How's Life?

I wonder about this many a time, and more so recently. Am I the one of the few around who lives rather comfortably and happy with what I am doing currently? Not only that, but also rather confident of the future. (That may be delusion or overconfidence and I'll try to substantiate that in due time.) I suppose you can count it as luck, but then again I've put in much effort to shape my own life.

Beginning with the most recent, I commented on a post by a fellow schoolmate of mine who said that he has more "WTF AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE" recently while being in the army. While all the talks about responsibility to the country and fighting for it to defend Singapore and all the loyalty stuff may raise patriotism in everyone (including me), let's face it � No one likes the army while going through it. Nay, even I who was quite confident that entering with an open mind and trying to make the best out of it have come to a conclusion that it's still not enough to actually enjoy it, and given a choice, I'd rather slack off and get out (which I tried to, and will try harder just before ORD). Yet, I rarely ask myself the question "what am I doing with my life?" merely out of exasparation (let alone the WTF variant), but more of a check of my "azimuth" or "bearing", to make an analogy. Is it because I'm an optimist? Or is it that I'm just resigned to the fact that it can't be escaped and everyone else (PR 2nd gen and Singaporean males) is fated to go the same route for this part of their life?

I'd like to think of myself as an oportunistic realist, trying to make the best of whatever that comes around. It's NS, and we're bound by law. "No choice suck thumb" � as what they always say. It's true. Nevertheless, I was still lucky enough to "lessen the suffering" by weaseling my way into the current position I'm in which is pretty relaxed, but mind you, there's still work and outfield and stuff which makes you feel like everyone else is better off than you for a moment. I know there are people in similarly comfortable positions and since we have more time to think about our lives I suppose that question keeps surfacing. But I here's where I differ. I know I can't do anything very productive, true, but I could prepare for the future by scouting for resources and making arrangements, and taking advantage of what I have plenty of currently: Time.

There's alot of time. Not alot in terms of hours itself, since NS gives us not much time for ourselves, but rather the period over which we can do something, which is 2 years. This 2 years allows us, for instance, 2 extra opportunities to apply to universities, enough time to learn how to drive, and most probably more than I can think of right now. The reason is this: We need time to recover. And recovery time is basically just doing anything else other than what you've been doing. Learning is one such activity that requires recovery as everyone clearly knows mugging never gives good long term memory. And all this time to recover is fulfilled by our NS stuff. So I am thankful I've got 2 more chances to try to get into MIT.

I must confess that because of my standpoint towards NS, my heart/mind is never at work, unless for that moment I'm interested in what I'm doing (e.g. range. I like firing guns remember?), or a task so demanding that it requires full attention (e.g. a battle course). I'll most of the time be wandering off thinking about stuff (anything really), which gives me in a sense alot of time to myself, and is when I get ideas on like how to improve this website's PHP script, how to better my uni apps, what anime to watch next, how to gather everyone for the ORD trip to Japan, and etc.

Not only do I steal time back from NS this way, but I also bring as many electronic gadgets that are useful to me as I can. This means: A 3G smartphone (with the camera removed), an iPod Touch, and a portable battery charger that runs on 4xAA batteries. This combination gives me the max power I have to be as productive as I can when snatching every single opportunity I can while at work. This is the breakdown:

� The smartphone has bluetooth which allows me to synchronise data with my other non-NS phone. This allows my text messages, contacts, and notes to be with me at all times. This is important especially when making arrangements with my teachers for uni apps.

� The smartphone is loaded with an office suite that allows typing of documents in pure .txt format, and in .doc. (I did my TOK essay once on a plane that way.) All of these can be transferred to PC via a link cable at home.

� The phone also has 3G, and I have a complimentary data plan. This means internet access wherever there is cellular coverage. This includes outfield when we are not too near the coast. This means 80% of the time outfield I get access to the internet.

� My phone has a software called Joikuspot. It turns the phone into a 3G wireless router. This allows me to maximise the capabilities of the iPod Touch.

� The iPod Touch can surf the internet the way I mentioned above.

� The iTouch can check my email for any updates or anything important from the universities and the scholarship board.

� The iTouch contains a good "notes" software that I've used for creating to-do lists and type out some of my essays for uni apps when I get inspiration and during free time. These can be emailed to myself, which I'll open on my com.

� The iTouch also has an e-textbook and a dictionary for Japanese which I'm using to learn the Japanese language. (picking up a new language is good stuff)

� The iTouch has a PDF reader. This is a very big plus since I can convert ANYTHING I want to read into PDF by printing it virtually through my computer's PDF printer.

� The iTouch has a read-it-later app which stores webpages...well... for reading later. I've not used the software yet because of the PDF reader. I find it more convenient just to print the webpage into a PDF file.

� The iTouch has games for entertainment when all the academia has worn me out. I also convert the Pok�mon Anime Series into a format playable on the iTouch which allows me to progress along the series.

� And lastly, the iPod Touch has what it was primarily designed to do: Play music.

� All this functionality means heavy usage, and thus the portable charger which runs on 4xAA batteries comes in handy when outfield. Batteries come cheap here, so no problem with that.

With all these, I'm practically almost living my usual life while getting paid for it. And, not only me, but I advised a friend to get an iPod Touch for the same reason too. To maximise whatever time he could snatch back from the SAF. He's so far been very satisfied I must say, considering much of the stuff he's interested in is stored in PDF format which that very useful app I mentioned can read.
I consider any time doing whatever you like to do as productive. This includes entertainment when you want it. If you're watching a movie because you have nothing better to do, then that is not productive. But if you're watching it because "omg! I heard that is awesome and I've finally managed to get my hands on it! Let's watch it!" then I'll consider that productive. After all, entertainment relieves stress and makes you happy and stuff...

There's more potential for upgrading my arsenal of gadgets, like a PSP and possibly Nintendo DS (I've to check the guidelines for the DS 'cause I'm not sure), but I'll say those are basically more entertainment only, which I do not require so much. Other than that, other things that they can possibly do like surfing the internet has already been covered with my two gadgets.

So... what am I doing with my life? Everything I possibly can! You should too!

22:31 13 Dec 2010