10 Things You Can Do When You’re Both Too Busy For Each Other

Time waits for no man or woman and that spells bad news when you are in a long-term relationship, or even worse, a marriage! But fear not, love conquers all. And if it doesn’t, the little things you do will.

Here are 10 things you could do when you are both too busy to spend time together but you still want to show your love to your significant other.

Give each other 1-minute hugs. And when you are given one, no matter how busy you are, take the 60-seconds of silence as a “I miss you” or a “I know you are stressed out, here’s me showing you I’m thinking of you”. You have 1440 minutes in a day, you can spare one or two.

Buy small, inexpensive things that remind you of your significant other. It could be their favourite food like a cupcake, chocolate or chrysanthemum tea (some people have unique tastes). You don’t have to go out of your way to do it, just pick one up if you pass their favourite store.

Send single emoji hugs or kisses through your favourite social bridge. I prefer WhatsApp myself, but you can work with any platform you want, even pen and paper.

Make honest statements. If you are unhappy, just tell them that you are. Don’t make them guess. Don’t throw tantrums. Don’t let them belittle your feelings either. Talk to them about how their actions make your life worse, or better. Relationships grow stronger with every honest discussion you have. Here’s some “fun” reading on this topic: Why You Would Marry The Wrong Person

Spend anniversaries and birthdays together. It may be hard to take days off to go on holiday together but make an effort to celebrate the few special days together. Wedding anniversaries should be celebrated if you still give a hoot. Birthdays can be gift-less but not company-less.

Visit family when you can. Being around family or in-laws make you and your spouse behave. You don’t get to ignore your better half while playing a mobile game if his or her parents are around. You wouldn’t dare. Also, it brings back memories of time when you have little to worry about how to sneak away from family to have some alone time.

Say thank you and sorry. Not for small insignificant things. Say thank you to them, for putting up with you and your hectic schedule. Say sorry for making them put up with you and your hectic schedule.

Sprinkle compliments in your everyday life. It could be a new tie or a lipstick colour, or it could be a new recipe they are trying out. If you want your spouse to look good, compliment them when they make the effort rather than pointing out what other flaws they should work on.

Use the kids. If your spouse has always been the one to handle the tantrums, take over once in a while so he or she can grab a breather. When it’s time for dinner, ask the kids to “summon” the busy spouse or make them take coffee to the parent who is hard-at-work. Sometimes kids can help one destress fairly easily. Only works with parents though.

Joke and laugh together. If there is only enough time to say one thing, make that something you say elicit a smile, or even better, a laugh. The couple who laughs together has less time to argue with each other. #makestotalsense

Disappointment Island. Terrible Name. Real Island.

I love puzzles. They are time-consuming and back-breaking and I particularly love the ones that do not come with an instruction manual. So this is a beauty to behold.


It’s a 540-piece 3D world map puzzle. It’s accurate. I spent two days on it with Google Map and Wikipedia open on my browser. And the best part is, it spins. #itsafreakingglobe


Each piece curves a little and is made from good quality material that can withstand drops and the tension from the curvature. I don’t know if that makes sense to you but basically, you can kick this globe around and it won’t fall apart unless you really want it to. It’s good quality stuff.

While putting together the oceans, I came across a lot of islands. Like a heck-load of them. The most interesting of them all, to me, is this one.


Yes, that’s the puzzle piece of where Desappointement Island is. Here’s where you can find Disappointment island on Google Maps (50°36.25′S 165°58.38′E).

Where Is Disappointment Island Exactly?

Disappointment Island is one of seven islands grouped under the Auckland Islands archipelago. It belongs to New Zealand and is part of what’s known as the New Zealand Subantarctic Islands. This group of island has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Compared to Auckland Island, Disappointment Island is small (284 ha) but it’s home to pretty much the world’s population of the white-capped albatross/mollymawk; no humans though.

The other islands are Adams Island (bottom of the map), Enderby Island, Ewing Island, Rose Island, Dundas Island, and Green Island (top right corner).

Department of Conservation, New Zealand

And that would be the end of this post if not for the late discovery that I got the wrong island!

Google Map

Yes, there are two places in the world where sailors came to an island, felt disappointed with what they found and decided to warn future sailors to not go there by officiating the islands with the title “DISAPPOINTMENT”. (I kid. I have no idea why they gave these island that name but I’m pretty sure the true story is pretty close.)


So the second Disappointment islands (plural), also known as Îles du Désappointement is in French Polynesia. Here’s the rough location on Google Map, although to be honest, there isn’t really much to see.

Then I found this map, created by Holger Behr (released into the public domain) which made things a lot clearer.

Wikipedia Commons

See, the majority of the Disappointment Islands consists of coral islands, which is why you can’t see any land mass in that area on the Google Map satellite view.

There are however three islands that are populated (yes, by humans), namely Napuka (an atoll which is a ring-shaped land mass), Puka-Puka and Tepoto.

Napuka (around 360 inhabitants) and Puka-puka (around 100 inhabitants) have an airport each. Tepoto is a much smaller island with around 60 inhabitants. (Figures are from 2012; I’m not sure how often they update the census in remote islands.)

While Disappointment Island 1 is pretty near New Zealand, Disappointment Islands 2 is in the middle of the Pacific ocean, nowhere near large masses or other civilisations. And yet, 2 has islands that are populated while 1 doesn’t. Isn’t that just insane?

Yes, it is.

One Last Thing

Since it’s always fun to end posts with a question, the question I chose for this title was: How far is Disappointment Island 1 from Disappointment Islands 2?

Google Maps

The answer? Pretty darn far!

Why Mothers Cook

Before I got married, I only know how to make a couple of egg dishes, stir fry vegetables and tasteless, bland soup.

I love food but I don’t really like making it. You take forever to shop for ingredients, then another forever to prepare the ingredients. Sometimes the recipe works, sometimes it doesn’t. Everyone is a critic and the wash up afterwards is just so darn tiring. Can you blame me for preferring takeout?

Six months ago, my significant other got me a pressure cooker. The purchase opened up half a world of possibilities for me. I have the tool, but I still need the skills (pretty much how to properly use the darn thing). So I joined a Facebook Group there. That’s where I found a full world of possibilities waiting for me.

HDIM Makes Char Siu

Since Sliced Bread

It’s the best invention ever. The pressure cooker. Throw all your ingredients in and push a few buttons, and let it cut down the cooking time to about a third of the usual time. There is minimal clean up afterwards, results are almost always the same, flavourful, calming and fulfilling – pretty much the last three adjectives I would use to describe my cooking.

But everyone is happy with what I make. And that makes me happy.

I’ve even started baking. If you told me exactly a year ago that I would be making Japanese cheesecakes (yeah, the jiggly type) like a pro (ok, semi-pro), I’d call you crazy, and perhaps a few other names just to drive the point home.

HDIM Bakes Marble Cheesecake
HDIM Bakes Marble Cheesecake

My mother and late grandmothers don’t bake. It’s just not something people in my bloodline do. We buy cakes. We don’t make them. And yet, here I am making jiggly cheesecakes and chocolate cheesecakes with baking paper and a baking tin.

HDIM Bakes Cheesecakes in the Pressure Cooker

Other times, I bake chicken instead. A good friend of mine told me that I would love baking. And she was right. Baked chicken is a different kind of goodness, and should be savoured by all.

HDIM Bakes Chicken Drumsticks

Apart from baking, I also use my pressure cooker to make delicious, nutritious soups, curries and even steamed seafood. And I don’t have to stand over the hot stove for hours to get them done. I just throw them in, and an hour later, take them all out and prep for dinner.

HDIM Pressure Cooked Dinners
HDIM Pressure Cooked Dinners

I’ve always known the feeling of coming home to a hot dinner. It is one of the ways I know I am loved – be it by my mom or my mom-in-law. And now I pour all of that effort back into the food I make for my kids, my significant other, my extended family and my guests.

My biggest fan is my daughter, who takes two bowls of rice whenever I cook. She spoils me with praises (which I ignore) and almost always takes a second helping of rice and the soups I make (which I appreciate).

I get it now. I get why moms cook. And I get why moms get upset when you don’t come home for dinner when you said you would. But I digress.

By controlling what I make for her (no fried foods, not too oily, minimising artificial seasoning, opting for healthier alternatives), I don’t have to worry whether she is eating right or if she lacks certain nutrients. I’ve got the minimum covered.

I let her indulge in junk food if her father is the one who bought it for her. She knows to not take soft drinks after any school or sports activities that make her sweat (only water) and when it comes to ice cream, it’s a weekly family activity. Children need childhood memories, after all.

So yeah, get a pressure cooker if you haven’t got one. It will change your life in the kitchen and at home.

Personal thoughts: I need to take better-looking photographs.

Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person

This is one of the most important videos on relationships I have ever watched. Writer and philosopher Alain de Botton, of the School of Life fame, speaks to an audience about why we would probably marry the wrong person.

It would be best that you watch the video in its entirety. You’ll probably need 2 or 3 views of the full video to get every important point he has to say.

If you don’t have the time, here’s a cheatsheet I’ve produced on the lessons and interpretations I’ve made from the video.

First, We Need To Talk About Ourselves

  1. We’re strange.
  2. We’re hard to live with.
  3. We don’t know this until we’re pretty old because nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news, not friends, not family, and not our loved ones.
  4. We addicts. We addicts of distractions because we are not comfortable being just with or by ourselves.
  5. Love requires us to tell another soul we are vulnerable without their presence. It’s like revealing our weakness to the other person.
  6. We suck at telling people how we need them.
  7. The first way we do it is becoming real strict with them particularly with procedures: You are 10 minutes late. Take the trash out. ETC. When in fact, what we want to actually ask is: Do you still care about me?
  8. The second way we do it is avoidance. We tell them we are busy. A lot. Busy busy busy. “I’m fine. I’m just busy.”
  9. In short: we do not know how to love. We view it as an instinct, when in fact it is a skill.

Again this is an oversimplification of what you can learn from watching the full video. Do give it a go. Or keep reading.

So What Is Love Actually?

  1. There is a difference between “loving” and “being loved”.
  2. Being loved is like how grandma bakes cookies for you. Yeah, that sort of love.
  3. We grow up thinking that’s what’s going to happen when we’re adults. Thus, we neglect learning how to love.
  4. “To love is to be willing to apply charity and generosity of interpretation” – Think of the good things when it comes to someone’s action and/or behaviour #hecouldneverdoyouwrong
  5. Everyone we love is going to be a mixture of the good and the bad. Everyone we love is going to disappoint us.
  6. Love is not just an admiration for strength (the good). It is also tolerance for weakness and recognition of ambivalence.
  7. In other words, that someone you love will be both good and bad. And that’s okay.

I’ve skipped through quite a number of things in the above, and there will be more skipping in the next few parts, so watch the video. Or if you are pressed for time, keep reading.

Choose With Your Head, Not Your Heart

(This part is going to mess you up.)

  1. When you choose a partner, people tell you to follow your heart, don’t think too much, and for god’s sake don’t overthink it.
  2. That’s not right. There is no such thing as thinking too much about emotions.
  3. “We live in a romantic culture that privileges impulse.” #suchabeautifulsuccinctstatement
  4. A lot of the way we love as adults comes as an effect as the way we learn to love as children.
  5. A lot of our experiences of love is tied in with various kinds of suffering.
  6. Between the hugs and kisses are harsh treatments, being scolded, made to feel small or insignificant by parents.
  7. When we grow up, we seek out partners who make us feel the same way. The happiness, and suffering we feel is familiar to us. And so we think that’s the way to be loved.
  8. Another root of relationship problems is that the more we think a love is right for us, the less we feel we need to explain things to them.
  9. We expect them to guess what is hidden inside our heads (what we need to be happy, what we want) instead of just telling them what we want.
  10. We want to be understood without words because it’s… romantic. When that doesn’t work, we sulk.

Watch the video or keep reading to find a new meaning in the word sulking.

We Sulk when We Should Teach

(Sorry, my mistake. THIS part is going to be mess you up.)

  1. We don’t sulk with just anyone. We sulk with people who we feel should understand us and yet for some reason decided not to.
  2. When asked what is wrong, we say, “NOTHING, I’M FINE” when clearly, we’re not.
  3. When pressed, we become frustrated with the fact that we have to explain ourselves when we actually want them to understand us without us saying anything.
  4. That will lead to catastrophe. If you do not explain, you will never be understood.
  5. The root to a good marriage and good love is the ability to become a good teacher.
  6. Teaching is a word we give to the skill of getting an idea from one head to another head in a way that is likely to be accepted.
  7. We all suck at this.
  8. Most of us teach when we are tired, or when we are frightened (of the thought of having married an idiot). When that fear is strong, we scream at them, “You have got to understand!” and stop teaching.
  9. To teach, we must be relaxed. We must accept that maybe your partner may not understand.
  10. If you are in a relationship, you will teach each other and you will learn from each other.
  11. This is necessary but it is also why you will have an unhappy relationship.
  12. Being told something bad about yourself will make you uncomfortable or worse, feel personally attacked. That’s not what they are trying to do. They are trying to make you a better person.
  13. Ironically, we don’t tend to believe this has a role in love. We tend to believe that “true love” has to be an accepting of the whole of us. It doesn’t.
  14. No one should accept the whole of us. We are terrible. Wanting the whole of you accepted (unconditionally) is not love.
  15. What we need to do is accept that the other person is going to want to educate us, and that what they say is NOT a criticism but an attempt to make us into better versions of ourselves.

Last chance to watch the video. Nah, I’m kidding. You can watch it anytime. Here’s the conclusion.

Will We Never Find The Right Person?

  1. None of us are perfect, if we demand perfectionism, we will end up alone. You can’t have perfection and company.
  2. To be in company with another person is to be negotiating imperfection every day.
  3. We are all incompatible.
  4. But with love, we graciously accommodate each other and ourselves to these incompatibilities.
  5. Even with that, you are not going to be totally compatible. That’s not the point.
  6. It is through love that you gradually accept the need to be compatible.
  7. We should also recognise an ability to compromise. Compromise carries negative emotions, when in fact compromise is noble.
  8. We compromise in every area of life. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t compromise in our love life.

Need to revisit any parts?

If not, let’s go to the most important part.

Digesting what is in the video and thinking about what the video means to us individually and personally. My take is as below, if you want an idea of what I mean.

Personal Thoughts

The first time I watched this video, I’ve only caught parts of what he was conveying. A second view taught me more. By the third view, I couldn’t wait to share this with other married couples in strong healthy relationships and those who aren’t. And in writing up this cheatsheet, I’ve watched the videos more times than I can count.

This speaks volume on the complexity of a love relationship.

Personally, I found some parts to be painfully accurate. I’ve always believed that we would find a spouse who reminds us of one or both of our parents.

But in learning that this may be due to the way we are used to how parents loved us and made us suffer when we were growing up, so much so that we are inclined to find a spouse who make us feel the same way because we seek that sense of familiarity – that in itself answers a lot of questions.

Second, the part where we have to learn the difference between loving someone and being loved by someone, this became known to me when I was a mother. It is essentially what we label as unconditional love. Mothers do that from the get go.

Because pregnancy is torturous.

And yet when you hold your newborn in your arms, you will do anything to anyone who dares to harm a hair of this creature that just put you through months of misery. If that isn’t unconditional love, I’m not sure what is.

More importantly, fathers do not go through this emotional growth because they were spared the 40-week physical misery. And as mothers, we need to understand that fathers lack that “motivation” to love your child as much as you do. That by no ways mean they can’t. But this does answer a lot of questions, doesn’t it?

Third, always trying to make men guess what we are thinking, is a formula for disaster. I’ve always known we do this. I just didn’t know why until I watched this video.

Now, I tell wives to spell things out for their husbands. I openly frown when they say things like, “he should know by now”, “does he not realise…” and “this is understood”.

No. You want flowers, you ask for it. Be specific with the colour, the number, where to get them, when you want them, how you want them. Tell (teach) them once and they will do it repeatedly when they realise how much this makes you that much happier.

Stop wasting time sulking. Life is too short. If you are unhappy, tell them why rather than show them how angry you are (though the latter can be more effective at times).

Fourth, stop taking everything your partner asks you to improve on as a criticism or something that devalues your self-worth.

If they don’t like your cooking, be a better cook. Take classes, watch cooking shows, experiment, learn to pick fresher ingredients, ask for advice from seasoned cooks etc.

If they ask you to get out more, get an outdoor hobby, go jogging, take a zumba class. If they ask you to learn how to spend money more wisely, learn how to budget and keep track of your expenses.

If they make a remark about your appearance, say, your grey hairs are showing, visit the hair salon and get a new hair colour, eat more nutritious food, rest more. Every one of those things make you pick up skills and help you be a better individual.

Lastly, I believe with all my heart that we can’t stay in love forever, the same way we can’t stay angry or sad or happy forever. If you expect love to be the only thing holding a marriage together, then you’re going to have to go through a lot of marriages in your lifetime. #amirite

Near the end of the video, Alain mentioned a common reason married couples stay together despite problems in marriage: sticking around for the children. While this usually carries a negative connotation, he thinks that it is a wonderful reason to stick around. “Why else are you going to stick around?”

I like the breath of fresh air he gives to our view of what love is, what marriages are, and what we can do to keep a marriage healthy and strong. And that’s what this ridiculously long post has been all about.

HDIM Reviews: Alias Grace (2017)

My favourite accent has always been the Irish accent, but I never knew that there were sub-accents(?) that differ depending on which part of Ireland you are from (now that I’ve said that, it kinda makes perfect sense although my ear would probably not be able to tell the difference).

Apparently the accent that Canadian actress, Sarah Gadon has in her role as is-she-isnt-she-a-murderess, Grace Marks, is a Northern Ireland accent. And she nailed that role so hard, your head is left spinning after watching the conclusion.

Sarah Gadon stuns in Alias Grace

Spoilers ahead!

The 6-part series, Alias Grace explores the story about a maid named Grace Marks, who at the start of the show, had been serving time for her part in two gruesome murders. A doctor is asked to come talk to her, to garner any sense of real guilt or innocence in her, and hopefully, secure a release for her after 15 years of imprisonment.

The show is based on a 1996 book by Margaret Atwood, who also wrote The Handmaid’s Tale. And Atwood fictionalised it from an 1843 true story where a maid of the same name was convicted of two gruesome murders many were not entirely convinced she had a hand in.

Over the six episodes, Grace would tell the doctor about how she had been treated during her incarceration in the asylum and in prison, how her mother had died during the journey over, and had left her and her siblings under the care of an abusive drunkard father.

Grace speaks to the good doctor while tending to her chores

She told him about how she became employed as a maid, where she would find solace and a friend in Mary Whitney, a crucial character in her story.

Spoilers ahead!

Mary would become pregnant with a child that belonged to the master of the house and of course we all know how that will turn out. She tries to have the baby aborted but succumbs to the procedure, bleeding to death that same night in the bed she sleeps in.

Grief-stricken, Grace leaves the household for a job with higher pay and moves to the home where the murders would eventually occur. We then get to see who the victims and the co-conspirators were to Grace, and what led up to the murders.

Well, at least up until the murders, after which, Grace would have no memory of. How convenient.

Throughout the series, the doctor is shown to develop an attraction (fuelled by pity, perhaps) to Grace (it’s that accent, I tell ya), and every time someone tells him that Grace is capable of lies and deceit, that seems to make him want to help her more. In the final episode, he eventually allows a Dr DuPont to conduct hypnotism on Grace to restore some of her memories of the event.

The seance scene

The finale is an episode you do not want to miss.

Verdict: Watch it if murder mysteries do not make you squeamish and you are up for slow-burn storytelling. Runtime is 45 mins x 6 episodes.

HDIM 100-word Reviews: Bad Genius (2017)

Bad Genius debates the ethics of cheating in exams and the moral repercussions one has to deal with when they get caught and when they don’t.

Screengrab from Netflix

No matter if you have tried cheating in a school exam before, you can relate to the level of stress portrayed in this clever Thai movie. The various ingenious cheating methods are fun to watch, but what really needs a shout-out is the editing done on this movie.

Screengrab from Netflix

You wouldn’t be able to tell that the four main characters were first-time actors. It’s a great two-hour movie for the whole family.

HDIM 100-word Reviews: Hilda (2018)

Based on a graphic novel, Hilda is an adorable and brave protagonist in a delightful animated series that is perfect for kids and preteens alike.

Hilda on Facebook

Hilda’s world is one with trolls that come alive at night and turn to rock in the day, nisse, creatures that live in the crevices in your wall and sofa, and the back of your bookcase, as well as paperwork-obsessed tiny elves.

Hilda herself displays a true sense of adventure, bravery, a strong moral compass and a great love for the environment. She’s the role model you have been waiting for all your life!

Stay At Home Mom (SAHM): Is it for me?

Many women work nowadays, especially those who build their lives and families in urban areas. Ultimately, when they become mothers, this question will pop up: Should I become a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM)?

If you are a working mother wondering if you can and/or should make the transition to Stay At Home Mom (SAHM), here’s the gist of what to expect.

It’s Not Going To Be Smooth Sailing

To start off, one major disadvantage of being a SAHM with no help from family (a sister, a mother, an in-law living) nearby is that you don’t get days off or sick leave.

You are also expected to accommodate your spouse who is always tired whilst you are never allowed to be.

Why are you tired? You’re always at home!” is going to be something you may hear a lot, as if you automatically recharge once you step through the house door. Don’t let that bug you.

You’re expected to keep the house clean, keep your body slim, tend to the children’s every need then your spouse’s every need.

You’re going to be up at an ungodly hour, prepping kids then meals, doing the laundry then the dishes, run to the market, post office, school, bank, government offices etc because your significant other can’t take time off from work to do these runs and get back in time for their next meeting.

At the end of the day, you will be expected to wear a smile on your face.

It’s All About The Money

The amount of things to do every day will seem endless, and for many SAHM they opt to get outside help for instance they take away food instead of cooking, and opt for school buses instead of doing school runs themselves.

If you want to get outside help, you can, if your spouse earns enough. (We’ll talk about money later on. It needs its own section.)

You want to go for a facial, do your hair, get a mani/pedicure etc, sure, no problem, but this is a conversation between you and your spouse.

Different households have different financial situations which can lead to different conversations.

But all of us will have to be really good with money, and figure out how to manage that finite amount we have to work with every month.

If there comes a time when you don’t have enough to work with, you have to (or learn to) tell the breadwinner. Remember that it’s not your fault if people decide to hike prices, so don’t apologise for asking for a higher allowance/funds.

Splitting responsibilities

As a Stay at Home Parent, you run a household so all you need to do is worry about the household; income is not under your department.

I say this because it’s likely that you are not getting help around the house from your spouse if s/he is working and you are not. Because that’s not their department.

It’s some weird unspoken deal that was made when one of you stops working. I believe this is one of the many issues that will plague households that make that transition from two working parents to one working parent.

Some couples hash it out, while others go into multiple weekly fights fighting about whose turn it is to do the dishes and take out the trash. It helps to remember that everyone is entitled to a break (even though they are always at home).

Many Things Won’t Go In Your Favour

There will be other things that will leave you feeling second-rate. What actually transpires may be different from one house to the next, but here are just a few examples of what to look out for:

  • Often, you may be made to feel like you are second-class; phone calls from work will always take precedence before you, and your family time. You will have to be both parents to your children.
  • You could have completed nine things in the span of an hour, but people will focus on that one thing you have not done just yet. “Why is the laundry/dishes/dinner still not done? They will interrogate you but they will probably not lift a finger to help. At times like this, ask for help rather than asking them why they are not helping. In other words, say “Can you help me pick up the kids from piano class?” rather than “Would it kill you to pick up Sam from piano class on your way home for lunch?
  • When your spouse breaks promises to your children, you have to also be the one who will have to defend them, even though you yourself are upset with them.
  • On top of that, the children’s problems are always your fault. Bad grades? Your fault for not sending them to enrichment classes. Too skinny? Your fault for not being a better cook. Fell down scrape their knee in school? It’s your fault for not getting them involved more in sports. Got bullied? Your fault for not teaching them to stick up for themselves. Teacher complain about them? Your fault for not making them perfect little angels. They taking junk food, soft drinks, fast food? Your fault for opting for the drive-thru instead of hunting for healthier albeit slower, more expensive and more cumbersome alternatives.

So… Are You Saying “Don’t” Be A SAHM?

By now, you may be thinking, “you know what? Being a SAHM doesn’t sound like all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe a SAHM isn’t for me after all seeing as how it looks like an incredibly bad deal on the part of the mom’s.”

Well, it depends on the type of partner you have and whether you have a healthy mindset that will allow you to attach significance to your role as a SAHM.

Having a supportive partner goes a long way. A supportive partner will not only help out with the kids and in the house, he will also acknowledge your contributions in keeping expenses low in the house and putting nutritious food on the table, and he will speak on your behalf when people say silly things like, “why stay at home all day? Come out to work and contribute to society.”

On that last note, I’ve just recently learned that you have to treat being a SAHM as an actual job.

You have to list your achievements, your capabilities and your disadvantages and not let people put you or your role down. Like it or not, your children are a product of your upbringing and the environment you put them in – and thus, your source of pride.

When your children behave in public, are healthy, well-fed, know how to handle themselves and their siblings well, are opinionated, are fun to be with, are helpful, respectful to elders etc – that means you excel in your role as a SAHM.

And I promise you, being told that “you are a good mom” will make all the behind-the-scenes worth it.

Personal thoughts: I should write about the way you never notice SAHM contribute to society.

How In-Laws Make You A Better Person

You may have swapped rings and vows, build a family or a business together, and have gone through some of the highs and lows in your life with your significant other. But there will always be an thorn in the rose bush that comes in the form of their family members.

That’s right.

In-laws. The makers or breakers of relationships. Most notably the mother-in-law (or more affectionately known in Messaging circles as “mil”).

I have a wonderful mother-in-law. She’s stubborn but hardworking, naive but firm, worries a lot because she cares and most importantly, she is fun to be around. Together with her loving husband of five decades, give or take, they are the perfect in-laws to have.

Of course there are problems, not necessarily limited to these two nice folks. The Chinese has a saying 一种米养百种人 (One type of rice feeds 100 types of people). We may all eat the same food but our behaviour, mannerism, preferences, dislikes, values, sense of ethics, qualms and ideologies amongst others may differ greatly.

The upbringing we share at that home may be different from the upbringing values of this home.

Some households push toothpaste from the middle of the tube, some at the end. Some households eat dinner in front of the TV, others in collective silence, still others in the midst of “what happened in school today” conversations.

Once you marry into a family, you have to make adjustments. And this happens both ways – your spouse has in-laws too.

Having to adjust how you were brought up, merge it with or totally adopt a new way of life is tough.

Traditionally, this falls on the daughter-in-law since she marries into her husband’s family. But nowadays, the son-in-law can also have a healthy relationship with his wife’s family.

They also make adjustments to their way of life, sometimes, if I may be so honest, with a high level of tolerance. Because where there is no love to be had, tolerance is the next best thing.

I think this is why the Chinese, or Asians in general, have always made it important to marry and have children. Because in learning how to love and or tolerate our in-laws, we learn how to become better people.

We learn that things don’t always have to be the way we want it to be, and if you insist on this being your way of life (e.g. forcing your daughter-in-law to do something she is not used to doing), something will break.

We learn about boundaries: when to say what needed to be said and when to keep quiet and sit in the corner.

We learn that there are a million ways to do the same thing. Some methods may work better than the method we were brought up with. It helps to keep an open mind.

We learn about strange, weird, sometimes alien behaviour such as how a family copes with bad news.

We learn about the different ways family treat traditions, customs, food, children, even time (how fine is the line between punctual and late?).

We learn how to fight with people who know where we live, people who go to the same gatherings as we do, people who our children may absolutely adore and love to spend time with. It’s a weird dynamic, but one we have to learn how to master, one way or another.

And most importantly, we learn that “outsiders” can care about us just as much as our flesh and blood family can.

Personal thoughts: This post went in a very different way than I initially set out to write.

Pickering’s Harem: Sexism in the Study of Stars

TIL about Annie Jump Cannon and Cecilia Payne, two scientists I have never heard about, probably because of their gender.

At a time when women were expected in the kitchen instead of in a lab, these two scientists were part of an 80-women crew tasked by Edward Pickering to do the grueling work of cataloguing stars – by hand and magnifying glass – in 1896.

There were no computers back then. The women were the computers. Here’s a snapshot of part of the group dated possibly in 1911.

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Back row (L to R): Margaret Harwood, Mollie O’Reilly, Edward C. Pickering, Edith Gill, Annie Jump Cannon, Evelyn Leland (behind Cannon), Florence Cushman, Marion Whyte (behind Cushman), Grace Brooks. Front row: Arville Walker, possibly Johanna Mackie, Alta Carpenter, Mabel Gill, Ida Woods.

Annie Jump Cannon developed a stellar classification system, and classified 350,000 stars in her lifetime. At the peak of her career, she could classify 200 stars an hour, down to the 9th magnitude, much fainter than what the human eye is accustomed to, with unbelievable accuracy. Her classification system, a merging of the systems developed by Williamina Fleming and Antonia Maury, is still in use in modern astronomy today, also known as the Harvard Spectral Classification.

Cannon was also deaf, by the way, a result of scarlet fever when she was much younger. But I digress.

Cannon did not understand the significance of her work, until Cecilia Payne joined the crew and figured out that the classifications pointed to how hot the stars were, a breakthrough discovery at the time. Payne explained this in her PhD thesis, Stellar Atmospheres, which she completed at the age of 25.

Alongside that discovery, she also explained and proved that hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and is pretty much what stars are made of. At the time, it was widely believed that stars share the same make up as the Earth.

Her dissertation proves this to be untrue but the top expert at the time convinced her to omit her conclusions from her thesis. Despite this, her dissertation is widely recognised as an important piece of work in our understanding of the Universe.

Pickering’s Computer Women worked 6 days a week, 7 hours a day and were paid no more than 25 cents an hour. Most would often not be credited or recognised for their work until much later in life and when women in Science became a less alien idea.

Here are some other names with their own contributions to the cause:

  • Mary Anna Draper (Mrs Draper) the wife of Henry Draper, who donated her husband’s equipment and her inheritance to the Harvard College Observatory, subsequently funding Pickering’s crew in their star classification efforts. Although she is not part of Pickering’s Crew, without her monetary involvement and influence, the crew would probably never come to be.
  • Williamina Fleming, was initially Edward Pickering’s maid, but eventually became a major contributor to the Henry Draper Catalog‘s first classification of 10,000 stars. She was also the uncredited discoverer of the Horsehead Nebula.
  • Henrietta Swan Leavitt discovered the relation between “the luminosity and the period of Cepheid variables” and contributed to the understanding of galactic distance indicators. Her work would help many other astronomers (such as Edwin Hubble) make other discoveries.
  • Antonia Maury conducted initial study of the spectroscopic binary orbit. Her work was eventually used by Danish astronomer Ejnar Hertzsprung in his efforts to identify giant and dwarf stars.

The work of these women are far more complex than my small brain can comprehend but the fact that they can get anything done under relatively hostile and demoralising workplace conditions is a miracle in itself.

Nowadays we can find more women doing well in Science even though sexism is still alive and thriving in many corners of the globe. But if sexism couldn’t stop the likes of women like Cannon and Payne, its not going to stop today’s women from making their name in Science either.

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