The Botanist

Today, I learned about the existence of David Goodall – a renowned 104-year-old botanist who flew from Australia to Switzerland to utilize the country’s assisted-suicide facilities. While stories like these are probably more common than I imagine (albeit, with younger people), what made this occasion special was the invitation of press coverage.

You see, Goodall had a mission. He was a representative of Exit International – a nonprofit advocating the legalization of euthanasia. He wanted the world to know that some people want to die, despite being perfectly healthy and of sound mind. You don’t have to be broody and depressed to want to die. Sometimes you’ve just had enough of life, and that’s reason enough.

In his own words when asked if he was happy, “No, I am not happy. I want to die.”

And sure enough, the media brought his story to light. They covered his life, his decisions, and his situation. It sparked a lot of debate, and while I don’t know if Goodall’s death directed impacted any policies worldwide, it gave him the attention he was looking for.

Goodall wasn’t enjoying his life. He no longer could do the things he enjoyed despite being healthy. Sure, he was slowly deteriorating, but it was a slow process. He lost the ability to drive, his eyesight started failing, he had a fall in his home and was only discovered after two days by his cleaner. His quality of life wasn’t great and yet he was still illegible for assisted suicide in Victoria, Australia – the only state where it’s legal but only if you’re terminally ill.

He didn’t know how long he was going to live for, but whatever that number was, it was too much for him. He announced his plans to his family in April 2018 and set his plan in motion. A month later, he flew to Switzerland and was administered a lethal dose of Nembutal (by his hand), to the soundtrack of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.

Usually, I’m not an advocate for suicide – but hey,  if someone in his position requests for assisted suicide and they are in the right mind, I think it should be granted.  It’s a long and troublesome process that nobody applies for on a whim. You’ve got to want it if you want it. Also, it’s not cheap (sorry, poor people, you’ll have to do it illegally – or do something stupid like Bruce Willis in Die Hard 3).

Here’s why it’s okay for old people to want to die even if they’re not close to death – they’ve lived for a long time. They’ve probably done everything they’ve ever wanted to do in life, there’s nothing more to experience – they’ve hit the max level cap. Especially for people like Goodall – he’s been married thrice, lived in multiple countries, and earned accolades for his work. For crying out loud, he used to perform in a theater till he was 90, and was still working at the age of 103!

Goodall didn’t want to be a burden on people (my man) and dreaded the thought of living in a nursing home. It was going to be beneficial to his family since they wouldn’t have to care or worry about him anymore. I thought that was very selfless of him. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I agree with euthanasia.

I’m sure I won’t live until anywhere near a hundred, but in the event where I require assistance to end my existence, this post is up for everyone to read if they were unconvinced by my decision.

You fought a good fight, Mr. Goodall, rest in peace.

On Being Productive

I don’t consider myself the most productive person in the world, far from it. However, I am more productive than some people (according to them). As discussed in last week’s Evening Drama episode, there are things I do to help me in this aspect, so I thought I’d elaborate a bit more.

If you’re here for a list:

  1. Make things as easy as possible for yourself to be productive.
  2. Breakdown tasks into achievable portions. Scale down large ideas if you have to.
  3. Reward yourself. You’re more inclined to finish off your work if you know you’ll enjoy yourself later.

Long version:

Make things as easy as possible for yourself to be productive.

One of the best ways to make or break habits is to modify the situation. For example, if you want to stop smoking, you could start by getting rid of all your cigarettes. If you want a smoke you’ll have to ask someone for it or go out to buy a pack. If your gym is walking distance compared to an hour-long drive away, you’re more likely to stick with the former. Change the conditions of what you have to do so that you don’t have to go through too many hurdles to stay productive.

For example, if I’m planning to write or draw for the day, I launch WordPress, Google Docs, or Manga Studio on my computer. Knowing that an app is open makes me more inclined to work on my writing or comics because I’ve removed the hurdle of launching it.

Other things that can help – having a nice workspace. Clean up your desk, untangle your wires, make sure you have what you need to work within arm’s reach. If you have to leave your desk to get a tool in the middle of your work, you’re just giving yourself extra obstacles. Do your best to have everything prepared beforehand.

Breakdown tasks into achievable portions. Scale down large ideas if you have to.

Based on how fast you work and how much time you have, set yourself goals that are achievable for the day. If you only have an hour to spend on your projects, it’s more reasonable to write one chapter instead of five. It’s better to output small amounts of work consistently than nothing at all. If time only permits you to draw a single comic panel for the day, then just do that. Don’t aim to draw five pages if you can’t work that fast. You’ll only discourage yourself when you don’t achieve your goals.

If you think your project is too big, don’t be afraid to scale it down. Turn it into bite-sized chunks so you have no issues completing it. If something is too much to handle, chances are, you’ll set it aside until you finally ‘have time’. No, break it apart, and do something now.

I’ve learned quite a lot from my time blogging and drawing Animal Bus. At my blogging ‘peak’, I would write five posts a week, that gradually slowed down to three, then two, and now once a week. To be fair, I was feeling the burnout and I was running out of ideas (I found myself repeating topics when writing drafts). I decided to cut down the amount of writing. This allowed me to spend more time writing longer pieces, something I enjoyed more, which resulted in higher quality posts (at least I think so haha).

When I started Animal Bus, I had a lot of free time. But as the weeks went on and I eventually launched the comic, I found myself with less free time. I couldn’t keep up the full-color vision I had for it. I decided to scale down with imperfect coloring. It still took too much time, so I switched to leaving it black and white. And now, it is manageable. I didn’t think I would be able to keep up with the weekly upload schedule, but since the downgrade to no colors, it hasn’t been an issue. In the future, if I want to color it, I can always go back.

Again, like the first point – the idea is to make things as easy as possible for yourself to turn it into a habit.

Reward yourself. You’re more inclined to finish off your work if you know you’ll enjoy yourself later.

This one is a no brainer. I usually tell myself that I can watch a show, play a game, or have a cigarette only after finishing a task. While it may sound stupid, it works. I trick myself into working for a reward all the time. If dogs can pull off tricks for treats, so can humans. Make sure you follow through and only reward yourself when the task is completed. If not, this method won’t be effective. Just like when a dog knows it can earn treats without doing tricks, it’ll be less inclined to do so – after all, why work for something when it can take the easy way out?


This ended up being longer than expected but hopefully, some of you find it helpful. If you have productivity tips of your own, feel free to share in the comments! I’m always looking to learn new tricks.

Shiver Me Timbers

Why isn’t it offensive to mimic a pirate accent? What even is the pirate accent? Did all pirates speak like that? Do pirates speak like that? Did they have the same accent but in different languages around the world? What was the origin of the pirate accent?

And just like every question I’ve asked in the past, it has already been answered.

Pirates didn’t speak the way we hear or read about in books or movies – they’re all a product of Hollywood. Mostly thanks to Disney’s first completely live-action film – Treasure Island (1950) starring Robert Newton. On another note, it’s amusing that Disney is still making movies glorifying pirates despite their strong stance against piracy.

According to reports, Newton decided to use an exaggerated version of his West Country accent for his character in the film, setting the stereotype for how pirates spoke back then. So you have him to thank for our perception of pirates.

West Country English is what people from the southwest of England spoke – not just pirates. Which makes sense since pirates came from all over the world, not only from England. It would be impossible for all of them to have the same accents (unless it was a rule they had to follow).

Do pirates today get offended by how they are portrayed in the media? Pirates are supposed to be tough nuts who don’t give a fuck about what people say, right? I did a quick search on modern pirates and it turns out that Four Year Strong resemble pirates more than they will ever be.

Somali pirates, photographed in 2012
When you’re holding guns, there’s no need to look fearsome.

Conclusion? What we know about pirates is the result of many years of Hollywood stereotyping. Like nerdy Asian kids, autistic savants, and Mexican drug dealers. No complaints here, I’m just looking forward to a pirates film with a sprinkle of Cthulhu magic, leviathans, and an easycore rendition of Bella Ciao. Come on, Álex Pina, you can do it!

Bad Beer Served Chilled

Ever wonder why drinks that are meant to be consumed at a certain temperature taste worse when they are not? I was thinking that to myself the other day when I left a cup of coffee on my desk because it was initially too hot to drink. I didn’t know the answer, so I did some googling. Today I learned that temperature can drastically affect the way a drink tastes.

If a drink is too hot or cold, the taste receptors in your tongue don’t work as well as they’re supposed to. This means, at extreme temperatures, you don’t taste the full flavor of whatever you’re putting into your mouth. You don’t taste the full bitterness of coffee or beer, which makes the drink more pleasant.

When your drink cools down or warms up to a more acceptable temperature, you can taste more of the flavors that make up the drink, making it more bitter or sweeter, and amplifying what it truly tastes like.

For coffee, this isn’t too bad. I enjoy the bitterness of a strong coffee even if it’s warm, but when it comes to beer, it always tastes terrible to me.

Turns out, I’ve been doing it wrong (or drinking the wrong beers). Apparently, bad beer is served cold so that it tastes palatable when you’re chugging it down. When it has warmed up, you can experience all of its flavors, which often brings up the comparison to piss. Good beer is supposed to be consumed at close to room temperature so that you can taste all of its flavors.

I haven’t had many beers at room temperature (not a thing here in Malaysia), but the next time I have something more premium or some craft, I’ll give it a shot warm. Won’t be anytime soon, but for now, I’ll make do with cold diet sodas and instant coffee until this Movement Control Order has been lifted.

The Case for Diet Soda

One thing I’ve noticed since switching to diet soda is that I get a lot more people chiding me for my drink of choice compared to back when I drank regular soda.

I get it, drinking either form of soda is unhealthy, there’s no need to tell me that. Plain water is always the better choice (sparkling ftw btw). It’s nice to have the taste of a sweet beverage on your lips every now and then. Like the occasional pint of beer I drink – funny how I never get any flak for that.

Anyway, I’m not here to change anybody’s minds about drinking diet soda – it’s like religion. People can drink or believe in whatever they want, just don’t force your preferences onto others. However, I do want to clear the air on the topic.

While doing some research for this post, I came across this video and it sums up everything better than I ever will (it even has sources):

If you don’t have 24 minutes to watch it, here’s the lowdown: consuming a safe level of Aspartame does not increase your risk for any disease. Don’t drink more than 24 cans of Diet Coke a day and you’ll be fine. So, you can stop spreading tales about how I’m going to die faster because that’s not trueThere’s no concrete evidence to say otherwise.

Also, as an active smoker, I can probably say that being killed by diet drinks is the least of my concerns.

For people arguing over how ‘natural’ foods are always going to be healthier vs something created in the lab – just because something is artificial doesn’t mean it’s bad for you. Whether something is made in a lab or found in the wilderness does not determine the safety of food substances. Perfectly safe substances can be made from toxic materials and vice versa. There’s also tons of shit out there not made in labs that are harmful to humans.

For the record, diet Dr. Pepper tastes like ass. It’s the only non-diet soda I drink these days. Occasionally I’ll drink a regular Coke or Pepsi when their sugar-free variants aren’t available, but I’ll usually order something else instead.

A Caffeinated Idea

The other day, I was thinking about certified baristas who don’t make coffee anymore due to a change in careers. Why not give them a place to practice and make some money on the side as well? Introducing: The Freelance Barista Cafe.

While I haven’t fleshed this idea out enough to be pitchable on Dragon’s Den (good show btw if you don’t watch it already) and have no experience running a cafe, hear me out.

This is a cafe with a twist. In addition to regular baristas manning the machines and making coffee, we will have open slots every day for freelance baristas who want to work on that day. The whole concept is similar to an open mic night – but instead of playing music, they get to make drinks instead. Baristas will be paid a fixed fee or a percentage of each cup they make (or maybe a combination of both).

Why would we want freelance baristas instead of just keeping permanent ones? Well, the idea is that we have a cafe for some baristas who may be in the country on holiday, and they feel like spending a day or two to show off their skills. We could have regular folks who have been practicing making coffee at home and feel like serving the public without committing to a full-time gig. Heck, we can have baristas who are just looking for a change of environment from their regular full-time jobs. Other kinds of baristas could be retired folks looking for a fix to their itch, and poorer folks who don’t have machines to practice with at home.

Pretty sure this isn’t a thing at the moment (or I didn’t Google enough) but it needs to be in a location where there are enough Baristas to keep it going. It also gives customers who frequent the cafe new drinks to order if they’re in the mood for something other the usual.

While we won’t be able to control the standard of the guest baristas, the permanent barista we have will always be there to serve our customers standard drinks when they’re not feeling adventurous.

One thing we’ll need to keep an eye out for are folks with malicious intentions – gotta make sure our baristas don’t try to poison customers or make awful drinks on purpose.

And that’s about as much thought I’ve given to the idea. Anyone reading this blog with deep pockets, feel free to turn this idea into a reality. Maybe give me free drinks when I visit?

Portfolio Launch

Did you know that writers have portfolios too? A few weeks ago, I didn’t. Crazy, huh? I thought portfolios were only reserved for artists and designers until I started seeing a lot of job descriptions requesting them. It made me do a Google search to find out there was such a thing as a writing portfolio. If you didn’t know too, you do now!

Since I don’t have a job yet, I figured that now would be the right time to create a portfolio so I can easily share it with any potential employers. Better late than never! Feel free to check it out – it’s open to the public. I’d love any feedback or suggestions on how I can improve it.

Mindful Smoking

Is that a thing? Probably not.

Earlier, while I was having a cigarette, I noticed that I put my fingers to my lips frequently – every time I took a puff, my digits touched my chops. Usually, this never bothered me – until today.

For some unknown reason, I started thinking about where my fingers had been – the buttons on the elevators, the lid on my post box, the money in my pocket. Not very hygienic considering the state of our world at the moment. So, I did what any sane person would do: I put my cigarette out and threw the remaining pack into the bin.

Just kidding, I didn’t do the latter. However, I decided that for the rest of the day I would vape since it wouldn’t require pointers touching my facial orifice. I’ll only smoke cigarettes when I have access to soap and water to clean my claws. I’m already putting tons of unknown variables into my cavity every time I use restaurant utensils, I can afford to reduce it by one. Am I naive to think that germs can’t travel from my finger to the button of my mod, and make their way up to the mouthpiece of my vape? Probably. But it makes me feel better and that’s what counts.

But George, why don’t you just give up the habit? I’m trying to ensure the ineffectiveness of my sperm – at least until I have a vasectomy (by the way any kind of smoking is bad for your fertility, not just menthol). Also, an interesting result came up while I was Googling factoids for this post. Did you know that hand sanitizer can kill sperm? It’s not recommended though.

Seeing posts about people panicking on my social media feeds is doing nothing but spreading the fear. At least mass gatherings are banned. People who don’t have to attend church anymore will realize how much more fun it is to sleep in on Sundays and to keep their hard-earned money for themselves. You don’t know how churches spend their money anyway.

I can’t wait for the lockdown, then I’ll get to jam with my neighbors. Would give me a reason to dust off my harmonica (if I can find it).

How Sicilians deal with the quarantine from PublicFreakout

On the bright side, most people are staying in and playing video games. It’s a great way to pass the time and there’s no physical contact. Skip LAN parties (RIP Geekfam after qualifying for the LA Major) and couch co-op, ya dingus.

I Am

Things were different in the past, now people care about my color.
At times I am a burden, other times I am a frill.
I can be specific or all-encompassing. I am ubiquitous.
You could live without me but it would be difficult.
Commonly found in the air or on the ground, above and under you.
People worry when I’m left alone in populated places.
You put in me things you trust. I try to keep them safe.


The other day I woke up with a dream where I wrote a riddle and I thought it was brilliant, I managed to save a line on my phone before going back to sleep. I thought I’d try to recreate it but it turns out that writing a clever riddle is harder than I thought. To write a clever riddle you have to skirt the line between being too obtuse or too obvious – something I haven’t mastered. In turn, doing this exercise made me appreciate the amount of work that goes into creating good riddles. Maybe I’ll attempt more in the future.

In case you didn’t figure it out already, I am a bag.

Labor Goals

Over the past few weeks, I’ve come to realize that looking for a job is like looking for a life partner (or maybe I’m just mashing two subjects together, who knows?).

In the past – people used to flip through classified pages to look for jobs – and to look for partners. While most of the searching has evolved to be online today, newspapers can still be used in the same way.

Life partners can be introduced to people – so can jobs. People set up friends with each other all the time, they do the same with jobs too. There’s no guarantee that they will fit well – but at least you can say you tried.

Head hunters function like matchmakers – seeking out potential candidates for companies or people to fall in love with.

Relationships can end out of the blue – like being let go from a job. The difference is you sometimes get compensated by the company.

Full-time jobs usually take up a significant amount of time – and so do relationships. If they don’t, it’s very cushy and you should keep it.

Some jobs give you money, and so do some relationships, but some relationships require you to spend money to keep them (though it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to equate that to working for no pay).

It’s not necessary to have either, but a good job or relationship will make your life much more pleasant.

Rejecting a job offer is usually the nail in the coffin with a company, which is similar to rejecting a partner. Sometimes it’s due to various circumstances a person can’t commit to either. Maybe it’s not the right time, maybe it’s not what they’re looking for right now. Sometimes you try again after a few years, there’s no telling if it’ll be better the second time. It could work or fail terribly.

When you find the right job or relationship – they say it doesn’t feel like work anymore. Everything just falls into place. You’re content, happy, and tell everyone about it. It’s all you’ve ever wanted in life.

However, people sometimes look for new jobs while currently employed and or companies come knocking with a seductive deal. There’s always a better option out there – right?