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Celebrity Crush: Shin (苏见信)

Taiwanese singer Shin was the Xin Yue Tuan’s (信乐团) vocalist before his departure back in 2007 to launch his own solo career. The band has since recruited a new frontman, and released a new album with him, but I have not heard it yet, so I have no idea if they’re still worth listening to or not.

But anyway, just like Jam Hsiao, Shin has his roots in being a pub singer, and his style of music leans towards hard rock, which is considerably rare in the poppy Taiwanese market.

He is known for his explosive vocal abilities and large range, plus personally I find him really expressive when singing.

Example of his solid high notes – in fact, a lot of variety shows like to use this song whenever they’re challenging male singers to sing high notes, like making them move up the keys, so this song gets higher and higher, until their voices crack. as seen below.

While he is kind of old (plus married with a kid) for me to have a crush on, I do think he’s pretty good looking. And I think he’s pretty humorous when he’s on variety shows.

But he shines when performing live on stage – he has showmanship, and isn’t afraid to experiment with various styles and genres outside of his familiar territory.

is it time well spent?

When using technology, we often focus optimistically on all the things it does for us. But I want you to show you where it might do the opposite.

Where does technology exploit our minds’ weaknesses?

I learned to think this way when I was a magician. Magicians start by looking for blind spots, edges, vulnerabilities and limits of people’s perception, so they can influence what people do without them even realizing it. Once you know how to push people’s buttons, you can play them like a piano. (source)

I found the above article to be an interesting read, considering how I grew up surrounded by all sorts of technological gadgets and have probably been made to drink the kool-aid when it comes to responding towards every tiny vibration or flicker of light on my devices.

While I attend to my devices whenever I receive any notification, my main reason for doing so isn’t because of some fear of missing out or the need to reciprocate socially, though it’s probably part of the reason subconsciously. It’s just my OCD side who hates seeing the green light flashing on my phone, I don’t really care about why it’s flashing, but I just need to make it stop flashing. Of course, the logical course of action is to turn off the light notification, but then since my phone is permanently on silent, I probably would miss every notification without the flickering lights.

Is there a fear of missing something important? If I don’t check my email, would I not see the amazing sales going on at this place, or a great deal over at some other place? True, that happens, but I’m generally okay with missing these things because they usually occur frequently, or a couple of times a year. I have no fear of missing out on these sort of things.

I’m also perfectly fine with people knowing that I’ve read their messages and not responded to them, hence I have never bothered turning off read receipts, because if there is something I needed to add to the conversation, then I would have replied when I’ve read said conversation thread. I’m too old to be one of those people who play the ‘oh no, I can’t reply within the next 5 minutes or they’d think I have no life/look too eager to talk to them’.

But the main take away point that I get from the article is that: interruptions are good for businesses.

Yup, interruptions as in the way the app is designed to interrupt you at certain times of the day so that you pay attention to it instead of going on with your life without opening the app. You get a tiny notification telling you, hey, look at this cool thing, and next thing you know, there goes an hour of scrolling and clicking and social media-ing.

And the most ironic thing on the site? When you’re done with this article, they have a little pop-up at the corner of your browser asking you to click through to the writer’s next article.

fear and loathing in…

I apologize for the rambling stream of consciousness below, but it was drafted out when I was tossing and turning in bed at about 2 am.

Whenever people ask me about how easily I fall asleep, my standard response is the enviable ‘oh, I fall asleep within 5 minutes of hitting the sack’ and they’d be like, ‘oh, that’s nice’ etc. But the reason why I sleep so quickly is that whenever I drag my corpse into my coffin, I’m at the brink of exhaustion, the kind where you should have gone to bed at least 3 hours earlier when your eyes were already closing on their own accord because they’re burning within your sockets and you’re this close to slumping forward and hitting your head and your table.

But if I were to sleep earlier, I’d get the tossing and turning issue and that’s not fun either, when your thoughts start to run wild and you can’t focus on anything beyond trying to shove all the unhappy things into the Box and then you start second-guessing everything that you ever knew and paranoia starts to take over.

Sidenote: A solution, or the coward’s way out really, is to think about something completely different – which is why I make up characters in my head, which is why I write stories in my mind instead of on paper, so that there is something for my mind to focus on, which will enable me to drift away midway some dashing surreal unrealistic adventure of Person A and their crazy companions. (Might also be why I am never able to imagine myself as the main character in anything. My stories can only revolve around fictitious people.)

Which leads me to thinking about The Weighing of the Heart. It’s a ceremony which occurs when you die and you’re led into the afterlife by Anubis. Osiris, ruler of the underworld and the afterlife, watches as you declare that you are innocent of wrongdoing, and then your heart is weighed against a feather, owned by the Goddess of Truth, Ma’at. If your heart is indeed lighter than the feather, you will be sent to Osiris, to continue your journey through the afterlife. Otherwise, you will get to be devoured by Ammut.

Which, let me say, is a strange thing to be thinking about when you’re trying to fall asleep and not remember everything that occurred when you were a teenager in some sort of super fast compressed flashback sequence of events, and trying to second-guess everything you thought was real – like did the people around you genuinely liked you for the person that you were or were you just deluding yourself, or were you really deserving of whatever you got or were you lying to yourself as you floated across the sea of mediocrity. Were you afraid of getting hurt, of rejection, more back then or right now? Did you even grow as a person or are you pretending that you did? Is it just the same individual, just wrapped slightly differently, in an updated packaging, but still the same terrible product inside? It’s awful in the sort of way that you start thinking you can’t trust anyone to be honest with you and that you can’t be honest with anyone else either because who knows what they really think and who knows if they’re actually making fun of you behind your back.

See, this is why I need the Box to keep all these nuisance thoughts from cluttering up my mind and destroying any semblance of relationships and connections I have with people, because I know how nuts this whole thought process is, and how it’s not healthy to be paranoid and suspicious of people who definitely don’t deserve you side-eyeing them as though they did you wrong.

Does absence make the heart grow fonder or am I already an afterthought, barely a foot-note in your increasing book of tales?

Sixteen92; Blanket of the Dark

Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry “Hold, hold!”

Lady Macbeth – MACBETH

☾ Notes: narcissus absolute, two Jasmines, yellow Champaca blossom, coffee bean, bergamot, oakmoss, benzoin ☽

Okay, the notes said two jasmines, but honestly, it feels like all of the jasmines are in this scent because it is that overwhelming. It’s like walking into a room of jasmine flowers and getting smacked with the floral smell. Around the edges of the scent is a slight smokiness, which I only noticed once the jasmine cacophony has quieted down a little, like say, in half an hour’s time. And okay, maybe I’m weird, but I keep getting the hint of uncooked rice grains whenever there is a jasmine note, so yeah, there is that as well.

But once the floral note is gone, you get the dark bitterness, which is probably the coffee bean or the oakmoss. It’s quite a change from the original atmosphere of the perfume, which was a welcome for me, since I’m not exactly fond of the jasmine overdose.

Caudalie; Beauty Elixir

I picked up a bottle of Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir during the Christmas season last year, as they were nicely packaged and I had a 10% discount to use up. I had read some pretty polarizing reviews of the product, and was kind of curious to test it out.

Obviously, with my holy grail toner, Lush’s Eau Roma Water, I hardly needed another item to add to my routine. But hey, you never know if there’s something better out there if you don’t test it out.

I kind of talked briefly about this Beauty Elixir back then when I first got it, and well, I wasn’t really going to write about it until I realised that hey, I’m moving onto my second bottle, and I actually like it quite a fair bit.

Ingredients: Water, Alcohol*, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Water*, Parfum (Fragrance)*, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil*, Potassium Alum, Glycerin*, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil*, Styrax Tonkinensis Resin Extract*, Commiphora Myrrha Resin Extract*, Melissa Officinalis (Balm Mint) Leaf Oil*, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil*, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Extract*, Tocopherol*, Citral*, Limonene*, Linalool*, Citronellol*, Geraniol*, Farnesol*, Benzyl Benzoate*, Eugenol*

With alcohol as the second ingredient in the list, well, it is not surprising that some people have adverse reaction to this, coupled with the peppermint oil because even with my non-sensitive skin, it can be quite stinging and that’s not exactly a good thing to have in a face product.

However, what I really like with this Beauty Elixir is its oil control aspect. I have combination skin, which means oily T-zone and normal cheeks, and using this during my night routine means that I don’t wake up with an oily forehead and nose.

Plus it’s also pretty good as a pick me up, since it’s cold and refreshing, as long as you don’t spray it near your eyes. It can also be used as a makeup setting spray, since the mist that you get is so fine. And c’mon, Liv Tyler apparently loves it, and that’s a pretty good endorsement too, right.

Things I Love Thursday

it’s mid-May (kind of), and I’m still procrastinating on everything that should be done.

– Freedom
The most amazing feeling you guys, is having the entire day to do whatever you want. I can decide to wake up early and head to the music school to practise my drums or sit in a cafe and read random books, or even arrange make up classes for the piano kids. Or hey, I can also choose to wake up at like freaking noon and then skip lunch and just sit in front of the computer or Netflix.

– Independence
Okay, so the parental authority is away on vacation for a week, and let’s face it, I bet my brothers are all like, she’s not going to survive on her own. Which is why my second brother kept asking me if I wanted to go over for dinner, which I did today.

However, let me put it on the record, I can cook. I mean, I don’t do it often and my repertoire is seriously lacking, but whatever I make is totally edible, if not kind of basic. So yeah, let’s just say that I haven’t touched rice for a week – instead it’s all about udon, soba and pasta. And whatever vegetables that is easy to cook and require very little washing and cutting.

And yeeees, maybe I drink a little more now that there’s no supervision nagging at me but at least I’m drinking at home, which is cheaper and more responsible than going out and drinking myself blind.

Also laundry isn’t fun but luckily the new washing machine has a handwash option, which means I can dump everything in! :D Lazy people rejoice~

– Catching Up
Part of the freedom means that I can go out with friends and be spontaneous with plans at the drop of a hat. So far, I’ve managed to check out a few new hipster cafes places, finally got around to watching Captain America: Civil War, sing like a dying cat at karaoke places, and eat a ton of food and drank a lot of coffee along with it. It’s always good to catch up with people, you get to try new things or do group activities, which makes a nice change since I’m usually hanging out by myself.

– Rupaul’s Drag Race
Oh mama, I just started watching this the other day and I guess I’m really quite impressed by these contestants. Sure, the make up looks were too flamboyant for my liking – like, blend guys, blend. Unless the whole point is to look like you really did a shit ton of contouring. I mean, isn’t the point to contour and make it look like that amazing cheekbones and jawline is due to your god-given genes? Idk, and also some of the fake eyelashes were kind of too heavy, especially with that one episode where the contestants had to do a photoshoot in front of a huge fan and some of the eyelashes were just flapping away in the generated wind and it made them look kind of retarded instead of diva-licious.

But yes, count me in for the rest of the seasons available on Netflix – and let me wallow in my lack of ability to walk in heels and make clothes, because damn, the outfits that they manage to pull off in just like a day, wtf.

Didn’t always like the judges, especially when they gave contradictory criticism, like guys, what did you want. Plus some of the contestants got on my nerves, because they were so unlikeable. Can you guys just decide if you want to be catty about this person or pretend to like them the next episode? Idk.

– haruka nakamura piano ensemble
Went to watch Haruka Nakamura Piano Ensemble along with Aspidistrafly. To be honest, I went in blind and totally alone, so I didn’t really know what to expect. But I enjoyed myself tremendously, because it’s so different from the power metal that I’ve been listening to lately.

Both bands were atmospheric, and I’m more partial towards Haruka Nakamura Piano Ensemble mainly because of all the improvising that they did. Aspidistrafly was interesting, but I didn’t exactly like the airy vocals that they employed because it just felt like bad technique even though the airiness was the entire point of their singing style.

– mouse on the keys
Going to see mouse on the keys again tomorrow! :D It’s been a couple of years since the last time the band played here, and I can’t wait to hear them play live again because the atmosphere is so ethereal and yet so grounded.

Plus we will also be hitting up the Matsuri event at Esplanade after the show~

Lush; Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner

I have to admit, I have a lot of body lotions, body butters and whatever else they want to call it, in my collection, ranging from indie brands to the mid-range sort of stuff. To be honest, most of the lotions are just languishing away in my cupboard because I’m a lazy person and who really has the time to go around slathering creams every single day, amirite. Okay, granted, I don’t have super dry skin that needs daily lotion-ing and I can get away with not moisturizing until my elbows feel dry.

So what is a lazy bitch to do? Well, in comes Lush’s Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner.


LUSH product inventor Rowena made this decadent, rose-scented shower ‘lotion’. She noticed how much she liked the sultry soft feeling hair conditioner gives her hair, so she thought how nice it would be if she could have the same feeling for the body too. With scoops of cocoa butter, cupuacu butter, almond oil and Argan oils, and the fragrant scent of fresh rose petals, this is the most luxurious body softener that ever was (if we don’t say so ourselves!). After washing up, slather yourself all over with this new invention. Rinse, pat dry and revel in supremely soft, rose-scented skin.

With this, I don’t have to suffer through the stickiness you get from putting body lotion on – you know how it feels when you put on hand cream and then had to wash your hands later on? That weird slippery feeling? Well, I hate it, a lot. Which is why I don’t really use hand cream normally, even though I really ought to, with all the hand washing I do daily. So yeah, it feels like this conditioner was made for people like me.

The first time I used Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner, I totally over-applied because I didn’t know it would work so well, I guess. Just a lot of body conditioner rubbed all away, and I left the shower feeling oily and totally slippery. I was ready to write it off but hey, it’s a giant pot and it wasn’t cheap, you know. So I tried it again the next day, going with the ‘less is more’ theory, and yup, I now know why it has good ratings on Makeup Alley.

The body conditioner smells fantastic, like roses, and it really does leave your skin super soft and smooth, especially if you use it after a body scrub. Then you’ll come out of the shower feeling like an entirely new person.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Glycerine, Almond Oil (Prunus dulcis), Cypress Leaf Infusion (Cupressus sempervirens), Brazil Nut Oil (Bertholletia Excelsa), Fair Trade Organic Vanilla Pod Infusion (Vanilla Planifolia), Fair Trade Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii), Stearic Acid, Argan Oil (Argania spinosa), Cupuacu Butter (Theobroma Grandiflorum), Fragrance, Triethanolamine, Fair Trade Organic Cocoa Butter (Theobroma Cacao), Goji Berry Juice (Lycium barbarum), Rose Absolute (Rosa damascena), Geranium Oil (Pelargonium graveolens), Lemon Oil (Citrus limonum), *Limonene, Cetearyl Alcohol, Citronellol, Coumarin, Geraniol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben

coming back

Given the empty stretches of time that I find myself needing to fill up, I decided to re-read Patrick Rothfuss’ debut novel, The Name of the Wind.

I read the book a while ago, when it first came out back in 2007. I still remember the joy of reading the book beneath my desk back in boring science classes and staying up till late to plow through the book. It was a riveting read, I found myself invested in Kvothe’s triumphs and failures as though it were my own. I’d link to original blog post where I shared some thoughts after reading the book, but it was too cringey for me to even think of letting it see the light of another day.

One solution was to obviously remove the offending post from the internet, though really, I doubt anything can be erased from the tenacious memories of the internet, considering that the information would have probably been backed up and saved onto the server and easily retrieved, if anyone was so inclined. Of course, no one in their right minds would be so inclined.

But I digress.

There are some books that I re-read, despite the many tomes waiting for me on my shelves, completely untouched, their spines left uncracked.

I find that with every re-read, there will always be something new for me to either discover or learn.

For instance, I love re-reading David Eddings’ books. Firstly, they are super easy to re-read because the plots aren’t very convoluted. And also because I read them when I was a kid, there were stuff that flew right over my head and there were boring bits that I skipped.

Yup, even as precocious as I was back then, pedophilia and incest weren’t exactly concepts I was familiar with as a child. And I totally skipped the whole grown-up parts where they discussed politics and the rules for choosing a Pope sort of character in a medieval style Church thing.

Neil Gaiman’s American Gods goes with me whenever I go on a vacation. Technically it’s not a vacation sort of book, since you know, it’s sort of depressing at times. But I love the little vignettes that is interspersed in between the actual story line, where we read about how the immigrants reached the new world (America, basically) and their struggles to survive in an entirely new land, with their old world faiths. It’s probably all romanticized and fictional, but it was written so brilliantly (in my opinion) and I suppose I re-read American Gods whenever I travel because it always feel as though I am part of something larger, and just as how the old gods followed their believers into the new world, my own gods are watching over me as well.

As for The Name of the Wind, re-reading it was a new sort of experience – I still felt the same kind of empathy for Kvothe, but a part of me, the grown-up mature part wanted to shake Kvothe for being such an annoying brat at times, like seriously, don’t be such a know-it-all, no one likes the kid who thinks he knows everything, and acts as though he has all the answers. Plus, yeah, I know he’s supposed to be special and all because he’s the main character, but he kind of had too many ‘Larry Stu’ traits, which was less than realistic. (I know, I know, this is a fantasy novel, what is up with realism, am I right.)

I’m almost done with my re-read and who knows when will be the next time I will pick this book up again. But hey, there are still a ton of books left to read, and then re-read again.

riding into battle | a mixtape of epic proportions to get things done

let’s go: blood pumping, hearts racing, into the moment of a quickest rush for our lives are brief sparks

01 Stratovarius – Requiem

02 Powerwolf – We are the Wild
(we are the wild until the morning we survive / can’t stop the wild for we are born to win the fight)

03 Gloryhammer – Universe on Fire
(bring me to the holy raging power / where I find my destiny)

04 Kamelot – Wings of Despair
(conquer the silence you fear / tomorrow will not fade to black)

05 Dragonforce – Black Fire
(rise through the night sky with daylight’s desire / to be free there must be black fire)

06 Rhapsody – Emerald Sword
(for the glory the power to win the black lord / I will search for the emerald sword)

07 Hammerfall – Hector’s Hymn
(we’re haunted by fire, our spirit is now set to burn / on and on and on, the fire and the flame will burn forever)

08 Sonata Arctica – The Wolves Die Young
(this is the day when the wolves die young / they’ll never see a new midnight sun)

Despite the utter cheesiness of the lyrics, I really do love the power metal genre. There’s a lot of overused words and cliched imagery – just look at the few lyrics picked up, there’s always the theme of victory and war, in a way glorifying battles and the warrior’s way. Overused imagery includes fire (duh, just take a look at Dragonforce’s discography, I mean, every lyrics or so includes fire or something related.) and fantastical elements including dragons and swords.

However, I find the power metal genre to be extremely uplifting. Unlike the death metal counterpart, it is all about building up oneself and finding the courage within to take action. In a way, it’s a sort of positive mindset, though kind of rooted in the medieval setting of swords and sorcery.