Couple documents building a house in Alaska

Ana and Jacob White live in rural Alaska. Ana moved from urban USA to rural Alaska for Jacob, so he promised that he would build her their forever home.

I love that they built it together, from foundations up. The whole process is documented on Youtube. Highly recommend.

They’re such a lovely, authentic and caring family. So much DIY and SketchUp on their channel! Can you sense my excitement?!

Also check out Ana’s site where she shares free woodworking plans.

2019 Spreadsheet for Savings Accounts + Rebate Credit Card Combo (Singapore)

v1.01. Updated 20 Jan 2019

Click to view spreadsheet

 

The Other Half did up a spreadsheet to estimate which savings account and rebate card combo best suits our spending pattern.

We prefer rebate and interest over points as we get our returns sooner, and have the freedom to swap to better plans as needed, without feeling tied down by points.

This spreadsheet was done after reading through extremely lengthy (and sometimes confusing) terms and conditions from various Singapore banks.

Hope this helps someone!

Comments activated for feedback.

8 questions to ask at job interviews

This post is for me to archive general interview questions that I tend to ask, and maybe someone will find them useful!

So I’ve been going to job interviews these past few years. Interviews give me such a bag of nerves that when it comes to “do you have any questions?”, I just remember 1 or 2 of the questions that I had prepared.

As I get more comfortable and confident going for interviews, now I have no qualms about fishing out my notebook or phone (depending on where the prepared questions were noted down), whilst saying, “give me a moment to check my questions”.

The questions are loosely organised in chronological order as the interview progresses. Meaning that questions that should be asked earlier are listed first.

1. What does your ideal candidate look like?

A job description has so many requirements. Generally, interviewers will list their key requirements in response to this question. Then you’ll be able to cite relevant experiences that directly fit the role.

2. What is the growth path of this role?

This shows that you’re keen on staying and growing with the company for awhile (which I sure hope you are!). Also it helps you figure out if the planned growth path suits your long-term goals. If not, there’s still time to communicate that to the interviewer and see if there could be an alternative growth path.

3. What are the short and long-term plans of the department/company?

This is different from question #2. This shows that you’re interested in the environment around you (you better be cos it definitely has an impact on you!). You can also see if the plans tie in with your growth. If it does, communicate it with the interviewer so this shows that you’re personally invested and motivated in being successful in this role.

4. What is your working style?

Being able to work well with your boss is so important! When you get to talk to your direct reporting manager, it’s good to find out what they’re like. If you’re similar, or appreciate their style, tell them! It builds rapport. Also, bosses, like anyone are just looking for people that they can work well with.

5. What is your managerial style?

This is different from question #4. If they have experience managing staff, it will be evident after this question. You’ll be able to tell how they care, how they lead and how they expect work to be done.

6. Could you share any concerns that you have about me regarding this role?

Such an important question! Ask this towards the end of the interview. Then you’ll be able to (hopefully) address any lingering doubts about you.

7. What are the next steps of the interview process and the expected timeline?

This will help you manage your expectations on how short or long the interview process will be. You’ll also know when to ask HR or the recruiter for updates without being pushy.

8. Do you have any feedback for me?

I asked this question on a whim when I felt a really good rapport with the interviewer. The answer was invaluable. Please ask this when possible!

Good luck!

PS: I can’t emphasise the usefulness of bringing a notebook/scribble pad to an interview. An interviewer suggested using “pieces of paper” to help with organising thoughts (after I asked “do you have any general feedback”), I acted on it in a subsequent interview, and used it to organise an answer to an on-the-spot scenario-based question. So good!

PPS: After writing this post, I realised that I could have done so much better at past interviews. Then again, that’s why I blog – to reflect, learn and grow.

Donations in Singapore

Updated 8 Jan 2019

Google “Singapore donations” and you’ll find MANY blog posts on lists of places to donate. But where are the donations going?

I reached out to friends, googled places and cross-checked with Journey to Zero Waste Life in Singapore Facebook group. Robin, the admin, seems to be quite an informed and logical person.

I’m personally okay if donated items do not go directly to beneficiaries, but be transparent about it. Then the donor can make an informed decision.

Swapping is an option, but my plan is to get rid of items.

1. Items to Directly Benefit Beneficiaries

2. Beneficiary Unknown

  • Clothes (unconfirmed)Holy Family Church Thrift Shop (East Coast)
    Not much useful information on the thrift shop could be found. Items could be sold to benefit the church

Please read this very informative post on places to donate clothes in Singapore. The list does not include any of the places listed above.

Conversation: Online Shopping

Person A to a group of people: I want to buy something online. Can I borrow someone’s credit card?

People: Why? Don’t you have your own?

Person A: I’m not sure how reputable the site is. So don’t want anything to happen to my credit card.

In Singlish, this is called sabo

deliberately causing trouble or inconvenience to someone

2018 Looking back

In the first quarter of 2018, I bought Shawn Blanc’s Plan Your Year and used it to set my priorities for the year. Work and Health.

1. Getting fit and Stacked at WorkLiftBalance

Witj health a priority, I researched exercise classes to attend. Thanks to a natural tendency of committing to and trying out various exercise organisations for over 10 years, I had a fairly clear list of “wants”.

  • Convenient location from home
  • Committed and strict instructors
  • Welcoming environment
  • No shoes needed (preferably)
  • Small group classes
  • Fits the budget

WorkLiftBalance has 3-monthly packages that allow a maximum of 3 group classes a week, which suit me just fine as I was trying to exercise a minimum of 3 times a week. I also believe in trying new exercise places over a few months to build chemistry with instructors and better understand the exercises.

Almost a year later, I am fitter, way stronger, have more energy, have minimal pain and am in the process of adapting to better sitting and walking postures.

2. Reuniting with a New Family

You know how life is unplanned. Yup. This.

For various reasons, I had yet to meet the Other Half’s grandparents and their children. This year, we decided to visit them (they live in another country). It was so nice to see the joy in their faces and our hearts felt so so full. We have made a few more trips since – for both grandparents birthdays, which enabled us to meet the aunts, uncles and their children.

The initial trip led to more trips and we managed to reconnect before it was too late. Grandpa passed away in the third quarter of 2018. He was stubborn, witty and had the Other Half’s sense of humour (it’s genetic). Truly great fun.

Funerals bring everyone together. We met the whole extended family.

No words can express the amount of love I felt.

3. Work-Life

2018 didn’t result in much career progression on paper. However, the time, space and opportunities afforded allowed me to figure out the next steps.

Grateful for the close friends, experienced adults and the Other Half for shining pools of light whilst I reflected and questioned myself.

 


 

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

– A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

 

So long 2018.

Cleaning old RSS feeds

Since Google Reader was discontinued, I switched to Feed Wrangler, a subscription-based service.

This has allowed me to test various RSS apps, before settling on Reeder for MacOS and iOS. Feed Wrangler’s cloud sync has kept read, unread and starred articles in-sync across both platforms and more if needed.

In the spirit of spring cleaning, also a Chinese New Year tradition, I have been culling old RSS feeds. Down by one third and feeling a lot lighter.

Loss and grief

Within a span of 2 weeks, 2 deaths occurred.

A human and an animal. Both received tears.

But the grieving had started earlier. When the probable signs showed.

Being Buddhist, I understood death to be a part of life.

The Other Half and I had discussed it when we dated. Facing the statistic that females tended to live longer than males, and that we were the same age, there was a high chance that I would eventually be without him. With that in mind, and because we enjoy each other’s company, it is with great sincerity that I tell others, “I won’t be attending your event as I prefer to spend time with the Other Half”.

Death reminds me that our time is finite, and that the less time spent arguing, the more time we have to enjoy the time together.

An old woman once told me that wisdom and compassion are not given to us; they can only be discovered. The experience of discovery means letting go of what we know. When we move through the terrible transformation of the elements of loss and grief, we may discover the truth of the impermanence of everything in our life, and of course, of this very life itself.

In this way, grief and sorrow may teach us gratitude for what we have been given, even the gift of suffering. From her we learn to swim in the stream of universal sorrow. And in that stream, we may even find joy. For this Buddhist, this is the essence of a liberative practice.

A Buddhist Perspective on Grieving” by Roshi Joan Halifax
ᔥ PBS.org

During the funeral, I wondered if I should be crying a lot more, like others, and since I wasn’t, did it mean that I wasn’t as upset?

Then again, as an introvert, I realised that my most private emotions, like grief, happen internally, away from everyone. Writing it here, in a public space, is my form of dealing with the grief.

Of looking at it, understanding it, putting it away and finding peace.

Every now and then, my peace comes from sending metta to them.

Everything takes time

“Go big or go home” is the Other Half’s and my maxim for life.

With that maxim, we say no a lot.

No to many social events – e.g. dinners, weddings, parties etc.

No to consistent gaming – e.g. intensive mobile and computer games

We set up routines and shared calendars, reducing the need to constantly communicate and chances of miscommunication.

This allows us to focus on the things that we want to do.

Spend time with each other, close friends, family and health.

I used to say yes a lot. To be pulled in all directions, get stressed, not deliver well.

We are not perfect. But we encourage each other and work at it.

Everything takes time.

Choose what you want and do it well.