Karma in digital age

Yesterday I read an article in New York Times and decided to stalk the author. Why? Cause it is so easy, all it takes is typing the name of a person in Facebook, so, why not? Access to more information.

Today on coming back to office, I got 2 friend requests, one from a random man who claims he works for NASA. “Another predator”, I thought, then cheekily I click okay. The conversation goes in a very typical way

Nasa man – Hello how are you?
Me – I am fine.
Nasa man – Very nice to meet you.
Me – (Gosh this is going forever, and I just had a super long riding day with a group of 7 and a small child to tag along. No time for text play)
Me- Hey, are you looking for a lover? If you do, I already have one.
Nasa man – You mean on Internet?
Me- No I mean for real.
Nasa man- You have another one on the Internet?
Me- No they are the same. The real one and virtual one are the same person.
Nasa man- You mean in Facebook? Have you met him yet?
Me- Unfriend me.
Nasa man- Okay I want to be a friend. Hey do you have any beautiful nice looking friend like you who speaks English? I used to work for NASA and used to be a project manager of bla bla bla.

Actually my main purpose of accepting then unfriending that one is to write this story. Mission accomplished. Maybe next time I am gonna play a bit further.

I want to take you somewhere but…

“I wanna take you somewhere so you know I care
But it’s so cold and I don’t know where
I brought you daffodils in a pretty string
But they won’t flower like they did last spring”

And I wanna kiss you, make you feel alright
I’m just so tired to share my nights
I wanna cry and I wanna love
But all my tears have been used up


The lyrics is so beautiful, so poetic, but I never noticed before. Tom Odell’s cold face, blunt stare make all this so beautifully sad. Love is still there, but dried up like his tears. The heart is still there, longing for another person. The melancholy blues sneak into every corner of the room they have spent so many memories together. Fresh daffodils in the vase fade away as the music becomes more dramatic. He wants to cry, his legs tremble and the room is painted with yellow to dark light. He still cannot move out of the chair.

A very artful way to say “I no longer love you”.

His lover tries hard to get his attention in many forms – tender affection, screaming, explanation, persuasion. All is in vain simply because:

And I’d sing a song, that’d be just ours
But I sang ’em all to another heart
And I wanna cry I wanna learn to love
But all my tears have been used up

The topic of love being dried up for some reasons or no clear reasons has been explored in many art forms and seem to never get old.

What if Tom experiences love being dried up himself, what would he write?

Thinking, fast and slow

Part 1- (Priming effect)

“Money primed undergraduates also showed a greater preference for being alone. The general theme of these findings is that the idea of money primes individualism – a reluctance to be involved with others, to depend on others, or to accept demand from others, The psychologist who has done this remarkable research, Kathleen Vohs, has been laudably restrained in discussing the implications of her findings, leaving the task to her readers.

Her experiments are profound – her findings suggest that living with a culture that surrounds us with reminders of money may shape our behaviours and attitude in ways that we do not know about and of which we may not be proud. Some culture provide frequent reminders of respect, others constantly remind their members of God, and some societies prime obedience by large images of the Dear Leader.

Scattering sentiments

“An overly sensitive mind can lead to insomnia out of thin air, twisted imagination, weird self talk, hyper enthusiasm followed right away by stark oblivion.

All of these cause a civil war inside me, playing with self-esteem as if it is a ball on the beach.

The only cure to this is probably intense sports. Yet, the physical poise gained from training seems to create a wall itself-your body tries to tell your mind to put a brake on emotion whirlwind, as if it is easy as pushing a bicycle.

And then all of these words lose their appeal with a broken screen and a cat jumping on your face. Very romantic. Off. I mean, wait, where is the button?”

(Saigon, Grasshopper Adventures Office)

“I am organizing my blog which forces me to look at various pictures and memories. In a way, it exhausts me and makes me want to do nothing. Now I understand why my grandparents just wanna do nothing but looking at cats and dogs or walk around in the garden. They immerse in a space of overwhelming loneliness, which can only be consoled by nature and the basic elements of life. Loneliness not because there is nothing to share but the volume of what to share far exceeds capacity of daily interactions. Inner mental reservoir is able to live by itself, provides the owner a seclusion, a sweet retreat, a flow irrelevant and at the same so connected with the world out there”.

(Internet Cafe, Saigon, 31/12/2016)

When cool junior becomes too materialistic

Cool junior: Hi sis, I will drop by the office to give you the jersey I borrowed you.
Me: I am not there this afternoon. Just drop by and leave it there to me, okay?
Cool junior: Do you need it urgently?
Me: (thinking thinking) Yes. Just drop by and give it to me.
Cool junior: Hey, by the way, did you get tip in the tour we went a few days ago (which we suppose to share)?
Me (sign): Nope. If I were given tip, I would have let you know.
Cool junior: arhhh…okay.”

(Saigon, 31/12/2016. Tourism high season)

On a side note, hospitality industry may rip real hospitality out of you. Be careful

“Sitting at fishing port and have a strong urge to sketch and write something. Two amateur fishermen are patiently waiting for some lost animals while a father and son untangle yellow lines of a big boat. Life is so abundant around me, whether I ignore or pay attention. Around 20 minutes later I will detach myself off this organic setting to delve into some trivial stuff/tasks and feel something. Sadness, happiness, excitement? Right now none of that matters”

(Catba 18/12/2016, after my lover came back to Hanoi)

“She is about to go to the fishing port, then a voice inside urges her to turn over. Roamed the motorbike, she heads towards the most expensive resort in town.

“Give me the menu”, she says firmly, poised posture. A rational voice jumped in at the right time for her to choose iced coffee instead of some fancy cocktails. 45k for a beach-side sports bar drink, not too bad. She will sip it while waves entertain her. She will imagine this must be Pina Colada though her sense of cocktail review is nearly zero.

Then she laughed her head off. She walks by this resort nearly every single day and knows that she will drink here just to check it off the list of “been there, done that”. The bar girl looks like she is a mix of Japanese and Chinese with a timid lovable smile. She checks that girl out intensely as if there is no second chance, because she will be back to her usual non-luxury lifestyle tomorrow.

Even in here (or especially in here?), Alan Walker still invades her ears just to remind her that Catba, after all, is a tourism hub.

AND she did dig that girl out. Mission accomplished.”

(Catba 14/12/2016. Catba Sunrise Resort)

Now I understand why ppl want to kill themselves or their partner after breakup.

Even work breakup feel the same way. Scary.

The more u love & hurt, the more u want to destroy, as if some wound on other can heal the wound inside you.

Just that it is not true at all. And u have to accept it without causing more destruction.”

(Catba 14/12/2016, Little Catba)

“I parked my bike in front of the beach. The hotel guard approached and started to ramble about how boring (bored) he feels. He probably has no one interested in his ramblings and I don’t mind stories, so we started to communicate. My listening order is predictable “ah u are boring (bored)? How? Why? Why not?”.

The conversation went well until he asked if I have a boy friend. After hearing my answer he stepped aside as if I am a sharp glass piece.

_I am sorry, just asking, he said.
_Sorry for what?

He did not answer and walked away. Above me hawks are flying all over, as if they are chasing something important. That guard comes back and hides inside his usual compartment, thinking something God knows what is”.

(Catco beach 1, 14/12/2016)

I parked the motorbike anxiously while “grandma” greets me

“Why didn’t you come back for a visit? We waited for you”.

I did not answer, probably because I did not know what to say. “I was shy”, I said upon her surprising look. Shy?

In spite of whatever going on in my head, the vibe here does not change. The external harmony that is not affected by internal cognitive dissonance which I need to solve. Cats, dogs, flowers and people relaxing within garden like setting. None of that has to do with my inner conflict. In fact, it even overwhelms my inner conflict and makes it even harder to share.

(Little Catba, 18/12/2016)

“After a food binge for no reason in central market followed by 2 cups of instant coffee, I scrolled all over and saw those – pictures of a friend – a beautiful poised girl speaking in a conference on Vietnamese studies after her post-graduate study. An incredible envy feeling surged inside me which makes that coffee even more bittersweet. I cannot help relate to my desire to fulfill my academic pursuit. I wanted to be that girl for a moment.

I thought by reading Bernard Russel’s book on happiness, my envy will be cured. Instead, It is intensified by an overdose of caffeine at midnight. Between envy and admiration, I just feel envy – strong and acute than ever. For a moment, I want to escape into an illusive digital world where keyboard warriors can save the world, where the game becomes real commercial battleground. I miss my nights in Saigon in super speedy internet cafes.

Actually, forget about that girl for a moment cause this animated song is so cool. E-sports is such an interesting topic”.

(Little Catba, midnight)

Self Reliance

Once in a while there are books like “Self-reliance”. Its name mentioned several times in the past but I never stop to really dig deeper. With a cloudy head and no prior reading to get a sense of history or author autobiography context, “Self-Reliance” goes to my mind as raindrops flowing upon the leaves of mung bean trees, slowly glide then fall on the ground, drop by drop.

Sitting beside a public building near central port of Catba Island when it is getting dark, I absorb this huge lost in translation. Of the same language written but divided by context and knowledge background, I hold the e-reader device and stare at the words. Occasionally some sentences echo.

I will save them here before the momentum is gone.


“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion, it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude”.

This can be refered to the concept of peace and escapism, or the so-called Buddism that many follow yet a few understand.

A word mentioned repeatedly in the essay is non conformity. It sounds like a nice idea, yet

1. What is the difference between a nonconformist and a rebel?

2. If u don’t conform the outside world, does that mean u should conform the inside world? What is the inside world anyway but influence of interactions with outside world?



“The other terror. That scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we loath to disappoint them”.

“Speak what u think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradicts everything u said today”.


“When we have new perception, we shall gladly disburden the memory of its hoarded treasures as old rubbish”


Below are some reviews worth mentioning

  1. New York Times Review

“The larger problem with the essay, and its more lasting legacy as a cornerstone of the American identity, has been Emerson’s tacit endorsement of a radically self-centered worldview. It’s a lot like the Ptolemaic model of the planets that preceded Copernicus; the sun, the moon and the stars revolve around our portable reclining chairs, and whatever contradicts our right to harbor misconceptions — whether it be Birtherism, climate-science denial or the conviction that Trader Joe’s sells good food — is the prattle of the unenlightened majority and can be dismissed out of hand”