dal niente

Month: November, 2008


I was reading something on Levanna’s site about personalities and tried out this personality test based on the ideas of Jung.

Surprisingly, it’s pretty accurate.  I know everyone’s done these sorts of entertainment things before just to kill time, but I was honestly surprised at the results because they didn’t seem to be far off from the truth at all.  None of the questions asked anything about anything job related, yet based on the questions, the recommended fields of work for me were Social Services and Health Care.    These included careers in law, education, youth education, hospital work, counselling, library work, counselling and social worker.  Well– technically speaking, I’ve actually been a teacher, I’ve worked in a hospital, I’ve worked in a library, I worked in counselling breifly.  The only jobs on the list I haven’t tried are jobs in law and as a social worker.

My personality type, according to Carl Jung’s ideas, is an “Introverted (11%) Intuitive (25%) Feeling (25%) Judging (11%)” type.  The percentages indicate how far I deviate from neutral.

Below are a few articles about the INFJ personality type.  I think that of the bunch, the last article by Heiss is most accurate.  (I’ve scaled down the less important ones, but you can read those too if you’ve got nothing better to do)

Idealist Portrait of the Counselor (INFJ)

Counselors have an exceptionally strong desire to contribute to the welfare of others, and find great personal fulfillment interacting with people, nurturing their personal development, guiding them to realize their human potential. Although they are happy working at jobs (such as writing) that require solitude and close attention, Counselors do quite well with individuals or groups of people, provided that the personal interactions are not superficial, and that they find some quiet, private time every now and then to recharge their batteries. Counselors are both kind and positive in their handling of others; they are great listeners and seem naturally interested in helping people with their personal problems. Not usually visible leaders, Counselors prefer to work intensely with those close to them, especially on a one-to-one basis, quietly exerting their influence behind the scenes.

Counselors are scarce, little more than one percent of the population, and can be hard to get to know, since they tend not to share their innermost thoughts or their powerful emotional reactions except with their loved ones. They are highly private people, with an unusually rich, complicated inner life. Friends or colleagues who have known them for years may find sides emerging which come as a surprise. Not that Counselors are flighty or scattered; they value their integrity a great deal, but they have mysterious, intricately woven personalities which sometimes puzzle even them.

Counselors tend to work effectively in organizations. They value staff harmony and make every effort to help an organization run smoothly and pleasantly. They understand and use human systems creatively, and are good at consulting and cooperating with others. As employees or employers, Counselors are concerned with people’s feelings and are able to act as a barometer of the feelings within the organization.

Blessed with vivid imaginations, Counselors are often seen as the most poetical of all the types, and in fact they use a lot of poetic imagery in their everyday language. Their great talent for language-both written and spoken-is usually directed toward communicating with people in a personalized way. Counselors are highly intuitive and can recognize another’s emotions or intentions – good or evil – even before that person is aware of them. Counselors themselves can seldom tell how they came to read others’ feelings so keenly. This extreme sensitivity to others could very well be the basis of the Counselor’s remarkable ability to experience a whole array of psychic phenomena.

Mohandas Gandhi, Sidney Poitier, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jane Goodall, Emily Bronte, Sir Alec Guiness, Carl Jung, Mary Baker Eddy, Queen Noor are examples of the Counselor Idealist (INFJ).

Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging
by Joe Butt Profile: INFJ
Revision: 3.01
Date of Revision: 6 Mar 2005

Beneath the quiet exterior, INFJs hold deep convictions about the weightier matters of life. Those who are activists — INFJs gravitate toward such a role — are there for the cause, not for personal glory or political power.

INFJs are champions of the oppressed and downtrodden. They often are found in the wake of an emergency, rescuing those who are in acute distress. INFJs may fantasize about getting revenge on those who victimize the defenseless. The concept of ‘poetic justice’ is appealing to the INFJ.

“There’s something rotten in Denmark.” Accurately suspicious about others’ motives, INFJs are not easily led. These are the people that you can rarely fool any of the time. Though affable and sympathetic to most, INFJs are selective about their friends. Such a friendship is a symbiotic bond that transcends mere words.

INFJs have a knack for fluency in language and facility in communication. In addition, nonverbal sensitivity enables the INFJ to know and be known by others intimately.

Writing, counseling, public service and even politics are areas where INFJs frequently find their niche.

Functional Analysis:

Introverted iNtuition

Introverted intuitives, INFJs enjoy a greater clarity of perception of inner, unconscious processes than all but their INTJ cousins. Just as SP types commune with the object and “live in the here and now” of the physical world, INFJs readily grasp the hidden psychological stimuli behind the more observable dynamics of behavior and affect. Their amazing ability to deduce the inner workings of the mind, will and emotions of others gives INFJs their reputation as prophets and seers. Unlike the confining, routinizing nature of introverted sensing, introverted intuition frees this type to act insightfully and spontaneously as unique solutions arise on an event by event basis.

Extraverted Feeling

Extraverted feeling, the auxiliary deciding function, expresses a range of emotion and opinions of, for and about people. INFJs, like many other FJ types, find themselves caught between the desire to express their wealth of feelings and moral conclusions about the actions and attitudes of others, and the awareness of the consequences of unbridled candor. Some vent the attending emotions in private, to trusted allies. Such confidants are chosen with care, for INFJs are well aware of the treachery that can reside in the hearts of mortals. This particular combination of introverted intuition and extraverted feeling provides INFJs with the raw material from which perceptive counselors are shaped.

Introverted Thinking

The INFJ’s thinking is introverted, turned toward the subject. Perhaps it is when the INFJ’s thinking function is operative that he is most aloof. A comrade might surmise that such detachment signals a disillusionment, that she has also been found lacking by the sardonic eye of this one who plumbs the depths of the human spirit. Experience suggests that such distancing is merely an indication that the seer is hard at work and focusing energy into this less efficient tertiary function.

Extraverted Sensing

INFJs are twice blessed with clarity of vision, both internal and external. Just as they possess inner vision which is drawn to the forms of the unconscious, they also have external sensing perception which readily takes hold of worldly objects. Sensing, however, is the weakest of the INFJ’s arsenal and the most vulnerable. INFJs, like their fellow intuitives, may be so absorbed in intuitive perceiving that they become oblivious to physical reality. The INFJ under stress may fall prey to various forms of immediate gratification. Awareness of extraverted sensing is probably the source of the “SP wannabe” side of INFJs. Many yearn to live spontaneously; it’s not uncommon for INFJ actors to take on an SP (often ESTP) role.

Famous INFJs:

Nathan, prophet of Israel
Robert Burns, Scottish poet

U.S. Presidents:
Martin Van Buren
James Earl “Jimmy” Carter

Nathaniel Hawthorne
Fanny Crosby, (blind) hymnist
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Fred McMurray (My Three Sons)
Shirley Temple Black, child actor, ambassador
Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader, martyr
James Reston, newspaper reporter
Shirley McClain (Sweet Charity, …)
Piers Anthony, author (“Xanth” series)
Michael Landon (Little House on the Prairie)
Tom Selleck
John Katz, critic, author
Paul Stookey (Peter, Paul and Mary)
U. S. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun (D-IL)
Billy Crystal
Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury)
Nelson Mandela
Mel Gibson
Carrie Fisher
Nicole Kidman
Jerry Seinfeld
Jamie Foxx
Sela Ward
Mark Harmon
Gary Dourdan
Marg Helgaberger
Evangeline Lilly
Tori May

Introverted iNtuiting Feeling Judging

by Marina Margaret Heiss

INFJs are distinguished by both their complexity of character and the unusual range and depth of their talents. Strongly humanitarian in outlook, INFJs tend to be idealists, and because of their J preference for closure and completion, they are generally “doers” as well as dreamers. This rare combination of vision and practicality often results in INFJs taking a disproportionate amount of responsibility in the various causes to which so many of them seem to be drawn.

INFJs are deeply concerned about their relations with individuals as well as the state of humanity at large. They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people — a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world. On the contrary, INFJs are true introverts, who can only be emotionally intimate and fulfilled with a chosen few from among their long-term friends, family, or obvious “soul mates.” While instinctively courting the personal and organizational demands continually made upon them by others, at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates. This apparent paradox is a necessary escape valve for them, providing both time to rebuild their depleted resources and a filter to prevent the emotional overload to which they are so susceptible as inherent “givers.” As a pattern of behavior, it is perhaps the most confusing aspect of the enigmatic INFJ character to outsiders, and hence the most often misunderstood — particularly by those who have little experience with this rare type.

Due in part to the unique perspective produced by this alternation between detachment and involvement in the lives of the people around them, INFJs may well have the clearest insights of all the types into the motivations of others, for good and for evil. The most important contributing factor to this uncanny gift, however, are the empathic abilities often found in Fs, which seem to be especially heightened in the INFJ type (possibly by the dominance of the introverted N function).

This empathy can serve as a classic example of the two-edged nature of certain INFJ talents, as it can be strong enough to cause discomfort or pain in negative or stressful situations. More explicit inner conflicts are also not uncommon in INFJs; it is possible to speculate that the causes for some of these may lie in the specific combinations of preferences which define this complex type. For instance, there can sometimes be a “tug-of-war” between NF vision and idealism and the J practicality that urges compromise for the sake of achieving the highest priority goals. And the I and J combination, while perhaps enhancing self-awareness, may make it difficult for INFJs to articulate their deepest and most convoluted feelings.

Usually self-expression comes more easily to INFJs on paper, as they tend to have strong writing skills. Since in addition they often possess a strong personal charisma, INFJs are generally well-suited to the “inspirational” professions such as teaching (especially in higher education) and religious leadership. Psychology and counseling are other obvious choices, but overall, INFJs can be exceptionally difficult to pigeonhole by their career paths. Perhaps the best example of this occurs in the technical fields. Many INFJs perceive themselves at a disadvantage when dealing with the mystique and formality of “hard logic”, and in academic terms this may cause a tendency to gravitate towards the liberal arts rather than the sciences. However, the significant minority of INFJs who do pursue studies and careers in the latter areas tend to be as successful as their T counterparts, as it is *iNtuition* — the dominant function for the INFJ type — which governs the ability to understand abstract theory and implement it creatively.

In their own way, INFJs are just as much “systems builders” as are INTJs; the difference lies in that most INFJ “systems” are founded on human beings and human values, rather than information and technology. Their systems may for these reasons be conceptually “blurrier” than analogous NT ones, harder to measure in strict numerical terms, and easier to take for granted — yet it is these same underlying reasons which make the resulting contributions to society so vital and profound.

Copyright © 1996-2007 by Marina Margaret Heiss and Joe Butt

The World Begins With You

It’s almost 2:30am, and I’ve just finished the NDS game, The World Ends With You.

I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who intend to play it, but I really enjoyed this game, so if you have an NDS, don’t read any further.

Perhaps one of the underlying themes of the game is that we’re always getting hurt.  We always “clash,” as the protagonist says– and that’s why he chooses not to get involved with others, he chooses to keep his world as his own and let nobody in.  As he progresses through the game though, his opinion changes.  This is mostly because he inadvertently is forced to team up with some people.  Through deaths, betrayals, dreams made and dreams broken, he grows up a bit– he looks the same by the end of the story, yet his tone is markedly different.

Through the clashes, he’s come to understand that if the world ends with him, then he needs to go out there and risk clashes, he needs to do that otherwise he will never grow.  If he doesn’t put himself in situations where he might get hurt, he never discovers anything new– without working for the things and people he holds precious, he will be as good as dead.

I have yet to see a real life story where there is a happy ending.  But I suppose even if I saw it, would I believe it?  I wouldn’t understand it, not truly from the inside out, since my very perception is referenced to my own experiences.  So then, I suppose that I, like everybody, have no choice but to go forth in spite of everything that would spite us in our search for whatever it is we decide to look for.  Simple, no?  Find the things we can connect to.

Comfort Zones

I was watching “Along Came Polly.”  Enjoyed the idea of it all.

I was looking at the exchange rates between Canada and Korea.  It’s not looking good for people who want to change Korean money into Korean– it was bad when I left Korea, and it’s worse now.  Since the last time I started a contract, the exchange rate has dropped by about 20% in my disfavor (assuming that I’m earning Korean won).  It really takes a fair bit of shine off the idea of working in Korea again.

I’ve been thinking about a lot of things with regards to ‘life’ lately– you know, the usual.  Family, relationships, money, careers, making a difference– not necessarily in that order.  And you know what?  I think that I have enough honesty to say that I don’t like thinking about it.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t– it just means that I don’t really like ‘dreaming’ about anything, I rather enjoy enjoying myself and that’s about it.

On a side note, I’m going to make an effort every now and then to make shorter posts.

I think, the strange thing is, the more I say sometimes the less I actually manage to explain, or things just get explained a bit ‘wrong.’

I was talking with my cousin yesterday about various things but I don’t know what is it about talking about ‘things,’ I felt that though I was explaining my thoughts I wasn’t actually able to do so.  Does that make sense?

This is partly why I haven’t been writing much lately– can’t get the ideas into thoughts.

I suppose I persist only in defiance of my inability…

I like doing things that I’m good at.

At the moment, I’m not very good at taekwondo, the way it’s being trained at my current dojang.  Do the math– I don’t like it.  And I’m being honest– I’m not liking it because I’m not good at it.  As expected, the jump from the Korean system to the Montreal system was pretty big.  TKD footwork is completely different (and might I add, counterintuitive) from anything I’ve trained in the past.  The current TKD school is very heavily sparring based, but it’s by TKD rules.  I’d like to think that I’m doing TKD mostly for health, but to a certain extent I am doing it because it gives me some confidence in the real world.  However, the infighting ranges of TKD really, really bother me.  They really, really bother me.

It’s not really fair of me to compare apples an oranges though.  I am learning, mind you.  For example, I learned on thursday that if there are many people in the class and I’m slow about picking out a chest protector, I may end up wearing a junior guard– which looks just like an adult one in size, but it’s about 1/3 of the padding and it really doesn’t diffuse much damage when your partner is a 2nd or 3rd degree black belt.  I have learned that although I don’t like standing there during a drill with my hands crossed behind my back as someone repeatedly kicks me in the midsection that out of all things in the course of the footwork intensive class, taking a beating is the only thing that I excell at.

Not that I’m damage resistant– but I guess my willpower holds up pretty well, all things considered.  I think I have a couple of bruised ribs.

At once, I am annoyed an humbled, and at the same time, for the first time in a while, I have some people who I can look up to.

Tomorrow is RsM.   As part of the ‘no excuses’ campaign I’m putting myself on, I’m no longer going to say “I’m rusty,” because 3 weeks of playing would basically really just mean that if I’m not doing well, I’m either “lazy” or “uncommited.”


So, I got a brand new uniform (dobok) for taekwondo yesterday.

First thing I did when I got home from training was throw it in the laundry.

With my parents’ red sheets.



Something better than vanilla

I wonder what it’s like to be good at something.  I mean, really good at something.  The best.

I wonder if that’s even possible?  Perhaps not, except for a moment in time.

I mean, we’ve all been on podiums for this or that before– but then, we threw back a couple of years here and there and before we knew it, they were just memories of the glory days.

Isn’t it terrifying that the only direction we have is forward, into the unknown?

Officially, I cannot use the “I’m rusty at badminton because I haven’t played in over half a year, and I haven’t played seriously in over a year.”  No more of those kinds of excuses– at this point, I’ll just have to accept where I am as far as my abilities go, and either accept that that is my level or do something about it to get better.

I mention badminton at this point because badminton is something, like so many other things, that I was passionate about, and now am passionate about.  There was a space in between where I didn’t care that I had it.  Like other things too.

Have you ever dropped something or even someone that you loved, only to find a period after that you really don’t remember anything about how it felt until you do something that triggers a perfect sensation, something in sync with that original elation?

When I was in high school, I played in the band.  I even got a chair in the RCMP’s concert band.  Back then, music was my life.  Everything revolved around that.  But I moved on– I dropped it after I left high school.  They were some of the best days, but the fact is that when I dropped it, I barely turned back– I found other things to do.

Will there always be something else to do?

Will I always be able to learn something new?

On Saturday, I played badminton at my club.  There was a Lakeshore Badminton Association league game on Saturday.  Pierrefonds was the visiting team, playing against RsM A it is was a division 2 game.

The divisions have undergone some restructuring while I was gone it seems– Division 2 is really nothing to scoff at, from what I’ve heard from my cousin of some of the teams out there.  The last time I played in the LBA, my team and I were ranked first in Div 4.  Anyway.


People and their emotions, their passions… I’ve found that throughout the years, the hobbies might change, but these things remain the same.  And perhaps this is why there will always be somethng else to do, something new to learn– something great to experience.

On Saturday, the Pierrefonds team was missing one male player, and somehow, I got volunteered to play for them.  It was a rather funny team, and some of the people there jokingly chided me: “What the hell man!  A two time champion Captain, playing for the ennemy?”

At least, I hope they were jokes.

But this is what people do.  This is part of the experience.

I didn’t really care who I played for because badminton is badminton– RsM doesn’t have the monopoly on badminton.  And frankly, I don’t have an LBA team anymore– and that was one of the things I missed while playing badminton in Korea.  It might even have been part of the reason why I got bored and quit playing.

The difference between a league sanctioned game and a regular game is that everything matters.  Every point you score is something that adds up to the result of the team.  Teamwork and team spirit are essential– without it, loesses are either guaranteed or victories are meaningless.  The Pierrefonds group that I was playing with– only two out of the six players were actually regular players, the other 3 were substitute players called at the last minute, and then there was number 6, me, who had never played with any of these people before.  So there was a bit of a concern on my end about the team issue.

We did a really good job though, all things considered.  There was one objective that I had– that was to beat the team of Q and J (from RsM).  I was paired with a guy almost twice my age and who was kind of tall, so while he was serving I had a lot of difficulty seeing what was going on,  but we got it done.  Somehow, good communication, confidence and high spirits kept my partner and I going.  We lost the set, but not without putting up a fight.  We won the first game 25-23, lost the second 24-22, and lost the final one 21-18.  So, they were all close, and two overtimes went in there.  I consider it a victory as far as I was concerned, because J has really improoved over the past year, and Q was better than me even before I left, and there’s no doubt that I became worse of a player, technically, while I was in Korea.

So how did we manage to score 1 win, and two close losses?

It was just teamwork.

On my end, I couldn’t really get the bird to do what I wanted– my smashes were too flat, my interceptions were timed poorly, my slow drops weren’t very accurate.  I needed to substitute with mental toughness and patience.

The tactic that I suggested was to pick on J.  Not that J’s a bad player– he’s at least as good as I am, and he’s stronger– but he’s not as strong as Q.  The weakness of their team wasn’t in their abilities, but in their cooperation.

Target J– force him to be the only one to make errors.  That makes Q antsy.  When Q gets frustrated, he’ll start giving J more and more orders which will cramp his style– they’ll try to make changes in game, and that’s when the openings will present themselves.

And while all that is was planned to go on in the other court, our plan was to brandish high spirits at all times.

And it worked!

Eventually Q and J started discussing their tactics. I won’t say arguing because J wasn’t disagreeing with Q, but Q was doing a lot of what I’d consider complaining.  They began to have this barrier between them during rallies, and you could sense the division in the air.  To rub it home, whenever my partner and I scored well we’d automatically do the high five. My partner and I, also the underdogs, had the crowd on our side– something like 3-5 of the Pierrefonds teamers were cheering and clapping for our rallies, whereas J and Q weren’t getting much support at all from the RsM group (where were they?)  In order to get the crowd more on our side, my partner and I decided that we’d embrace our underdog status and adopt a strategy of “never give up.”

It happens sometimes that you’re late to deffend an attack and that if you think about it, even if you manage to return the bird, the counter to your half baked recovery will be severly punished by the other team.  Thus, mathematically, it means that it’s in your best interests to not even try to get it.  Save your energy.

We did the exact opposite– every bird, if we could get to it, we would.  There are two reasons for adopting this kind of strategy, even though it’s a bit of a gamble.

Firstly, if the crowd is tuned right, the “never give up” spirit really gets the audience on your side.  Indirectly, this is a weapon.  If you can do something to please the audience that gets them to cheer for you, it directly  affects the performance of your opponents.

Secondly, if you do a desperation save and the opponent fails to capitalize on it due to an unforced error, the crowd goes insane, and your opponent takes severe mental damage.  It happened at this particular part of the game where I was covering my partner’s mistake– I was late to get to an attack drive on my backhand corner, but I managed to get to it by taking a spinning dive.  The bird was totally misaimed and instead of being a straight clear  turned into a midcourt clear, right into their prime smashing zone.  The opponent though went for the smash and botched, slamming the bird into the net instead.  From that point on, the mental damage suffered by the other team enabled us to close a 5 point lead.  On one hand, the person who  missed the smash felt embarassed and frustrated at missing it, while his partner probably lost a bit of confidence and felt a bit more isolated.

The mental toll was really visible on the other team, since they weren’t communicating at all by the third game of the set.

The tradeoff of “never give up” though is that it takes a physical toll on you– by the third game, my legs were slowing down a bit and my shoulder was starting to give out.  My partner’s feet also were noticibly getting slower, and in the end, he and I lost because of the technical gap.

In the end, RsM won the encounter, winning 6 sets versus Pierrefonds 3 sets, but each one of those sets was well contested with almost none of them being over in just 2 straight rounds.

Why do I mention it when I lost?

Because RsM won?

No– just because it was the most fun badminton game I’d played in a year.

When there is an audience cheering for you, and when you’re on that court and you can feel the raw emotions that tell you just when your partner is gonna give you a high five, or when you just yell out “EXCELLENT” all automatically when something works out just right, when you see the look of anger in your opponent’s eyes, hidden thinly, when you feel the tension in your opponent’s muscles as they struggle to muster their concentration against the will of their emotions– that stuff is delicious.

Whatever it is that we chose to value, that very choice is what gives that thing it’s flavor to us.

One Hook In

So, I just finished my interview with the Seoul Ministry of Education and the guy offered me, flat out at the end of it, one of 10 remaining positions at the Seoul English Education Center.

It’s not a public school, it’s a simulated “English Village” sort of setup. The job pays about 200 000 won more (about 160$ more) than my old job, furnishes me with a new apartment built just 8 months ago, pays for all my utilities and makes me teach about 22 hours per week (about 8 hours less than my previous job). The interesting thing is that a lot of the teaching will be done ‘in the field.’ This means that we’re going to be going to the simulated post-offices, airports, movie theatres, etc, which all have English speaking employees. Basically, it’s a giant theme park where English is the theme.

Now, I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about some English Villages, in particular THE English village– however, this particular institute is owned and run by the SMOE, so I trust it a bit more.

Nontheless, I’m not 100% sure if I want that job yet.

I have my interview with EPIK scheduled for tomorrow, who handles the hiring for the rest of South Korea’s ministries (in particular Bussan, which appeals to me) so we’ll go through that first and see what my options are.

I’m sorta intrigued by the SEEC offer because the turnover of kids is really high (you get a new batch of students every week almost) and the whole real-world applied English seems a lot less contrived than what I used to do at my previous Academy. I mean, to be honest– my only question is, is it worse than my previous job?

Well, I’m pretty proud of myself for getting the offer! The job certainly sounds appealing (although, of course, it’s the dude’s job to make it sound like that.)

There’s always the actual question of whether or not I want to go back to Korea as a bottom line…

The World Begins With You

Somebody said that it all began like soup.  This happened, then this, then this… and in the heartbeat of a universe, we end up where we are now.

How much of that are we aware of, really?  If I told you that Canada was founded in a grand succession of stories involving Native Americans, fur, canoes, scurvies, patatoe famines, civil wars… how much of that do you really believe with your heart with any serious honesty over a book off the fiction shelf?

And if you told me you didn’t care, I’d believe you.

The truth is, truth is perceived.  You can tell me that 1 + 1 = 2 and that this is mathematical fact– but facts themselves are only availble to us because we like to agree on systems, on conventions.  1 + 1 can equal 10.

Even if you gave me a pair of oranges, I could argue that we’re agreeing on just what an orange is– because no two are identical, are they? So how can we say that orange = 1?

Of course, when we assign value, it comes down to ideas.  Ideas, representation… all that.

It’s not worthwhile for the most part to redesign physics or mathematics, it’s a lot easier to extend and to continue building it (which is what we’ve more or less been doing for the last several centuries).

We still get to a fundamental problem when it comes to an individual though.  The existential crisis.

Just what does it mean to be you?  What is your purpose?

Who are you?

Sciences will give you some answers, but they’d all be in terms of their counting systems– grams, atoms, volts, force– all that stuff that makes you up biologically.   Psychology can to a certain exetent be explained by looking at statistics and records, and even then, we can also link it to biological and chemical factors.

But who are you?

At end of your day, you are no more or no less than you believe yourself to be.  True, others can have an opinion of you– but at the end of the day, you only answer to yourself.

The insults, and even the compliments, they ultimately have no more affect than you allow them to.  Ask the sociopath.  He’s got the right idea.

Goodness might be incidental– in the sense that people can peer pressure you into doing things along a certain set of rules that everyone agrees on as being good for the collective, which in itself is the reason why you should be doing those things.

But I think true goodness isn’t incidental– it is inherent in an action that adheres simply to the belief of the person who commits it.

I don’t think that the world is necessarily good or bad.  I think that good and bad are just tags.  The ideas exist in retrospect of a summation of the results– what we think is good or bad in the future is us doing the math, to the best of our abilities, according to the scenarios, trying to find some sort of system to the chaos of people having their own wants.

It just so happens that most people want to survive, which is why a sense of good and bad evolved, I think.  It’s and Idea that persists because we throughout the ages, someone thought that everyone believes they want to be safe.  If nobody cared about being safe and nobody thought that working in groups gave them better chances, then we’d either have wiped ourselves out or have all moved to separate islands.

Lets put survival on the side for a moment.  Lets talk about the other stuff that makes us who we are:


The Red Dragon

I was playing Final Fantasy IV at my grandparents’ place this afternoon.  I’m on the final stage if I remember correctly– beat the Giant from the inside out, now I’m in the cavern below the crystal temple– and there’s this point where you open up a chest and get a treasure and then out comes this Red Dragon.

Freaking Red Dragon!

It is, in a sense, just a mini-boss, but it does thermal beam once, my party is crippled.  If it casts thermal beam a second time, 4/5 of my party members are dead.  Well, at that point, one man trying to decide weather to revive to partial life or to partially heal himself, well– lets just say that a third blast of thermal beams pretty much ends the game.

FFIV is a freaking hard game, and it grind me in all the wrong ways sometimes.  It’s got a good story and I really like the dialogue, however, there are some random battles or minibosses that are so beyond the level of the environment that they totally paste your team.  It’s often a situation where you have to reload, spend half an hour leveling up, and then trying again.

Probably with the Red Dragon is that I got to that chest about 40 minutes after wandering around in these underground caves– that’s  a really long time back to the last save point.  I wish they’d put more save points.  I don’t doubt that I can beat him in the future, just that the whole process of getting there in the first place took SO damn long and I was pasted just because I’m playnig in ATB mode.

Damn you Red Dragon!


I wonder how it is with other families.

In my family, family arguments (meaning, me or my sister vs my mom) aren’t really arguments at all.

I say this because nobody really get their points across at all.  My sister grew up, I think, I with a different relation to my parents compared to me in the sense that she’ll actually take the time to fight back with my mom.  My mom doesn’t usually add much to the conversation– usually it’s that she thinks something is a Bad Idea and then it’s all rationalization, usually a few ideas repeated and rephrased a hundred times with a lot of upset expressions and tones to support this idea.  It is impossible to separate an argument from emotions for my mom.  It doesn’t really matter what the case is– as soon as Bad Idea mode has been adopted, there is no convincing her, and there will be hell to pay.  I am not understating it.  My mom is the single most proud person I know.  As intelligent and as charismatic as she is, it all comes from the fact that she’s adamant.

I probably get it from her, as they say.

She has good reason to be proud.  We grew up kinda poor, and now we’re really comfortable financially.  My dad does a lot of hard work in his own way, but financially, it’s my mom’s salary that took us up.  She’s done a lot of work for the family– not just my immediate household, but because she’s in healthcare, there’s a lot of extra stuff that gets pinned on her whenever someone in the family is sick or has anything to deal with.  She does so with complaints, but she always does so dutifully– because despite it all, a lot of our definition of family is Confucian in nature.  Duty to family is above all.  She’s got a reputation in the family as a result of this dedication, despite that she’s hardly the easiest person to get along with.

And of course, on top of the list of achievements, there’s the fact that she and my dad raised my sister and I.  That’s something to put on your resume.  They never, and still don’t, ever give up on us.

The problem is that when it comes to giving up, the opposite state is succeeding– and there lie the roots of the ‘arguments.’

Fundamentally, my parents have a very different outlook on life from me.  This isn’t saying that I could really define their philosophy on life easily, nor could I define my own and break it down for you point for point– but you all have parents or you all have people you know who you just disagree with some issues about.  And the issues are just the symptoms of underlying philosophies of life which you can’t always define, but, you just feel it in the moments of honesty.

Anyway, the whole process of arguing with my folks is kinda pointless, especially my mom.  She’s never changed her stance on anything once she’s taken it up– and really, even when she knows she’s wrong, she just keeps her ground for the sake of it.

It didn’t exactly come as a surprise that Mom is vehemently opposed to me returning to Korea for a second year with intentions to make a career out of it, but tonight is the first time the subject ever came up since my return.  It’s a tricky subject to even attempt to debate– mostly because she’s pulling the whole “what about your family?” angle.

Now, I’m doing my very best to look at my options objectively in terms of what I want out of life and what is in the best interests of my future.  It gets bit complicated because the basic way that the don’t-go-to-Korea angle has been defined is that Korea  = you’re turning your back on your family.

Which, I think, is bullshit.  It is hurtful bullshit that is emotional blackmail, in my opinion.

She says things like this though because in her own way, she cares.

Which is why at the end of the day there is no way to argue about this– because no matter how I point out the financial, professional and personal advantages of going back to Korea, it will all be stacked as if I’m prioritizing it against family.

I understand her point of view.  I really do.  In my youthful indiscretions, I’ve caused my parents especially a great deal of pain– but they were always there when I needed them.  I do not take a decision about returning or not to Korea lightly, and in fact, in my mind, I’m arguing all of her points on her behalf against the other half of me that wants to return.

But ultimately, it is my choice.  If I go back to Korea, I do it for myself.  It is a selfish choice.  If I stay in Montreal, I do it for myself.  This too would be necessarily a selfish choice– my parents’ arguments aside, their emotions are already part of my calculations– inasmuch as they by necessity can’t factor in at all.  I don’t consider going to Korea turning my back on my family.  Conversely, I honestly don’t think that staying here makes our family stronger either.


This is all going to get a lot tougher before it gets easier.  I wish they’d just understand something simple– not that this isn’t any of their business, I am after all the only son, but, it’s out of their control.  Ultimately, that summarizes perhaps the pain of parenting– that the welfare of their kids is always their business at least in theory, but that they never really can make the decisions past a certain point.

To answer the featured question: my number, both lucky and unlucky, is zero.

It is the mystery of a blank page with nothing written on it, or, as the age may suit, perhaps a blank screen.  It’s where you are before any commitment.  It’s where you are with everything in mind but nothing at all, because at some point, you do really have to throw everything away, cut out all the emotions and all the facts, grit your teeth and simply make a leap, to One, in any direction– and that’s life.

Some choices in life need talk, they need discussion.  But sometimes, there’s nothing more to be said– and there we have zero, just waiting for the next moment.  It is a point of equilibrium with so much on the left and so much on the right that you might as well drop everything and flip a coin.


I just answered this Featured Question; you can answer it too!

4 seconds

I started doing some jogging last week.  Last thursday, on my way home, I got off at Jolicoeur metro and jogged the 4.47km home–  GPS tells me that I was doing an average pace of 7 minutes per kilometer.  Since then, I’ve been doing a bit of running here and there, and today, at a balmy outdoor temperature of -4 degrees Celsius, I decided to strap on the GPS and see if I could do any better.  Well, today, I didn’t do 4.47 km straight, I ran to the mall and back to buy something, so there was something like a 30 minute break in between.  If I tally it up though, the same 4.47km distsance was done at an average of 5minutes and 56 seconds per kilometer.

It’s not exactly an accurate comparisson, but today was a lot colder than last thursday and there are less tall building in my neighborhood so the windchill is also a big factor.

My current rates are nothing compared to my dad, about twice my age, who goes at an average 6 minute / kilometer rate, for 15 km straight. o_O

During the run, my thoughts were:

  • I can’t believe how sweaty I feel
  • my groin is freezing (mental note: wear  pair of cargo shorts or something on top of my two layer pants next time)
  • i HATE this
  • ARG!  Why can’t I keep my average speed at 6minute/km?  Why do I keep getting stuck at 6:04?? (Eventually I would just go all out and finish at 5:56 though….)
  • i HATE this
  • i HATE this

I think it begs the obvious question: if I hate running so much, why do I do it?

Well, the main reason is because the last time I was at tkd I injured my foot and my forearm.  Each had a sizable lump, I’m not particularly sure of any particular impact that did it.  I’ve been RICEing it all for the past few days and at least the injury on my instep is now just a bruise, no internal damage– however I wasn’t really in the mood to cause more tissue damage so I decided that I’d opt out of today’s TKD class and not risk an overal longer recovery time.  A bit of running will get my blood going and won’t interfere with my foot’s recovery.  My neck is almost completely healed– always a bit stiff though, which is really annoying.  I wonder if it will recover up to 100%?

On a more general note, I’ve started running because I have some amount of free time– I don’t have space in my home to start kicking around, and it’s the ‘easiest’ way for me to get some cardio done.  I can’t say for sure if it’ll become a real hobby or not yet, I’m sorta still testing out the waters, but frankly I’ve got a fair amount of cardio capacity leftover from Korea which is quickly just degenerating, so I’d like to at least keep some of a year’s hard work with me at the price of a little maintenance.

Also, it’s been a subject of reference for my dad and I.  He loves running, you see.  Being away for a year in Korea hasn’t in the slightest made my family any more interested in any stories I might have of Korea– in fact, if you’ve been reading my blog, you probably know a lot more about the place than they do.  But, if I talk about the day’s run, there’s a conversation