Monthly Archives: March 2014

Organizing… again

This post was first published on my Tumblr on Mar 16, 2013, and is now updated with my experiences since then.

Once again, I find myself organizing activities. At least this time I have some form of support.

I’m talking about Wunning Man, the games my friend and I planned in the same vein as the popular Korean variety show Running Man. After Wunning Man 1, we both learnt a lot, and this Saturday is the second one we’ve planned: Wunning Man 2.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret planning this; it’s just so hard sometimes. We expected 10-12 players, but we were stuck with six. Whenever I plan, I usually have backup plans in case something goes wrong. I’ve learnt to have plan Cs and Ds as well, because of Murphy’s Law.

Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Doesn’t matter how many plans I have, it doesn’t soften the blow, or feeling of failure when plan A fails. I like to be as perfect as possible, even though my motto states that there is no such thing. I put in so much effort into plan A and when it goes wrong, it just feels like my efforts were wasted.

Then again, my plan Bs, Cs and Ds are usually salvage plans. Salvage plans don’t feel good.

It’s not just the (seeming) loss of efforts that discourage me. I crave appreciation and most of the time I don’t feel appreciated for what I’ve done. Take for example the class graduation video I did. If it wasn’t for Dawei, well, I don’t think I’d have felt validated. He was so dramatic in his thanks and I felt so flattered. It’s what makes him such a good friend. (Sounds like I’m friendzoning him LOL). Just his appreciation made me feel that it was worth doing the video.

I think appreciation is important and I do my best to give credit where credit is due. I think a little exaggeration or drama is good. Flattery is always good with appreciation. It just makes it more fun and brightens up the receiver’s day.

The only downside of planning Wunning Man 2 is that I don’t get to participate in the games. Because I know all the secrets, I can’t allow myself to play, else it would be unfair to the other players. Not to mention it’d be unfun for me. I love to find stuff, crack codes and decipher riddles, so I create the games that way. However, one of the lessons I learnt was that I made the game too difficult. What I consider fun is very different from what other people consider fun. I guess I still have to learn that lesson, since life keeps throwing it in my face.

I wish someone would plan for me.

-Jace

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Unusual First Date Ideas for LOLA

This post was first published on LOLA’s blog on Mar 17, 2014. I’m putting it here as a backup copy. Click here to see the original post.

So you’ve decided to download LOLA and you’re happily filling in the registration page, uploading your photo, stating your preferences and you have to propose a unique first date idea. Yep, that’s exactly what LOLA requires you to do. No idea – no date!

You might already have an idea in your head and so you eagerly type it in, raring to go snag your first date. Or you could have a stroke of inspiration and come up with a totally genius and unique idea that’s still simple enough to snag matches. Or, more likely, you struggle to think of an idea for a long time, eventually putting a “safe” date or giving up entirely.

Well, if you’re in that last category, you’re in luck! Here are several suggestions that you could use or build upon to get you started on getting matches and first dates. We don’t want you to struggle and perhaps miss an opportunity, so we’re here to get you into the game.

*Disclaimer*
This post is aimed to inspire people who are looking for a cool, unique and perhaps weird date idea. If you’re happy with a standard date (i.e. dinner and movie), then that’s fine too. It’s not my intention to offend or put down “safe” date ideas in any way; I’m just suggesting some starting ideas for those who get analysis paralysis, or alternatives for those who want to spice up their idea. As a user of the LOLA app, I’ve also noticed that many people lack inspiration or originality. I personally prefer an adventurous date, but that’s just me.

Alright let’s start with a classic date: the dinner and movie. This idea might not be the best for a first date, because a) unless you two hit it off immediately, dinner might be boring and b) you can’t talk during the movie. So one way around this would be to watch the movie first and then have dinner. This way you both will have something in common to talk about while eating.

Most of the time, people just want to talk first. Some of us want to chat over coffee, over dinner, or at the beach. This is usually the “safest” route to take and it does make sense. You’ve got to get to know a person first and the best way to do that is to talk to him or her. But this sometimes can lead to awkward silences when both parties run out of things to talk about. So why not make it a little more fun?

Hanging out at Changi Airport to watch planes and people is a pretty good idea. It’s a public place, but it’s so vast that you could hold a private conversation in comfort. It’s got a pretty tranquil ambiance most of the time as well. Watching planes fly allows a comfortable instead of awkward silence. People Watching is also a fun activity, where you look at random strangers and make up backstories for them. (Protip: make up a cool backstory for each other as well!)

Perhaps, instead of talking, you both could just swap iPods for a while and listen to the songs that the other person has. This would not only allow you to get a feel of what that person is like (i.e. Fun? Thoughtful? Wild?), but also prevents awkward silence, so it’s a good backup plan when you run out of things to say, or just don’t want to overwhelm your date. Who knows? You two might just like an awesome song or like the same singers (oh hey Pentatonix!) and then BAM you now have something to talk about.

You’re welcome.

Or how about doing origami together while you talk? Learn how to fold a paper crane and teach it to your date! There’s an old Japanese legend that says that if you fold a thousand paper cranes, you’ll be granted one wish. This could actually be the basis for several dates. Why not fold cranes and make the wish together? I think in the time it takes to fold a thousand cranes, you’d get to know the other person pretty well. And even if you two don’t click on the first date, save the cranes you made yourself. Perhaps when you fold your thousandth crane for yourself, you can wish for your perfect girl or guy to show up. *cheeky grin*

Want something more adventurous? How about learning or doing something new together? (Fun fact: this is actually my own date idea :P) You could take a dance class together, go explore somewhere you both haven’t been to, learn a new recipe or a new song you both like, (bonus points if the song is a duet or mashup), or… oh I don’t know, take a Couple Yoga class together, like the one LOLA organizes monthly!

Feeling more active? Perhaps a treasure hunt together might be your thing. Why not look for the best place to have prata or pancakes? You could show each other your favourite snack places, or perhaps play an Amazing Race-style game with other couples, so that it becomes a group-but-still-single date, if you know what I mean.

Maybe something active but not so adrenaline-pumping would be to volunteer for or help out at community services and events. SPCA, anyone? Old folk’s home? Orphanages? Activities like these are a great way to show your tender side and at the same time give back to the community.

Or be guest bloggers for LOLA? 🙂

-Jace

Dualed

This post was first published on my Tumblr on May 9, 2013, and is now updated with my experiences since then.

I just finished reading this book, Dualed, and I thought it was a really good story. It’s written in present tense, so it actually feels like you’re there with the protagonist, West Grayer.

*WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD*

The story is set in the future, where the world has dissolved into chaos and only a small section of America has been set up for safety. The people there are bred to be killers and soldiers, in case the walls around the city are breached and they need to defend it.

How this works is through a very twisted rite of passage. Everybody has a genetic twin, called an Alt or Alternate. Each twin is born to a different set of parents and lives in a separate part of the city. They are totally identical except for their upbringing and are known as “incompletes”. Anytime between the ages of 10 and 20, they can be “activated”. When they are, their eyes will be imprinted with their assignment number and the Alts have just 31 days for one of them to eliminate the other. If they don’t, the assignment number in their eyes will self detonate, causing both Alts to die. If one Alt kills the other Alt, the survivor becomes “complete”.

The reason for this is The Board (the governing body of the city) says only the stronger Alternate can survive. They need people capable of killing and doing whatever it takes to survive.

The story follows West as she goes through the tragedies of losing her whole family one by one, each dying to their Alternates or as innocent bystanders during someone else’s assignment (known as Peripheral Kills or PKs). She’s been training for her assignment her whole life, but when it finally comes, she feels she’s not ready and goes on the run. During that time, she becomes a Striker, an assassin for incompletes to hire to kill their Alternate. This is frowned upon, as it is somewhat cheating, but The Board is too busy to do anything about it. (Remind you of anything?)

She reasons that she needs the training only being a Striker can provide. The practice of killing and the ability to be numb to any and all feeling. She keeps running away, pushing away Chord, the last remaining person alive who loves her, believing that it will keep him out of danger of becoming a Peripheral Kill. When West’s Alt threatens Chord’s life, West finally confronts her and kills her Alt, at last freeing herself from the burden that kept her running.

Throughout the story, signs from the Board are shown all over the place, signifying the inevitability of it all. The phrase “Be the one. Be worthy.” is rampant as well, not unlike the Hunger Games’ “May the odds be ever in your favour”.

My takeaway from this story is that your greatest enemy is yourself. When you finally face who you are, are you strong enough to do the right thing? Your whole life boils down to just one moment. One moment that will either crush you, or free you forever.

Are you the one? Are you worthy?

-Jace

AHA! moments

Teaching someone is not easy. Sometimes it gets frustrating, especially when you’ve been repeating yourself over and over and they still don’t get it.

Between being a teacher and being a student, I’ve realized that the best teachers inspire AHA! moments. When the student really truly understands what you teach, and is then able to put two and two together to come to a new conclusion. It doesn’t even matter if the conclusion is right or wrong, what matters is the student took what was taught and applied them together to make something new.

From a student’s point of view, reaching those AHA! moments is getting sudden clarity and understanding. Like when a child figures out how two Lego blocks fit with each other and he can make a tower of blocks, or when he discovers that the Lego blocks can be joined partially and proceeds to make a more stable tower out of intersecting blocks.

That should be the goal of teacher: guiding students to these AHA! moments. Not shoveling information down their throats. With too much information, the student gets turned off. I’ve experienced both sides of it and it is so not fun for either party.

Of course, when you teach something to someone for the first time, you have to give a lot of facts at first, if not the student doesn’t even know where, when or how to ask questions about that subject. This is the learning curve.

Take for example Magic: the Gathering (MTG). When I teach MTG to new players, I use single coloured decks and only explain what they need to know to play the game. Then we play a simple game to go through the motions, let them ask questions and I answer them. Now comes the fun part: I start teaching them abilities on creatures, starting with Flying. Flying is a very simple and logical concept the grasp. The creature flies over creatures that don’t have flying and bonks your opponent on his head. It’s excellent to teach new players that creatures can have abilities. It also opens the door to explaining Flavour.

Next is First Strike. A creature with First Strike will deal damage first, before other creatures without First Strike. That’s logical too, although just a little bit more complicated. Lastly, Deathtouch. No matter how much damage a creature with Deathtouch deals to another creature, the damaged creature dies instantly.

Now experienced MTG players will already see the combination between First Strike and Deathtouch. However, I wouldn’t explain this combo to the new player. Rather, I’ll let him or her play with a deck that has both and let them discover the potent combo on their own.

The self discovery is an amazing feeling and is the reward for the work you put in to learn. Once they see one combo, their brain automatically gets wired to start seeing more and they can actively look for more interactions like these.

So the trick to teaching something is to teach parts of it in a vacuum and let the student discover how they connect. Give them enough knowledge to work with; they will eventually encounter a problem that requires the combination of two things taught and then they will find the connection.

I think the measure of whether you can teach something successfully or not is if you can see these AHA! moments for the student and guide them towards it.

-Jace

Sadistic vs Masochistic

So a friend of mine asked if I was sadistic or masochistic.

Sadism n
1. The deriving of sexual gratification or the tendency to derive sexual gratification from inflicting pain or emotional abuse on others.
2. The deriving of pleasure, or the tendency to derive pleasure, from cruelty.
3. Extreme cruelty.

Masochistic adj
1. Psychiatry. having a condition in which sexual gratification depends on suffering, physical pain, and humiliation.
2. Gratified by pain, degradation, deprivation, etc., inflicted on oneself either by one’s own actions or the actions of others.
3. Tending to be self-destructive.
4. Tending to find pleasure in self-denial, submissiveness, degradation, etc.

I took the definitions less as sexual, but more like, do I prefer to torture or be tortured?

At first I answered sadistic. In Magic: the Gathering (MTG), I’m of the colours Blue and Black (Dimirian), which means I like to steal people’s secrets and use it against them. In essence, torture and blackmail.

But the more I thought about it, the weirder I felt. I actually prefer to be tortured, in the sense that, suffering in order to achieve what I want. For example, my daily workouts are tiring and painful, but I want abs more than I don’t want pain.

I can be sadistic when I want to. I’m a pretty good debater, given enough time to gather my thoughts and rebut. I’m also a troll, and a very annoying one at that, so I guess that’s a form of torturing others. Sometimes I burn people with my remarks too.

So what are you?

-Jace

Tag Races

One of the things I do I organize game events for my friends in the style of Running Man. One of the main games is the tag race, a game where we work in teams or as individuals to rid the opposing members of their paper wrist tags. I’ve come up with several variations of the game.

First, there’s the free-for-all. That’s pretty fun on its own, but alliances will definitely form and the game degenerates into a standoff after a while. There are several variations of this version, depending on the story or theme we use for the actual event. As a game on its own, I think it serves as a good warm up and practice session for everyone, as well as a training session for new players, but it does get boring if played too many times.

The next obvious format would be to split into two opposing teams. Several variations of this format that I’ve seen done in Running Man were Hunters and Prey, Spies, and Attack and Defense. Hunters and Prey and Spies are actually pretty similar, except in Spies, you don’t know who the Hunters are. Usually there’s some sort of limit or restriction on the Hunt team, such as eliminating all the prey before they complete their mission (usually a puzzle or treasure hunt), or a time limit. In Spies, there are a certain number of spies in the game, and their job is to secretly eliminate the rest of the members. In Attack and Defense, the two teams swap roles every 15 minutes. The Attackers are immune to elimination for the time period and the Defending team has to hide. Very much like an extreme version of Hide and Seek.

One of the variations that I came up with was Assassins. I found this game in a book called Squirt and I’ve wanted to play it ever since. In the book, there were over 300 players. Each player was an assassin and a target, also known as a mark. As the assassin, you had a mark that you were supposed to take out by shooting him or her with your water gun. Once you eliminate your mark, you acquire your mark’s mark as your new mark. Then you hunt down this new mark, take him or her out, and continue until you find your own name. There were other rules in the book, but those had to be in place since the whole game was supposed to take place over two weeks. I just took the basic rules and ran with it.

The last obvious major variation was to have more than two teams. I created two games, King and Immortal Princess, and here’s how they work.

King is played with seven, ten or 13 people, consisting of one king while the rest are split into teams of three. The king has X number of lives, where X is the number of teams there are, and can only be eliminated once by each team. The other players have one life each, but work in teams. Essentially, its 3 vs 3 vs 3 …. vs 1. Also, there is a “Princess” on each team. If the Princess is eliminated, the whole team is out. Note that there is a possibility that the King will be immortal. I.e. One team has been completely wiped out before they could eliminate one of the King’s tags, thus rendering the King immortal.

Immortal Princesses is like King, except that there is no King and the Princesses are immortal until all her Bodyguards are taken out.

I think Assassins was the most fun game we played, since there was politics involved. Also, it was consistent and didn’t degenerate. It was also fun to watch too, if you were eliminated. However, it does require more thought and planning than the other, more straightforward variations.

I’m definitely going to create more variations to play.

-Jace

Her

So I watched Her last week. Mum was right; it was the very depressing and it made me cry.

Warning: Spoiler Alert!

Her is set in the near future with advanced technology. Among those technologies is an operating system (OS) which is actually sentient. It can talk to people, learn things, gain experiences and even have feelings. Of course, since when was computers having feelings ever a good idea?

But the show is a romance show, not sci-fi or horror, although the ending was still quite tragic.

I don’t think I could ever fall in love with a computer, even if it had Scarlett Johanssan’s super hawt voice. I mean, sure, I wouldn’t mind a girlfriend who was so much smarter than me in every way, but my primary love language is Physical Touch, so without touch, I wouldn’t feel…. loved.

The show was really awesome, but I think it would only be appreciated by sentimental people and hopeless hopeful romantics like me. Sad shows like this one always make me feel grateful that my life isn’t as bad as the protagonist’s.

Her definitely needs to be watched again and I shall do so when I finally get a girlfriend.

-Jace