Disgusted with Bank Charges

I am so very disgusted that it costs AUD $22 to effect an international bank transfer using internet banking! Hey, I’m doing all the work here and it costs $22 for a transfer? What if I’m making a tiny purchase? Right right, I should be using Paypal or pay using a debit/credit card. OMG. I still can’t believe it. $22 for an international bank transfer using internet banking!

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Manly Women and Girly Men

I was watching the TV series “The Restaurant” where celebrities are invited to head up a kitchen and cook for diners and food critics. The identity of the celebrity for each episode is not revealed to everyone until the very end of the show. During the course of the dinner, you can hear different people in the restaurant guessing, for a start, the gender of the celebrity and some go on to hazard a guess at the real identity of him/her.

What’s especially interesting to me is that the diners seem to make assumption about the gender of the celebrity chef based on the menu. Apparently, for this episode, most of the diners think that the chef is a man because of these dishes:

  • starters: poached egg on asparagus served with hollandaise sauce & pâté served with sour dough bread and chutney
  • mains: venison & lobster linguine
  • desserts: chocolate brandy & custard tart

I don’t get how the majority of the Irish diners associate the above menu with a man. Or in the first place, the association of certain food to a person’s gender. Isn’t that some stereotypical thinking at work?

Which also made me think of masculinity and femininity which are represented by Mars and Venus respectively. And also to some extent, the Sun and Moon respectively. The idea that both concepts are social constructs has been presented to me recently. I have never really thought about that before. But the more I think about it, the more I realise the validity to the notion.

For example, “a man doesn’t wear a skirt”. Except the Scots with their kilts. Except the Asian men with their sarongs. I wonder how did the unspoken rule came about? Who makes the rules as to whether it’s acceptable for a men to wear a skirt? The answer: society. In other words, masculinity i.e. the notion of what a man is is primarily determined by society. This shouldn’t be a surprise to us. But for those who have problems with not fitting into society’s definition of what a man or woman should be, why not be comfortable with your own version of masculinity, femininity or for some of you, gender fluidity?

Oh yes, the celebrity for tonight’s episode is state pathologist of Ireland, Marie Cassidy, a woman.

Bashing Myself

I bashed myself again – internally, bashed my soul. Why can’t I be a “normal” person who likes accounting and hold down an accounting job for years and make a decent living off it until I retire? Why do I have all these worthless hobbies or interests that make a pittance? Why do I have these silly thoughts that I am wasting my life away in an accounting job? There are lots of people who would love to be able to make a stable living. Why am I so ungrateful and uncontent? 

Remembering the Words of My Grandma

Singaporeans males have to enlist and serve the army. It used to be 2.5 years during my time. I believe it’s 2 years now. Assuming you have passed a physical fitness test (comprising of pull-ups, sit-ups, standing board jump, shutter run, 2.4km run and something else which I have forgotten) before being enlisted in the army, you start off with basic military training (BMT) which lasts 2.5 to 3 months. After that you are sent to an army unit, usually for further training.

Within the army, there’s an unit called the music and drama or something like that. This unit include the army’s military bands. It does make sense when you think about it. Bands have graced presidential visits, parades, etc. Anyhow, on one of the Saturdays during my BMT, I was informed that I could go for an audition in “a camp in Orchard” to see whether I’m good enough to join the army’s military band. I was ecstastic that I’m given the wonderful opportunity to be part of the band for the remaining period of my national service.

I reached home from the army camp, told my grandma about the great news, took a shower and left home to catch a cab to get to the “camp in Orchard”. I told the cab driver to head to the camp in Orchard. He was hesitant and needed the specific place. I couldn’t tell him the exact place. He said he wouldn’t know where to go then. I left the cab feeling very upset. There goes my chance of being part of the band! I will be dispatched to an army unit where physical training is demanding and be depressed for the rest of my life!

I reached home and started literally banging away on my piano as a way to cope with my emotions. My grandma asked me what had happened. She said to try again, with another cab driver. She might also have mentioned that there’s an army camp in “Tanglin” which might be the one that I’m looking for. Assured with her words, I caught another cab. This time, the driver was cheery and said that the camp that I have in mind is “Tanglin camp”. He drove me there. I reached the correct venue, went for the audition, impressed the army band director enough with my sight reading skills and the rest is history.

I often think back to the gentle and reassuring words of my grandma. “Try again.”

 

Power

What is power? What is your power? When I think of power, I think of:

  • the power that someone exerts over another person, especially at work
  • destructive powers
  • “strong” and “hard” powers

But, what about “softer” and gentler powers. For example, the power to heal, the power to inspire. Wait a moment. Let’s explore the definition of power.

According to Merriam Webster, power is defined as (the short and quick version):

  • : the ability or right to control people or things
  • : political control of a country or area
  • : a person or organization that has a lot of control and influence over other people or organizations

See! I am right. It is the ability to control people or things. To direct things towards your outcome. Incidentally, I chanced across the following definition of power in Oxford dictionaries: “The ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way.”

Now, now, now. That’s a much broader definition of power, isn’t it? “The ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way.” Based on this, wouldn’t people that are typically seen to be “powerless” as powerful?