Monday, May 31, 2004

Instead of shouting with raised voice

Today, at a friend house, some children from a few families were there having fun. At one stage, their game was throwing of toys at one another. I asked them who is the eldest. They were quite happy to answer my question, probably 'age' is a concept of direct concern to them as each day/month/year is a much more significant growth for them than adults. However, I couldn't get the eldest attention because he doesn't know me well.

Anyway, I managed to talk to one who is the eldest at home and his younger brother was also in the game of throwing toys. I asked him if he has such game at home and he said no. Then I asked if throwing toys is good and he said no. Then he was asked to tell his younger brother not to throw. By then, some other children might have heard my questions and have similar answers and the group went away to their next episode of fun.

However, the toys were everywhere in the room by then. So I asked again if this were the situation at his home, what should he do. He understood and started to put back the toys into a big box for toys. The younger brother just naturally follow and the two have the room tidy up shortly.

I respect the good up bringing efforts by the parents of these two children. Without that foundation, probably one of the mother has to tidy up the mess. As to why not me doing the tidy up, the previous posting about problems and opportunities has the reason.

Children influence one another when in a group. Keeping children from bad company is a poor strategy, while empowering children to influence other to do good is a better way.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

More research needed on family

There are different levels of developments in different fields. One important factor is the magnitude of influence. Business related fields have this factor. There are many theories and studies into running a business well and also on good practices in investments, management, etc. On the other hand, issues on the family and interpersonal relationship level do not receive as much studies. So, the idea come to my mind, there should be good theories and solutions from the business world that can apply well in the family and personal level. This is similar to the concept of the recent years of applying the Sunzi Art of War in business, since war was already very well studied in Sunzi's time.

For example, during the last few downturn years, "turning difficulties into opportunities" is used by good business people during these times. At the family and personal level, this was not so much applied (illustrated in my previous entry about kids and toys).

Another example, diversifying your investments to lower risk. At the employee level, rarely few thought of that. Most employees have all their eggs in one basket, one single job, and some worse, one single skill. It should be better to diversify their income source, by having multiple skills, jobs, providing other services, keep looking for venues of income and learn and make correct decisions.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Seeing opportunities in "problems"

Few days back a friend shared with me some of his strategies in raising kids. Intentionally, all his children share the same room even though there are enough rooms for each. Obviously, those who sleep later will be disturbing those who sleep earlier. This situation is a 'problem' and 'solutions' such as arranging for each child to have their own room. However, to my friend, this is an opportunity to educate the kids about being considerate.

Yes, I agree very much with him. Many a time, too easily we classify many situations as 'problems' while it would be much better to see them as 'opportunities'. Thus, 'solving' these 'problems' is actually 'avoiding' or 'wasting' these 'opportunities'. A common example, when two kids fight for a toy, an easy 'solution' is to buy two toys for the two kids. Apparently, the problem of 'fighting' is 'solved'. However, this natural opportunity for them to learn and experience the consequences of 'fighting' and/or to build up the self-control ability to refrain from fighting is wasted.

Then, hours later, this question came up in my mind: "If someone invented a device/method such that new born infants will not cry for milk in the middle of the night, is it good?" It might be a solution in giving the parents a better night sleep, but the bonding between parents and child would be weaker. What about pampers vs. cloth, walking helper vs. trial and error, Panadol vs. self-recovery, etc. The point is not going to any of the extremes, but be aware of the bigger picture and the pros and cons of each decisions and approaches.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Respond wisely to changes

Today there is a discussion on preparation for marriage with some friends. Basically, an important requirement for a successful marriage is the mature character of the couple. The maturity of a person is very much dependent on his/her up bringing. Then, I would say that parents should be the main role in preparing their children for marriage. It should be a life long process that start at the very begining of a child's life till his/her marriage, rather than through some kind of short pre-marriage courses provided by some organizations.

Actually, if a child lives with parents day in day out, in the ten over years during the up bringing of the child, quite surely that they must have talked and discussed about mature character and marriage and parents would have given their advices.

Quite often we heard the comment '...never in history, ... develops so fast...' with the focus on the benefits of the speedy developments. Not too much attention has been on the side or negative effects it has brought about that need to be resolved. Relating to the above discussion, the fast changes of family lifestyle in modern days had many children grew up without spending substantial quality time with parents. Thus, it is likely tht many of these children grew up without a good knowledge of what is maturity and how to build a successful marriage.

Therefore, we need to be aware of the side effects of modernization on us and respond to them wisely.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Don't reduce your love to parents after knowing God

I was reminded about a concept that I think was misunderstood by many. (Before I begin, I should say that I am not too familiar with the Bible and I am talking about the concept here, i.e. not about the actual meaning of the verse.)

In the Bible Matthew 10:37 "Jesus said to his apostles: ‘Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; ..." Initially, this gives me the impression that we have to love our parents lesser so as to fulfill the condition that we do not love our parents more than Jesus. I am not surprise if there were many who felt likewise.

Now I understand it as follows: Assuming that we naturally love our parents very much and loving them is correct, without doubt. Thus, the idea of reducing our love for them is not an acceptable concept or option. In this case, the only way to satisfy the request of not loving our parent more than Jesus will be to strive to increase our love for Jesus.

In some way, this is similar to the common behavior of choosing the easy way out. Last time, some how I avoided from being rich and was having low level of satisfactions. This is the easy way out for living 'comfortably' by lowering our standard of 'comfort'. By a similar logic as above, now I set higher standard of comfort and strive for it, by putting more effort into achieving that. In doing so, I foresee that the overall standard of comfort in a society will be raised and everyone benefits. In 'easy way out' case, I'll remain as comfortable through illusion and this will not benefit those around me.

Greedy algorithm

In computer algorithm design, there is this term 'greedy algorithm'. Greedy algorithms are usually among the first few proposed by the pioneers. The main characteristic of greedy algorithm is to achieve the best results in each and every steps. In this way, we will have the best result at the end. The problem is that this is very expensive. Usually, it is only the final state that we are interested, i.e. regardless of the intermediate state, as long as the final state is the best will do. Thus, 'smarter' algorithms will achieve the same best result at the final step in a shorter time. (Those who have studied sorting algorithms will surely see the connection)

In layman term, I think 'short-sighted' (in chinese: 眼光短浅) is similar to the idea behind greedy algorithm. In some of those 'smarter' algorithms, it is not easy to understand the purpose and the direction the each step is leading to. In real life, choosing the obvious best option at the present moment is like the greedy algorithm, and might lead you to the best desired outcome, but that will be costly. Sometimes, when we think a decision is seemingly poor or even stupid, try to stretch the time longer and we might understand the cleverness in such decisions.

Presently in Singapore, the government is headache about the low birth rate problem. This is not a health issue, but a social one. The more complex issue behind is younger generation decision of not getting marriage and/or intention to have very few children or even none. The obvious best option for a young working adult is to stay single base on financial and lifestyle concerns. However, if we look further, and wider, I believe that marriage and parenthood are very benefitial to us as human, although we may be temporarily become poorer financially and lesser personal time. I guess the question is, do we want our contributions to be limited by time or be potentially eternal through bringing up a good lineage?

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Changing is not necessarily improving

Yesterday, had a short conversation with a friend and mentioned the idea that everything has its pros and cons. Many time when we gave up on one thing to avoid the current problems and took up another, we ended up facing another set of problems.

For example, a friend who stopped being a research fellow and took up lecturer appointment. When he was a research fellow, he has all the time to concentrate on doing research work but do not have the authority to direct a research team. When he became a lecturer, he got the authority to direct research, but now most of the time he was occupied with administrative and teaching tasks.

In some situation, giving up is perceived as a bad choice, such as giving up building a marriage, i.e. divorce. Personally, I would like to say that giving up should not be a choice, but this seems too simple for our complicated world. Instead, I would want to highlight the attitude when we decided to give up on something. Before thinking about giving up, one should check if he/she has made sufficient efforts within ability to improve the situation.

When making the decision to give up, one should not feel relieved but feel sorry for the decision and learn from the event so as to prevent it from happening again or be more prepared if the same issues arrises again. After giving up and took up or enter another situation, still be constantly reminded about the event, the lesson learnt and keep a look out for any chance to resolve/overcome the issues that caused the event.

Thus, cherish and appreciate the present, recognize the pros and cons, respond accordingly to achieve the best results, don’t envy the seemingly greener grass on the other side but work on it to have greener grass on your territory.

Friday, May 21, 2004


Skip this post which contains a list of glossary terms. This post will be updated as and when there are new glossary terms to be added.

Broadband: The term Broadband is generally accepted to mean Fast digital access to the Internet. [Source: Black Widow Web Weavers]

Butterfly Effect: The flapping of a single butterfly's wing today produces a tiny change in the state of the atmosphere. Over a period of time, what the atmosphere actually does diverges from what it would have done. So, in a month's time, a tornado that would have devastated the Indonesian coast doesn't happen. Or maybe one that wasn't going to happen, does. (Ian Stewart, Does God Play Dice? The Mathematics of Chaos, pg. 141) [Source: Chaos Theory: A Brief Introduction]

CPU: Central Processing Unit; (computer science) the part of a computer (a microprocessor chip) that does most of the data processing. [Source: WordNet ® 1.6, © 1997 Princeton University]

Fetch-execute cycle: The sequence of actions that a
CPU performs to execute each machine code instruction in a program.
At the beginning of each cycle the CPU presents the value of the program counter on the address bus. The CPU then fetches the instruction from main memory (possibly via a cache and/or a pipeline) via the data bus into the
instruction register. [Source: The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © 1993-2004 Denis Howe]

Greedy algorithm: An algorithm that always takes the best immediate, or local, solution while finding an answer. Greedy algorithms find the overall, or globally, optimal solution for some optimization problems, but may find less-than-optimal solutions for some instances of other problems. [Source: Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures]

Qi4: Usually translated as ‘energy’. Qi moves, transforms, protect, holds and warms everything in our body. [Source: Glossary of Chinese terms by College of Integrated Chinese Medicine]

SunZi's Art of War is written by SunWu and is set in the final years of the Spring and Autumn Period(770-476BC). It is not only the oldest Chinese military work in existence but is the oldest work of military theory in the world, well-known for a long time in the history of the military academy both in China and abroad.
SunWu styled himself ChangQing. Zi is the laudatory title for man in ancient China. Therefore, SunWu was known as SunZi. SunZi is not only an outstanding military genius but came first on the list of military strategists in Chinese history. His standing in military science is similiar to that of Confucius(Sage) in Confucianism. Hence, we may say that SunZi is the Military Sage of China. [Source: LeeHong's Page - SUNZI's Art of War]

Theory: The philosophical explanation of phenomena, either physical or moral. [Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.]

Theorem: An idea that is demonstrably true or is assumed to be so. [Source: The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary. Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.]

Xue3: Blood is a Substance that nourishes; moistens; and houses the Shen. [Source: Glossary of Chinese terms by College of Integrated Chinese Medicine]

Explaining the blog's name - "nature"

Following the natural trend, next I shall talk about the word 'nature' in the title. Nature refers to the original state before any human interference. Mankind is special because we can respond, while all other creatures only react. If there were no existence of man, then all things would be in harmony because they interact and react among each other according to the laws and principles exactly. Mankind, with the extra ability to respond, has not been able to act in full accordance with these laws and principles, because for some reason, we do not have clear idea about these laws and principles. Thus, a way to study and learn these is to go back and observe the nature. Nature refers to both the universe outside ourselves and our conscience deep within our heart/mind that is at similar level as our instinct, which are inbuilt in us.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Explaining the blog's name - "back"

If anyone is wondering why 'back' in the title 'back2nature', actually even if none bothers, I would like to briefly explain. I believe living is to develop and move forward, but in a purposeful way. However, many developments were intended without a clear and good purpose. Thus, the need to go back and reconsider now and then if we are heading at the correct direction or not.


Hi, I'm a guy who like to think and hope to share my thoughts with you.

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