Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Musical journey (112)

So the company I've been working for the past year has decided to end my contract which though was something I've prepared myself for (as it's really quite a common practice in my line of work), it still was an undesirable outcome. I shall not whinge about how wrong that decision was as a single post is not enough to quench the heat. Consequently I had to scramble to line up my next gig and of course my back-to-work-post-holiday start date of 10-Feb-2020 is too far away for my parent firm to make any concrete plans. To make matters worse, my manager is from another company that has been acquired recently and he's based in Brisbane so I couldn't be further away from his "radar".

Suffice to say I have no work lined up in 2020 and I was basically told to just rock up to the office and will be given a desk and whatever job that's available to me (i.e. I have zero choice). To say I'm not filled with confidence is an understatement but with the amount of socialising and networking I did during the work Christmas party a few days ago, I hope I've registered enough in everyone's mind for them to take notice of this straggler (i.e. returning secondee).

Of course today is also the last day of my contract with the company I've been seconded to for the past year and after this last working day, I'm flying off to Singapore for my close-to-seven-week vacation tonight. I've also managed to book short trips to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur next month so I'm extremely excited about this well-deserved break, which also means that my care factor for work and job insecurity issues is at a very low level. I've also more or less fixed a time with all the people I want to catch up with (not an easy task!) and I look forward to posting my holiday pics here in the coming months.

This month's musical sharing is a live rendition of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen, a number I did during the Christmas party at work (not at my parent firm but the company I was seconded to). I basically shamelessly recommended myself to the musical director of the band and I'm so glad I did it. Although they put me down as the guest singer with only one song that they chose based on their abilities, I left the audience screaming and hungry for another. I know this is a very famous song but I was not familiar with it (it's the wrong era!) and had to learn it from scratch. Fortunately it was a short one (but still it was challenging due to its tempo). Many of my colleagues told me after that they really didn't know I could sing that well and they were very pleasantly surprised. That being said, as a perfectionist, I could have done it better (see if you can pick up the places I got it wrong).

I told the musical director (the one playing the keyboard) that regardless of where I end up working for when their next party comes up, I want in if the band comes together and because my number was so well-received, he said yes. So enjoy my take on this circa 1980 song. Apologies for the noisy environment and the poor audio quality but I hope you can see how much fun I was having on stage. I always tell people the high I get from performing is unlike any other type of high and it just makes me yearn for more. I'll definitely be creating opportunities to do more live singing (and recording) in this upcoming Singapore trip so watch this space.

This is my last post of 2019 and to all my blog readers, have a Merry Christmas and very Happy New Year!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Musical journey (111)

It's the eve of the the start of the last 2019 month and I'm a month into the fifth decade of my life. I'm not sure if mid-life crises are supposed to kick in now but since my life hasn't really seen much highs in the last few years so a low wouldn't be that obvious to me. Hence I don't think my boring life is a good candidate for mid-life crises. Nevertheless, it's not without it's minor ups and downs.

On the work front, it seems the company I'm seconded into will only tell me if I have a position there in the new year in a fortnight i.e. a fortnight late as previously agreed. This leaves me only two weeks before my long trip back home to look for my next work placement should they not have a spot for me. This is quite unfair especially when many people are on holidays during that two-week-before-Christmas period and so getting in contact with them to line up my next position would be difficult. Companies nowadays no longer put its people on the forefront. Sure such matters might be low on their priority list but they fail to understand that this is the number one priority for the workers affected for it is their livelihood! Is it any wonder that in this era where employees are treated like commodities (or sometimes glorified slaves) that they are disloyal and will cheat the company at any available opportunity?

I just hope my parent company has the decency to have a reasonable plan for me and not just put me in a god-awful location which inevitably forces people to opt to be made redundant. That's when they'll use the age-old trick of "I gave you a position but you rejected it so you're not entitled to a redundancy package" so you either quit with nothing or be coerced into relocation. Although that's a realistic scenario as it has happened to people I know, let's just hope I don't get to that stage. I should be getting a whole lot more used to this seeing that as a contractor (i.e. vocational nomad), I've gone through this so many times!

On the health front, I'm finally going to see a doctor regarding the sore/pain at the back/left side of my neck that has plagued me for some months now. I think it's caused by poor sleep posture and recently it's been causing tingling and numbness in my left arm and twitching of my upper left chest muscle. The fact that these symptoms are getting more frequent is what worries me. Maybe something related to my neck is impinging on the nerves and causing all that. Whatever it is, hopefully the GP I'm seeing that has has expertise in neurology can help. This GP also specialises on skin and I'm going to ask him to check out a mole on my left inner knee that I've been concerned with for a long time now. To top off the consultation, I'm going to ask to get my blood taken to test it for cholesterol and diabetes as well as getting a referral for a colonoscopy.

I haven't seen a doctor for a long time and so I'm trying to squeeze in as many things for him to look at in one session. I've also booked an appointment with an osteopath but seeing that osteopathy is somewhat a pseudo-science, I still have the chance to cancel that (expensive) appointment depending on what the GP says. I also need to book a dental appointment for routine cleaning before I leave for my holiday. Wish me luck!

Because I have these work and health issues weighing me down, the fact that I'll be embarking on my 7-week break in less than a month's time has not registered in my mind yet to make me all excited. I've noted down discrete things for my itinerary but have yet to string them together to form anything logical or concrete and I know I have to do that soon. It'll all become more real when I start counting down to my flight.

While I go sort all that out, here's this month's musical sharing. I wrote in my last post of the unhealthy state of mind I was in twenty years ago when I liked to wallow in my sadness. During those years, I would purposely seek triggers to activate those depressing emotions e.g. watch sad movies or look at happy couples in love.

The song I'm posting this month was written on one of those nights when I walked around the city looking for triggers while lamenting how alone I was and how much I needed a relationship and love. Couples holding hands were something I was extremely envious of at that time and so the song centered around my empty hands and how they represented the excruciating loneliness I was going through. Though painful, I do somewhat cherish these very valid feelings as I know I'll never experience them again even if I were to become single and so songs like these serve to preserve these distant memories.


词  /  曲 : 锦泉

喧哗的街  人群中  拖著走
惺忪的眼  穿梭熙攘的霓虹
石灰森林  月光被锁在外头
这样的夜  早已习惯了寂寞

脑海的鱼  不知往  哪里游
选择了  自己想要的痛

空的双手  要空多久
这份爱  世人怎么看不懂
这一滴泪  今夜又為谁而流

空的双手  要空多久
这惶恐  只有自己能承受
我很疲惫  不想再走

空荡的街  冷风吹得好暖和
静静的夜  月光照亮了自我
这样也好  至少多了个朋友
第一次感到  如此地自由


Dragging myself through people along these noisy streets
Snaking through bustling neon lights with blurred vision
The concrete jungle locking out the moonlight
I have long been used to such lonely nights

My thoughts unsure of where to run to
Where have the shadows in my heart hidden themselves
Are they lost like myself
Choosing the pain we have always wanted

How long must my pair of empty hands remain so
They yearn to feel the gentleness of another
Why can't the world understand this love
Who do I drop this tear for tonight

How long must my pair of empty hands remain so
They are forever struggling to be freed from loneliness and melancholy
Only I can withstand this terror
But still I am getting tired and do not wish to walk any longer

Cold winds blow so warmly on these empty streets
Moonlight illuminating myself this quiet night
It is not all bad, at least now I have a new friend
And never have I felt this free

Friday, November 1, 2019

20 years of independence

If you consider someone becoming truly independent only at the age of 21, then 20 years would have passed since I attained independence. In other words, happy 41st birthday to myself!

If you've seen me two decades ago, you wouldn't have recognised me as I was both extremely maladjusted emotionally and utterly insecure with my own appearance. The shoulder length hair and pudgy undefined body didn't help a single bit either!

I was supposed to be at my most active and free at that age but was constantly down instead and cried very often. Here's a song (just the lyrics as there's still a separate musical post later this month) I wrote for my 21st birthday to let you have a taste of my state of mind back then.


独白: 今天是我的生日, 第二十一个生日
        是什么样的一个日子, 我只能假装不知

被蜡烫红的手, 我也不哭

枯坐在角落, 闭眼想像

我只要一个人, 就那么一个人

我好想把它吹灭, 再许一个愿


[Birthday Party]

Voiceover: Today is my birthday, my twenty first
                What sort of day will it be, I can only pretend not to know

Using loneliness as decoration for my room
Letting it permeate this boring space
Then waiting quietly for the surprise that will never come
I light a candle helplessly
My hand burnt by wax yet not flinching
Because the pain has numbed my senses

This bustling birthday party
One with only love songs on the radio
Sitting idly in a corner with eyes closed
Imagining how this birthday should be

This bustling birthday party
Sadness is the only present
I only want one person, that one person
To share every moment of my life

This bustling birthday party
Just like the only radiance from the candle's flame
I really want to blow it out and make a wish
But I have waited for too long

It has become a pool of wax
Solidified within my palms

I was really quite emo huh. The worst thing is I liked to wallow in sadness which was very unhealthy.

Things started looking better when I started looking better after hitting the gym, something which I've written about on this blog before. The new-found confidence (albeit superficially obtained from validation from others - hey whatever does the trick right?) transformed me into a camera-loving part-time model with 40 photo shoots under my belt starting from 2007 (here are the shots: 1 2 3 4).

Though I've grown more mature and much surer of myself over the years, my body has not grown too much bigger. I know aging accelerates after 40 so I don't expect myself to continue being a model much longer but I'm very happy with what I've done so far. See for yourself how I've changed since my modelling "career" started!

Hope I can continue to add to the montage year after year and remain as healthy as ever. Happy birthday to me!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Musical journey (110)

It's 21st October 2019 i.e. exactly 7 years have passed since my bestie Phobee had her wedding and Ision and I were lucky enough to be able to join in the celebration back then. It wasn't a traditional banquet but a retro-themed fun and casual night of mingling at a seaside restaurant. I was involved right from the morning's "gate-crashing" which I've written briefly about here.

I've reproduced the wedding invitation and created a collage as well. They really bring back fond memories of that day. All of the people in the pictures (bar one) have since been married (most with kids), which re-iterates to us how much time has passed. By the way, big congrats to Eric's new-born girl!

I wrote some lyrics for the wedding but it didn't have a tune back then so I couldn't sing it that night itself (I did share the words in this post). I've since completed the composition (with some lyrics-adjustment for better flow) and have been waiting for an opportunity to give her the finished song and share it with the world. I think their 7th wedding anniversary is the best time to do just that.

Though they recently lost the companionship of their beloved dog Sushi, Phoebee, Ivan and their boy Evan remained strong. I hope this song, written from the deepest and most sincere part of my heart can add to that strength and keep this picture-perfect family forever blessed.

We'll catch up for sure during my trip home this coming Christmas to Chinese New Year period. I SO look forward to that and meeting Evan for the first time as wellboy, does he grow up fast! But for now, a simple wish from me would have to do. Here's to many more 7 years bestie, I love you so much.

PS: Pardon the gay wedding footage used in the music clip. This is coming from me after all! 😊


词  /  曲 : 锦泉

有了爱    世界才会变得更完美
用心爱    明天不再渺茫如一片漆黑
唯有爱    能涌上来    让我们往前推
没有爱    岂能活下来



他会用尽一生     不管有多苦


来自我内心最真    最深处

因为爱    你不再掉下一滴眼泪
你的爱    那最纯的爱





换他来爱你    每一步


Only with love, the world can be perfect
Only through loving with all your heart can we rid tomorrow of the darkness of uncertainty
Love is the only thing that can give us the surge of energy to keep us pushing ahead
Without love, we would not survive and it does not matter even if you had everything

The road ahead of you though bumpy, you will no longer be lonely
He will use all of his life through whatever pain and hardship to fill every single second of your life with bliss
Let the young shoots of love grow into a tree under your care
My blessing for you today comes from the most sincere depths of my heart

Because of love, you no longer weep
And that love so pure has finally found the rightful arms to rest in

I have worried and waited over countless seasons for this scene
Tonight, that smile on your face that you cannot hide gives me contentment that I have never experienced before
The love you have given has always been unreserved
But after tonight for the rest of your journey, let him love you every step of the way

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Musical journey (109)

How time flies and here we are fast entering the last quarter of the year. Something big happened two days ago and it's a fast-developing situation but I can't really speak about it publicly yet. Although it's something not directly-connected with me, it's nonetheless impactful to someone who's very important to me. I'll say something about it once it's official. Other than that, nothing much else has happened in my life for the past month.

On the work front, there was a recent major development that created a great deal of uncertainty but as a contractor, I'm used to seeing these events (sell-offs, mergers and acquisitions, restructuring, retrenchment, etc.) and years of living it tough have made me rather resilient to the consequences from business decisions necessitated by shifting economic climates. There's also an office relocation (no more lockers and hot-desking finally!!!) and a two-day offsite team-building event next month to spice things up further.

Despite the uncertainties, there's still plenty of work to be done and I remain steady on my path plodding along, chipping away at the backlog that's growing by the day due to a hiring freeze, never stopping the countdown to my year-end trip back home. As my colleagues continue to take holidays during this period, my ability to stay focussed at work diminishes slowly. There's only a finite amount of time one can go without a break from work no matter how strong one is and I'm glad I don't have to put up with that much longer. By the time I take that break, I'd have gone without one for more than three years!

Now let's move on to this month's musical offering, which is another cover of one of 薛之謙's hits (my first cover of his is here). This is a singer/song-writer from China. Like I've mentioned in my previous post, his compositions, though still Mandarin pop, do sound a little different from that of others and that's why I'll keep following his music though I'm not sure how popular he is outside of his country. This time, I'm covering "怪咖" which is a Chinese slang word that loosely translates to "weirdo" or "freak", and the MTV depicts that quite well.

Stay tuned for my musical post next month as it'll be a very special one!

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Nude abandonment (part 3)

It's time for more of my nudeness again and this post features the concluding part of my "Nude Abandonment" series (all posts are here: 1 2 3). If you want to see more of me uncensored with snaps from shoots not posted on my blog before, leave a comment and I'll let you know the details of my photo book packed with full-frontals.

I hope laziness doesn't get the better of me so you won't need to wait for another year to benefit from my need to exhibit!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Nude abandonment (part 2)

If you're still hungry for more after the first part of my "Nude Abandonment" series (entire series is here: 1 2 3), here's the next installment. Again, my sincere apologies for the eyesores emblazoned on my skin, it's beyond my control!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Nude abandonment (part 1)

I can't believe the last time I posted a shoot series was more than a year ago (here) at the start of winter 2018! I've been so lax in my duties to share my pride and joy with you a.k.a. my glorious nudeness. The issue of a lack of flesh on my blog is going to be alleviated this month so you guys can stop whingeing, if anyone's even looking at my blog...

This series was shot in Singapore at an abandoned army barracks (in Kranji if you must know). I've been told it's been torn down so you won't be able to find it now. The obvious advantage of shooting at abandoned places is the ability to go nude without a care. That's why photographers and models alike flock to these locations to explore their artistic and exhibitionistic sides.

Aptly titled "Nude Abandonment", this series offers tantalising shots of me in various stages of undress. Sadly you have to use your imagination to get past the ugly orange circles and the watermarks that the photographer insists on using. I hate them so much but there's no other way of censorship allowed by the photographer!

If you want to see the uncensored shots (albeit still with the watermarks), you can inquire about my photo book. I have re-edited a new version since that first release with just nudes and full-frontals. Just ask me for details by leaving a comment! If not, you can follow my blog to see more from this series (all posts are here: 1 2 3). And now feast!

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Musical journey (108)

It's the last day of winter and hopefully it's also the last day of my procrastination in this tax season to file and reluctantly hand over my hard-earned money to the government. It's so unfair that the everyday workers pay much more tax than the large corporations but I guess this is one of the age-old well-accepted by-products of capitalism. To make things worse, with the recent acquisition of a major rival, my company has reported never-before-seen profits but trickle-down economics will ensure I see none of that money. Sad but a fact of life. The only thing I hope that will happen out of this is at least some enhanced job security and that the axe of redundancy that's been swinging inches above me for so long can temporarily be removed.

Well at least I have the warmer weather and the chance to show more flesh in public to look forward to! I hope come next week when I start gaming on a new release, I'll not get too distracted from the continuation of my search for hang-out buddies (preferably at nude beaches)! By the way that search is really not going too well as friend-making needs to be organic. My previous attempts at trying to steer people perhaps only keen on hooking up with me towards more of going out on a social basis just seemed a tad artificial or even coerced. Maybe I should go crazy at next year's Midsumma Carnival and join all the social groups and hope that at least one will result in the successful revival of my once-glorious social life (when I was living in Sydney).

Speaking about Midsumma, there's talk that the company I'm seconded to right now might march in the parade with the recent creation of its Australian PRIDE Chapter. This is quite exciting as I’m now officially part of the Chapter Committee (just a mere location representative though). Also on the work front, I told one colleague who has been trying hard to train me as part of a handover of his role (before our boss gives the endorsement) that come October/November, I'll be inquiring about contract-extension and if there's no extension, all his training efforts would be wasted and he'd have to start again which is something he wouldn't have time to do. Although I know that discussion will not amount to anything, I still hope something happens in my favour somehow. That being said, it's not the end of the world if my secondment ends as there's currently plenty of work back at my home company.

When work stress gets to me, one of the hideouts I go to for a respite is the warm shelter of music-writing as it never fails to pick and perk me up. Sometimes I write new material in various genres and languages and at other times I inject new life to old stuff. With this variety, fatigue out of repetitiveness never creeps into this creative process. This month's musical journey features old fictional lyrics (posted here more than 9[!] years ago) now added with a new tune, one which has several extremely high notes. I know a lot of you will think that I didn't do those notes well (I did them in my real voice, not falsetto so I think it's a great effort!) but like I always say, these clips are really the equivalent of quick scribbles in a jotter and so are never meant to be perfect. Instead, they are simply done to freeze my ideas and thoughts at that moment in time into a neat and convenient little package to be listened to over and over again and sometimes improved upon.

Songs that don't originate from true stories are always less meaningful to me but writing them is a perfect way to sharpen my skills and the more I write the better I get. This month's musical sharing is a composition in this category so enjoy!

[I Don't Wanna Cry]

词  /  曲 : 锦泉

I don't wanna cry

I don't wanna cry, I know I've tried

I don't wanna cry

I don't wanna cry, please say goodbye


I don't wanna cry, just tell me why

I don't wanna cry, I don't wanna lie

[I Don't Wanna Cry]

I don't wanna cry
The feelings are all gone
Please stay outside the door
I've failed myself
Letting you near is the harm I've caused myself
I say, serve me right

I don't wanna cry
I know I've tried
The dark night and tears always have to come together
Only because you've long seeped into my veins

I don't wanna cry
The fatigue and dependence that's stuck on me
I can't shrug it off
I shouldn't have
Letting you stay is the torture I've given myself
Please, not again

I don't wanna cry
Please say goodbye
Let this be the chance for you to repay your debts
Why do you still refuse to leave?

Why do you refuse to leave?

I don't wanna cry
Just tell me why
Time and tears are always in a race
Trapped by thoughts of you
I'm knee-deep in a sea of fire

I don't wanna cry
I don't wanna lie
If I could cry you out of my heart
I would continue to endure in tears

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Musical journey (107)

Winter is slowly moving along and I'm also plodding along at the same steady pace with no great ups and downs, just the way I like it. I've recently put up my hand to be the Communications Lead for the committee of the first Australian PRIDE Chapter where I work and hopefully I'll get confirmed soon as the response thus far has been lukewarm and they need as much help as they can get. It's such a large multinational company and I'm really surprised the Chapter has only been formed recently so there's much to do in that space. As a contractor, I'm always looking for ways to embed myself deeper into the places I've been seconded to for increased job security. Moreover, "PRIDE" or "People for the Respect, Inclusion, and Diversity of Employees" is an initiative I believe in so why not?

On the non-work front, I've started planning for my year-end break by contacting some friends and asking if they would like to go on short trips to nearby cities with me. The places I'm currently considering are Penang, Bangkok, Seoul and Taipei. Such things need a great deal of time to finalise and although I still have about five months till the start of my seven-week vacation, time will fly past for sure and before you know it, it'll be all too late so I need to try harder. On the home front, Ision will be back at work in less than a week's time when his long break comes to an end. I must say having him around in the house all the time feels good but of course he'll say he needs his peace and quiet and hates that I'm around all the time. But I know my presence gives him comfort too, as much as he would like to deny that.

Lately I've had people contact me on dating sites (where I put down my blog's address) saying that they really like my blog. These are strangers who tell me they've been following my blog for years which means they know lots about me while I know next to nothing about them. I guess I shouldn't feel weird because this is what blogging is all about right? But having someone contact you like that still feels a little creepy and the fact that it's nice at the same time just makes me a little conflicted inside that's all. Whenever I receive such messages, I always ask them to also listen to my music instead of just looking at the pictures as my compositions, covers and live singing videos are perhaps the more important part of my blog.

Talking about my music, this post contains my second last topless KTV clip of this series (previous installments are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9). I hope you're not sick of seeing me sing topless in skimpy shorts yet as I intend to make and post even more. This is not only because I love performing and singing, I believe it's important to show people your true self as social media posts (pictures especially) become increasingly staged and fake. Videos are much more honest and down-to-earth and I think that's what the online world needs more of now.

This month's clip features Alanis Morissette's "Uninvited" which is part of the soundtrack to the movie "City of Angels". By now you can probably tell that I really like singing in the higher register and that's not only because I get praised for my falsetto, it also takes less effort. I like the parts of "Uninvited" where there's minimal accompaniment as that allows the maximum showcasing of my voice, which is something I'm super proud of. I can't wait to film my next series which will show off something else I'm really proud of as well—a much leaner and tighter bod than what you see below!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

11 Oz years (part 4) / Musical journey (106)

My past 11 years in Australia have shaped my views on investment and work, had influence on my health, seen me being same-sex married while copping same-sex racism at the same time, and made me miss home so much more. The last bit about missing home when it was still raw and fresh culminated in a song posted here where I wrote:

On the night of my departure as I went past the customs gate with the image of my family and friends starting to get smaller and smaller behind me, I was overwhelmed by a deluge of emotions. I continued to push on despite these hurdles in my heart clouding my sense of direction…

I can still remember those emotions as if that night at the airport occurred yesterday even though much has happened since then, which also explains why there hasn't been a tune to those lyrics until recently (slight modifications were made to make it flow better). In this last post of my "11 Oz years" series (the entire series is here: 1 2 3 4), the complete song can finally be unveiled. The clip shows what I would have seen through the plane's window as it took off with that tiny red dot I called home for 30 years gradually becoming even tinier.

11 years are a significant milestone but I'm here for the long haul (especially since Singapore is not going to make any progress on gay rights anytime soon which was made painfully obvious recently in this article). Hence I have a few more 11 years to make the best of, and I hope they will all be healthy and happy.


词  /  曲 : 锦泉

眼眶热了, 红了, 湿了


一页页的回忆, 翻阅我脑海里
一年年的成长, 有你的呵护维系

没你的日子里, 我会照顾我自己
没我的日子里, 请不要垂头丧气
在遥远的土地, 我会珍藏那快乐回忆

一页页的回忆, 翻阅我脑海里
一年年的成长, 有你的呵护维系

虽然是不忍心, 却是不得已
我要让你知道, 我真的很爱你

[No Choice]

My eyes are getting warm, getting red and getting wet
I cannot believe tears actually fell
Where is the embrace I just held in my arms?
My heart is where I preserve your love

Why are my legs getting heavier as I walk?
As I continue to look forward
This is the choice that I have made by myself
I just cannot believe my wish actually came true

Pages after pages of memories flipping in my head
Year after year growing up in your tender care

I will take good care of myself when you are not with me
Please do not be dejected when I am not with you
On faraway soil I will cherish those happy memories

Although I cannot bear to do this, I have no other choice
I really want you to know that I love you very much

Sunday, June 23, 2019

11 Oz years (part 3)

Yesterday I would have lived in Australia for exactly 11 years and now it's time for the next post in this series celebrating this anniversary (the entire series is here: 1 2 3 4).


I moved to Australia after having only been in my first real post-graduation job for a few years (the one-and-a-half-year American training stint before that didn't count). This means that much of my work skills, both hard and soft, were learnt in Australia. Perhaps the biggest thing I've "mastered" after these 11 years is the knowledge that hard work doesn't translate to success in the workplace and sometimes it's not even required. What you need to do is to work smart and not hard.

Work is a never-ending process and so there's always more work to be done but a smart worker knows the exact things to tick off in the work list to get ahead and wastes no time by doing the bare minimum in each area in order to rise up. These people tend to be climbing the so-called "management ladder" and leaves the people on the "technical ladder" to do the real work. They then use the output of the workers below them to make all the major decisions. In return, they get paid more and are in a position to access even higher positions, all while standing on a not-so-strong base.

A clever worker also knows that it's who you know rather than what you know that matters. Once these "geniuses" identify their targets, they hone in and walk in their circles, both in and out of the office. Opportunities get given over lunch room conversations and social gatherings and a lot of times, these people move into roles that you don't even know existed. It's especially helpful knowing the right people in the management ranks so that you can help them progress their initiatives and in the process allow them to know your abilities and become "indebted" to you. In that way, they're more likely to offer you the next juicy promotion because you've robbed everyone else of valuable face time with the managers.

You might be wondering since I know all this, why am I still stuck as a worker bee in the lower rungs of the company? This is all because I'm an introvert and society unfairly favours extroverts and conveniently ignores qualities introverts bring to the table. In an ideal world, both personalities should be treated equally but the real world is far from ideal. This results in the two "management/extrovert" and "technical/introvert" silos we see in almost all workplaces. This is made worse when extrovert bosses selectively groom their fellow kind as they're deemed better management material and it becomes a vicious cycle. It's impossible for an introvert to fake being the opposite just to compete because it's extremely taxing to keep up a false persona, believe me I've tried. There's only one thing you can do and that's to accept that life is unfair and resign to the fact that you're destined to be a drone ripe for exploitation by other people eager to climb above you. I have to emphasise though that I don't think I'm any less capable or valuable as an introvert which is another thing these 11 years have taught me.

11 years working in a hydrocarbon projects-based consultancy firm has planted me in permanent crisis mode as work is always stuck in an unstable situation, sensitively subjected to oil prices and world events. My recent attempts at trying to entrench myself deeper into where I'm currently working at by doing my job really well haven't been successful. This is especially demoralising when I've been told I'm doing a good job by the person whose role I'm trying to get which he's more than glad to offload as he's having too much on his plate. I still have some time under my existing contract to continue pursuing this endeavour but I'm beginning to chase diminishing returns so my internal "give-up" mechanism is slowly kicking in.

If I knew 11 years ago how unstable it would be to stay in a consultancy firm post-Australian mining boom, I'd have chosen the other more stable job I was given at an operator company then (i.e. not a consultancy-type organisation), a job that I rejected as it didn't pay as well. Silly stupid me! I absolutely hate regrets and sadly I'd have to live with that big one. Fortunately I have plans in place to get out of this depressing rat race before I lose all energy required to do the things I like (refer to the first post in this series under "House-hunting"). I'll not be in the same situation at the end of the next 11 years, that much I know for sure.


My last full-body health check was done before I moved to Australia which means I'm in the dark with regards to my health condition for at least 11 years now! It was a blood test at that time which picked up the issue of high cholesterol which was later reversed with a drastic change in diet over half a year. That was also the time when I had my last and only colonoscopy which turned up zilch. I really need to get my next one done especially when the cancer gene is in my family (my father died of bowel cancer). I should also start getting annual health checks. When you feel healthy and nothing's wrong on the surface, you get lulled into a sense of security which might even equip you with a sense of invulnerability. That is till you get a health scare which is exactly what happened recently.

As you know I'm on PrEP and one of the possible side effects is a loss in kidney function. In my last three-monthly checkup as part of my PrEP prescription requirement, my kidney function eGFR test came back with a result of 53mL/min/1.73m² which was below the minimum of 60 for the doctor to be able to continue prescribing PrEP to me. Although I was told this was only an approximation calculated based on some formula and not a definitive indication of kidney health plus the fact that I was likely dehydrated on that day, I was still on edge over the period of time waiting for the results of a retest. For this second test, I made sure I wasn't dehydrated and sure enough it went back above that minimum number, to 63.

Like what many would do in my situation, I went online and Doctor Google revealed that "53" fell within "stage 3a" which is mild to moderate kidney failure! That gave me quite a scare initially but since my index was 69 when I started taking PrEP and it has fluctuated in the 60 to 70 range since April 2017, I really shouldn't be that worried and this was what my doctor (the real one) said too. Moreover eGFR is based on how much creatinine is in your system with creatinine being mainly produced by muscles and I have a much higher muscular mass than average people. My doctor told me that eGFR tests for people with little muscles sometimes can give a false indication that their kidneys are healthy. Still, years of snacking on high-sodium tidbits, lazing out on processed food and not drinking enough water must have had some adverse effects on my kidneys. I know I should cut down on snacking but bad habits die really hard and it should be fine if I do everything in moderation right?

The Australian diet consists of more meat so that mustn't be helping either ever since I've moved here. That being said, I eat mainly chicken (white meat) instead of beef or lamb (red meat) although pork is my favourite which I believe is red. Luckily I don't smoke and don't indulge in alcohol like many Aussies and I also cut down on carbs and sugar (thank goodness I don't have a sweet tooth). As a Chinese person, it's excruciating to remove white rice from your daily diet but I've learnt to live without it over the past many years. I'm currently trying to reduce my intake of artificial sweeteners too as a safeguard even though the jury is theoretically still out on the harmful effects of aspartame. Finally, I not only disallow work stress to get to me as I'm not those ambitious kind wanting to rise up fast (as I've painfully written above), I do keep to a strict exercise regimen which is maintained even when I'm not feeling well. All this combined must at least count towards something right?

Even if these 11 years of hard labour in the gym don't amount to a clean bill of health, at least I feel happy when I look at myself in the mirror (which partly explains the countless naked selfies). At the end of the day, I think it's this positive state of mind that's crucial for one to stay healthy. Tell me honestly, won't you feel good too if you see this in the mirror? 😉

And this concludes the third installment of this series. I'll see you soon for the last one.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

11 Oz years (part 2)

This is the second part of the series highlighting how my last 11 years living in Australia went and how they have impacted me (it will officially be 11 years in 6 days). The entire series is here: 1 2 3 4.

Husband & Husband

Ision and I met online on a dating site called Fridae back in 2007 when I was still living in Singapore. The relationship underwent a long-distance phase for a year before I decided to move to Australia. On the eve of our 3rd anniversary, we made the relationship open which was really the only sensible thing to do. Looking back, I'm very glad we could progress our relationship in that logical and mature way i.e. what we think is the only way to ensure its longevity.

In 2013, we got into a civil union under UK law in the consulate (Ision has a UK passport) and you can read more about that here. Although we've been in an Australian defacto relationship a few years before that, the civil union took it a step further albeit being more of a symbolic thing back then. When UK allowed consulates to convert civil unions to full marriages when they legalised same-sex marriages in 2014, on our 8th anniversary, we did just that which involved nothing more than signing on a piece of paper and paying a fee. The marriage was sadly still not legal once we stepped out of the consulate.

A year later in 2016, we held our wedding reception in Singapore where we only invited family and a small group of close friends. It was unfortunate that my in-laws couldn't make it but at least they came for the civil union ceremony. I also wrote a song for Ision and sang it during our wedding. I posted a 7-part series documenting that special day and you can find it here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7. The push for same-sex marriage in Australia started to grow stronger and two years ago, it was finally made legal and that significant event was posted here. There was nothing we needed to do as our UK marriage was automatically recognised in Australia. And last month Ision and I celebrated our 12th anniversary and now we're all caught up.

That's our relationship in a nutshell which changed quite a bit over the last 11 years. Like all married couples past a certain number of years, we've become more like family and it's that familiarity and unwavering companionship that we find really comforting and crucial to sustain. We can always find someone else better in some departments but you can't easily replicate that warm quality of having someone you've loved for more than a decade who will accept you for all your flaws and idiosyncrasies. So why risk what you have now and step into the risky unknown unless of course you're really unhappy in your relationship which is definitely not the case here.

Since our marriage under UK law, I've started using the word "husband" in daily conversations even at work. It was awkward at the start and I always had to change to "partner" when I began to feel uneasy. Like all things, practice makes perfect and I can say I'm now 95% comfortable using this term. I know I'll get to 100% eventually but it's becoming more of a non-issue nowadays anyway. I'm Ision's husband and Ision is my husband and we'll sail through life that way for the next 11 years and beyond.


Throughout my 11 years, the biggest things I have missed are the 3 F's - food, family and friends. Fortunately my two-year work stint in Papua New Guinea meant the fly-in/fly-out arrangement gave me four-week breaks every two months and hence the chance to go back home more often. When that was over and work became less secure, I no longer had the chance to visit home as and when I wanted. Fast forward three years and my missing of those 3 F's is becoming increasingly hard to bear.

Just when I thought work was becoming more stable which was also the time when my 10-year long service leave became available for use, I booked my tickets for a long homecoming trip and made lots of plans in anticipation. Sadly I had to cancel the trip because of a new work position that I've taken up which you can read more about here. I was entitled to a limited refund and it was all thanks to my perseverance in following up with Jetstar that I got it back and then some. You see, they made a mistake and gave me a full refund which is all the sweeter as my company has already reimbursed me in full for the cancellation!

I was determined to realise those thwarted plans and the only way I could do it whilst on secondment is to do it when my recently-extended work contract ends in December this year. Although there's still a chance that they'll take me on further, I'll only know more towards the end of the year. As I couldn't wait that long, I had to draw a line in the sand and prioritise my homecoming over work for it to really happen. With that determination, I've bought my tickets to have that holiday I was deprived of earlier this year, albeit a slightly shorter one (still quite significant at almost 7 weeks though). This will be my first time flying with Scoot and here's my itinerary:

So mark your calendars and be prepared for I'll be in Singapore on Christmas Day till the last day of the 15-day Lunar New Year period which means I'll definitely have enough time to do what I originally set out to do plus squeeze in a few more items that I've just added to the list, as follows:

  • Nocturnal food activities e.g. going for supper with friends in an attempt to cross off all the eating places listed here, visiting as many night markets as possible, an outdoor durian-gorging fest, etc. Mmmm... durian...
  • Video shoot with a photographer friend for one or more of my compositions. We've talked about it only briefly but we'll now need to seriously plan for it. This is very exciting as I've ALWAYS wanted my own music videos.
  • Visiting Jewel at Changi Airport. I've seen so many friends posting on Facebook about their experience there and I need to see it for myself. I plan to go there with my mum i.e. my partner-in-crime of choice.
  • Explore the numerous farmer's markets that have sprouted over the years using this as my reference.
  • Do my next series of topless karaoke (the previous series can be found here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8).
  • Going through the places featured on this mouth-watering site and pick at random a few places to try out every day.

As you can see, a lot of activities centre around food and so I need to stick to my gym routine ever-so-strictly. To be honest, I don't even mind getting a little fat from this trip as my cravings for real Singapore food (and kopi-c!) is at the point of tearing me apart.

I'm glad Singapore has become more interesting over these 11 years living away from home which gives me even less excuse to not visit more frequently. The most important reason however is still to see my mum as she's getting older and frailer. Us overseas children need to grab every opportunity to visit our parents while we still can and nothing else should really matter, and I can finally do that in 6 months' time.

So what are the other themes I'll be covering in the third post of my "11 Oz years" series? You'd have to wait for a week more to find out.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

11 Oz years (part 1)

In 13 days, I would have survived 11 full years Down Under. A lot has happened in these life-changing years and I must have known that would be the case back in 2008 and that must have been why I started this blog to document this new life. Now that so many years have passed, I'm not sure if I can still call this "The Next Phase" but I guess since I'll always remain an outsider to some degree and not feel 100% home regardless of how long I've been here, that name will stay that way. The next few posts (the entire series is here: 1 2 3 4) are not meant to be a detailed summary but a means to convey my current state of mind, which is a direct result of these 11 Oz years. Coincidentally, the themes all begin with the letter "H".


Even after being in Australia for more than a decade, I still don't identify with a lot of Australian practices e.g. sports obsession and beer-drinking, just to name a few. Moving from a country where your race forms the majority coupled with government policies favouring your race to one totally opposite did take some getting used to. One major thing I needed to get used to is racism, which is simply hate borne out of irrational ignorance.

When I was living in Sydney, I'd get screamed at on the streets and on public transport. Although that hasn't happened to me (yet) in Melbourne (though I've seen it happen to others), in both cities, I experienced inferior service standard because of my race from some people who make it really obvious to treat white folks better right in my face. Over these 11 years living in Australia, I also sometimes felt slightly "off" at work where you kind of knew you didn't get that job or promotion  you wanted because of your race but could never ever prove it.

Perhaps the bulk of racist episodes nowadays come from the online world which is a realm where hate-filled people who can't bring their ideas to the mainstream find it so easy to broadcast their venomous words. Personally, one of the best things that came from online racism is my feature on DNA magazine (you can find out more about that experience here and read the DNA feature here). Racism targetted at me is like a workout for my skin for it trains it to be thicker and now I can say I'm bullet-proof to racism, online or otherwise. For new migrants though, it's a seriously difficult thing to grapple with and might even break or worse still turn them violent. Imagine you've just arrived and trying hard to assimilate by getting online and encounter this:

By the way, the above are but a handful of online hate I've received (on "Grindr", "Gaydar" and "Scruff" from top to bottom). Nowadays I always report profiles that say "no Asians" just to make myself feel better even though I know this achieves nothing. I guess this is my feeble attempt to "fight back" knowing that you can't really fight effectively from a minority position. You know, I really should write a song with all that I've copped these 11 years and turn all this negativity into something positive. So watch this space, a new composition will be penned I promise you!

In this increasingly polarised world where immigration policies get corrupted by racism, laws of the land get applied unfairly along racial lines, and opportunities are not given equally to all, we should at least do what we can within our power to stop race-based hate. If you have these thoughts, just keep them to yourself and not be overt about it. Tell people what you like instead of what you hate. Live and let live and the anger you could potentially avoid is going to do wonders on your life expectancy.


As you know I'm very frugal in my ways and many people have wondered why I've not bought any properties if money matters that much to me as they are a shoo-in in the investment world. My friends feel even stranger seeing I could easily afford the purchase. To be honest, I think it's fear and being too comfortable where I'm currently at. I'm also a very risk-averse person and someone who hates regretting so I don't like to make big decisions. The last one I did was to move to Australia but that didn't cause any regret (so far). Even though housing prices have dropped recently, they are still way overpriced because the housing boom before the drop have pushed prices to sky-high levels. This just means there should always be an ever-growing urgency pressing me to buy right? Surely there's no more reason for any further inaction after having delayed this for much of these 11 years right?

I currently have the majority of my cash stashed in a 5-year term deposit which was something I did to delay the eventuality of buying. I know I know, you must all be thinking what a fool I am but I shall remain foolish not much longer because I've made up my mind that 6 months before the term deposit matures in September 2022, I'd start my property research. Knowing me, I'll go super in-depth to make sure I minimise the chances of any regret. The resistance to buy all these years is also largely due to the inevitable need for this arduous research.

I've been told the best property-type to buy would be houses as they come with land and they must have at least three bedrooms to make rental income substantial. Another major factor in the research would be location and so "growth areas" need to be picked. As I don't drive, the location needs to not be too far from the metro area and accessible by public transport so that I can go and inspect it now and again. This imposes a size limit on the houses I can buy. I know I'd be like a helicopter parent always hovering above my babies. I know I wouldn't be able to help it! I'm not sure if my OCD character is conducive for any form of investment but it's sure not helping.

My plan is to buy two houses outright and rent them out. With the no-mortgage passive income, I'll then transition into part-time engineering work by age 45 and then fully retire by 50. From my friend's experience, although rental income from his two houses after all costs are deducted is much lower than what I expected, it's still enough for me not to work because I'm such a spendthrift. I just hope the recent interest rate cut and the future planned cuts all fail to stem property prices from continuing to drop. With any luck, the market would have cooled to absolute zero by the time I swoop in for the kill. We can always hope.

I'll be talking about two other topics in the second post of this series which will shed more light on how these 11 Oz years have shaped my life, so watch out for it.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Musical journey (105)

I've finally had my first visit to an offshore oil and gas platform in the Bass Strait this month to do some work. It was a really nice experience as people are friendly and it's all very casual when you're not in the processing plant (people were in slippers even when at work!). There was a lot of food and drinks provided (there was a fully-stocked salad bar and canned drinks available round the clock, all free) and so if people weren't careful, they could seriously get so fat. The steak I had for dinner was really tough though but I was super impressed with the kitchen still.

There was also a reasonable gym which I can get most of my routine done. It was too bad I failed to get up on time before work for cardio as phones were not allowed and with no alarm clock, I had to rely on my tablet which was not set up properly so it failed to ring. Worse still, no phone also meant no pictures to post here. It also felt weird that my bedroom was separated from the plant by just one door and this didn't make me feel very safe. The bedroom was small but I don't mind it especially when there's no room mate sharing it with me sleeping on the top bunk (unless he is hot of course)!

I was told the platform I went to is one of the newest and so is not a true representation of what it's really like offshore. As part of my job, I have a chance to visit all platforms so perhaps I'll get to one that's not so good and I'll know for certain. It can't seriously be worse than what I experienced in Papua New Guinea! All in all, the one-day-one-night visit was fun, especially when walking outside, you get to see the open sea and it was fabulous during sunset.

The only downside is the travelling time. It takes close to 6 hours to get there (4 hours from the city to the heliport, about an hour waiting and preparing for the helicopter ride, and 30 to 45 minute flight time). I also got bumped off my scheduled flight as engineers are given the lowest priority in terms of flight allocation. Fortunately travelling time is billable for contractors and so are all travelling expenses which is great as I always have to stay one night in a Sale hotel in order to catch the first morning flight. I should really go offshore more often not least because my boss had just asked me to go soon again. So it looks like I'm off to another platform in maybe a fortnight's time.

Other than my first trip offshore, nothing else more interesting happened since my last post and so let's now move on to this month's musical journey which is another episode of my topless KTV series (previous clips are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8). This month's cover is A*Mei's 好胆你就来 (loosely translates to "Bold for Your Love"), one of my favourite Hokkien songs.

You have to pardon the wrong pronunciation and a few odd notes being out of tune as you can get carried away singing the songs you love. However that's not the worst thing in that clip. The biggest thing wrong is how undefined and flabby I look which is nothing like how I am right now. I can't wait to start a new series to show you how much leaner I am, all thanks to my recent much-stricter low-carb diet. Of course good genes help a great deal too. Now I only need to find even shorter shorts to show off more skin! Any ideas where I can find them? 😊

Monday, April 29, 2019

Musical journey (104)

The Easter holidays are over and it's back to work and my manager just told me that I have to go offshore in the next week or so. However there's a training I need to attend next week and a pre-organised PrEP appointment the week after. Therefore I have to let him know I'll get offshore in the second half of the third week of May which I think should be fine. When I interviewed for this role, I was told I was supposed to be offshore twice a month and I have yet to visit any platform since I started almost five months ago so I think that's long overdue. Well work is work and at least I get to experience something new so it can't be that bad. Hopefully it's not too much colder than in the city as autumn is truly underway now.

Work aside, I'm trying to build up my social circle with people who drive and like to travel out of the city for some fresh air and to see different things in the weekends. I'm a home-body but I think I'm really spending too much time at home lately getting bored and having "I-shouldn't-waste-the-weekend" and "I-shouldn't-deprive-myself-of-new-experiences" thoughts. I know Ision would be much happier than me when I get out more so he can arrange "sessions" at home or at least get some "peace and quiet" which is something he constantly harps on about not getting enough of. I've been chatting to three different people so far but nothing real has happened yet. Actually, one person just dropped off the list as he seems unstable. So you see, this making-friends-out-of-nowhere non-organic approach isn't going to be easy so I'm going into this with zero expectations.

On the artistic front, I've just completed a posing session yesterday for an artist (here is some of his works) who wants to win the "Naked & Nude Art Prize" (i.e. this competition). It's a rare paid gig for me and all I had to do was to pose nude for half an hour or so and photos were taken which will be used by the artist for painting. Both of us came out with the poses as he wanted this to be a collaborative effort. I don't know whether you can call that a "photo shoot" but at least I didn't have to pose for the entire painting process which will take a LONG time. The painting due to be finished in June will be part of an exhibition and he did say that if the painting (which he values at $2,500) is not sold at the exhibition, he'll give it to me. This might create a problem if it's too big but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. Here's a grainy sample of the type of posing I did followed by the final three paintings entered in the competition by the artist.

As for musical creation, the kink-themed band is not going anywhere as the lead/organiser is busy travelling for work but I know he's still interested. I've always thought it was a wild conception to begin with anyway so I'll not be too upset if it doesn't amount to anything. That doesn't mean I haven't been writing though. In fact I pumped out two songs this month and one each for the past two months. You do need to get in the mood to write (some people call it "inspiration") and I consciously don't want to make myself an assembly line churning out similar-sounding and soulless pieces so I'm pretty satisfied with my song-writing rate.

Another way to get in touch with my musical side is of course to record covers and this month's musical journey features "一半" (or "Half") by a singer/songwriter from China called 薛之謙 (or Joker Xue - I know, I know, they always have weird names). I quite like his music as it sounds different from that of others. A lot of new singers in the Chinese pop scene nowadays write their own material. This ensures that not everything sounds the same in the market and thus can only be a good thing.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Musical journey (103)

A friend's mother passed away recently and her wake took place last month. His family is a close-knit one and so I could only imagine the grief they went through. At that time, I sent him a musical tribute via Whatsapp and Facebook covering Josh Groban's "To Where You Are" which was one of my favourite songs. He thought it was a really nice gesture although I felt that wasn't enough as I was so far away in another state and knew I had to do more.

I remembered he once told me that no one has sung to him before and so I decided there and then to write a song dedicated to him and his love for his mother. The plan was to offer this gift the next time we met by singing it to him and I'm so glad I did just that yesterday when we caught up.

I had to watch my trembling voice carefully and not let emotions take over my control. Tears were however streaming down his eyes by the end when we hugged. Though he thanked me (which is something everyone would do), that was really not required because the important thing to me is to do this for him and what I do or don't get in return doesn't matter.

Music is a very powerful thing especially when it's written and expressed from the heart. This song and its effect on and meaning to my friend reiterated this fact to me. I'll continue to compose and sing from my heart till the day I physically can't do it anymore, this I can promise to all those who like my music. Hope you will also be touched by this song "Remember".


I could see sweet memories in your eyes
Feel the warmth of your hands when I held them tight
I could hear tenderness even when you sighed
Every fading day we stood strong to fight

We can lose our way and each other in our lives
But we will find ourselves back together if we try

I remember the first time I saw you cry
Right to the last time we said goodbye
Because your heart is tied to mine
The flame flickers but it will never die

I will not forget the sad and the glad times
Even though you are no longer by my side

I want to see your face again with that smile
Filled with pride from a mother to her child
Let me be in your arms again just for a while
Just for a little while

I can see sweet memories in my mind
Feel the warmth of your hands when I close my eyes
In you lies the strength on which I rely
Lessons of love you've taught and left behind

Up high you will always be our guiding light
As you dance amongst the stars tonight

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Happy news long overdue

It is finally here!

This promotion is something I've worked hard for for many years and is something the company has owed me for at least four years. I can see why a company is "careful" with this particular promotion because with it, the employee can now check and approve designs, and if incompetent people are promoted, the company would be in trouble if things go wrong. Based on the pay increment I got, the cost of this owed promotion is equivalent to half a year of post-tax salary. So you can see what companies can stand to gain if they manage to deprive deserving employees of their rightful promotions. Just so you get a feel of my frustration, my last promotion took place soon after I started work in Australia back when I was living in Sydney 9 years ago! Although I don't think it's a deliberate and sinister plan to cheat employees, I'm sure much more can be done to improve the situation and based on my personal experience, I'll share what I think the problems (and solutions) are.

Shared Responsibility for Development
In some companies, the employees are expected to be responsible for their own career development and I believe it should be joint effort between them and their managers. To enforce that, manager KPIs must include a quota to develop the careers of their subordinates. Once these quotas are in place, managers will then need to follow through with their promises i.e. paying lip service that they will grow their people will no longer cut it.

Focus on Development Despite Changes
Employees changing locations and managers are often reasons why their development plans fall through the cracks and I don't believe these inevitable changes should hinder their progression. There needs to be a central and stable department (e.g. HR) that is tasked to make managers work on the development plans of their new team members. This is especially important for companies going through organisational changes where even the managers are changing roles or removed from the company altogether.

Equal Prioritisation of Development
A general lack of focus on employee career development is usually evident from the delay of performance review and appraisal sessions or placing them at a lower priority. In fact these sessions should be at the same priority as delivering for clients and shareholders. Unfortunately this doesn't usually happen and is one of the reasons why wage growth has been stagnant in Australia. This then contributes to further income disparity between the rich and the poor.

There are two of Richard Branson's quotes that really resonate with me and I believe they should stay on the walls of every manager's office as a constant reminder for them to focus on their people. Sadly human beings are by nature selfish and so can we really blame managers if they take care of themselves first? That being said, it's not a zero sum game. If you want the culture of a company to change, it has to come from the top, i.e. the likes of Richard Branson.

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don't want to.”

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

But as a low-lying engineer in the company's structure (albeit I'm now slightly higher with the promotion), I'm unable to effect real change from where I am despite providing feedback to managers many times. This explains why the eyes of dissatisfied employees are always peeled for better opportunities.

“We must take care of ourselves at work because nobody else will.” This is the number one advice I'll give newbies starting their first jobs. I'm sure other bloggers will quote me when I get famous and successful one day. For now, I'll just enjoy the promotion and continue plodding along the path of the daily grind.

One thing's for sure though. I can finally stop getting strange looks from people wondering why I'm still not a senior engineer after working in the industry for so long. And that sense of relief is huge beyond words!