websites or references to where they get their information. If I changed my status and profile picture but wanted to learn more, be more involved in the cause or donate. I would be running into one brick wall after another.

I have recently become involved in the “1M Malaysians Reject 100-storey Mega Tower” group on Facebook and most of the people who are members believe that we are making a difference by voicing our opinions on a social network. Malaysia is not a country that encourages or tolerates the notion of free speech, so many have turned to the anonymity of the internet to protect ourselves.

The question is, are we garnering enough attention from the right people? OR…are we just going to be one of those people that change our statuses and profile pics for a day or two trying to find the easiest way to seem involved but not at all committed? Are people trying to be involved in a cause? OR… Trying to be involved in social media???

Charlie St. Cloud: Western or Eastern Souls?

November 2, 2010

Just finished Charlie St. Cloud two days ago and it was a lot better than I expected it to be. It also prompted me to think about how I view death, the after life and the presence of souls among the living.

I was raised Buddhist then claimed to become a Christian when I was 14 years old. Now that I’m 21 and have felt the effects of losing a loved one…I’m not so sure what I believe in anymore.

Nonetheless, this book challenged me to dig into the deepest corners of my soul to figure out if I viewed death and the after life through the lenses of the East or the West…

Charlie St. Cloud

Charlie St. Cloud Book Cover

Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood is about Charlie and how he copes after his little brother (Sam) dies in a car wreck. After his brother’s death, Charlie lives with guilt because he was driving the car but he also possesses a special talent: he can see and talk to dead people. He becomes the caretaker of the cemetery his younger brother is buried at, in order to keep a promise he made to Sam. Everyday at dusk he plays catch with Sam’s soul and chats with his brother as if Sam had never died. See, the promise Charlie made was to never leave Sam and vice versa.

Then, Tess ( an accomplished sailor who wants to sail solo around the world in search of love) enters Charlie’s life. They fall in love with each other but Charlie soon realizes that she is possibly dead and he has been spending time with her soul. He eventually finds and rescues her in a state of hypothermia, after which she slips in a coma. She finally wakes up towards the end of the book and you assume that they live happily ever after..

The question is: Do I believe in souls wandering around and trying to communicate to us by rustling the leaves on trees or moving fridge magnets around.

My answer is: Yes. I was raised to believe that the dead can communicate with us.

How about dreams? Do souls communicate through our dreams? Tess in Charlie St. Cloud claims that her father gives her advice through dreams…and I believe in that too.

My mom had an experience that truly makes me believe. When she was a student at Ouachita Baptist University, AR. Her god-mother had just passed but no one wanted to tell her. During this B.C (Before computers) time, it took months for letters to go from the U.S.A to Malaysia and back so it was easy to keep that from her. Around the time it happened, my mom dreamt that she was chasing after her god-mother who had short hair, was carrying an umbrella and  holding on to the hand of a young boy. My mom was confused because her god-mother loved her long hair and never wanted to cut it, so she just thought it was a nightmare. It turns out that her god-mother had just cut her hair weeks before she passed and a young boy who lived down the street had passed away around the same time.

Is it creepy to think that souls stick around for awhile to say goodbye before moving on? I mean, if the living need time to grieve the lost of a loved one, is it too far fetched to say that souls of the dead also need time to grieve the lost of life and all their loved ones ??? Halloween and Hollywood both emphasize the concepts of ‘evil spirits’, ‘hauntings’ and ‘lost souls that want to possess you a.k.a Paranormal activity style’. HOWEVER, is that the way most Westerners/Americans view death and the afterlife?

My best friend, Bethany, and I have talked a little about our views on this. We were raised in very different backgrounds but we have found that we share many views on life, and apparently, death. She recently lost a childhood friend and since then ‘interesting’ things have been happening in her room. The most noteworthy is when she was in <MY ROOM> talking to me about her friend and her radio starts playing her Red Hot Chili Peppers CD, coincidentally her friend’s favorite band.

After much thought, I should probably change the title of this post because I no longer believe that I have to understand the difference between Western and Eastern views on souls. Death is such a personal subject that I cannot neatly categorize people’s coping mechanisms into geographical region and religious affiliations.

On the topic of death, the afterlife, and the presence of souls among us…

I have my beliefs….

Bethany has her beliefs…

What are your beliefs ?…

Philosophy of Life by Billy

October 26, 2010
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Billy and I

My cousin Billy has been blogging for almost 4 years now and he writes about his experiences traveling or living in Asia. He has pictures and posts abut South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and other countries in South East Asia. The blog is filled with interesting pictures and opinions he wishes to share with those who want to learn about the culture of those countries or to connect with those who just want to reminisce about Malaysia and all its splendor

To check it out, click on the picture or: