Tribolum.com Making Light of Things

July 2002 Archives

Desecration

It’s true that blogging has become a fad, and everyone and their dog seems to have one. Now that Guardian has put aside a thousand pounds for the “best British weblog”, even the cats are joining in.

Plasticbag.org’s Tom Coates has decided to boycott the competition, and I must say that the arguments between Tom Coates and Guardian’s Simon Waldman is pretty balanced. In a society where competition is prevalent, why should blogs be any different? After all, there are already the Oscars, the Tonys, the Emmys and so on.

However, the very nature of competition goes against that of blogging. Blogs exist to allow the layman or laywoman a voice to say whatever they wish. And to pit blogs against each other would destroy its very spirit.

Oh heck, I’m not British, and don’t qualify (or stand a chance) for the thousand pounds, which would have been a very welcome gift.

Read the email debate.

More Management Theory

For Cheryl again, whose test is now much closer than it was yesterday.

The topic of planning consists of many parts, but I believe that the most important (test-wise) thing is to be familiar with the steps in planning.

Steps in Planning

Let’s talk about choosing a school of higher education to attend, something you should be quite familiar with. You see the opportunities to go to one of these schools, as well as the improved opportunities you’ll get from having a diploma. You set up objectives for yourself. What sort of area you want to major in etc. You also develop planning premises – you assume that financial help or scholarships are available, or that you might have to work your way through school. Or that you might consider studying locally or abroad. There are different alternatives in every situation, and you’ll have to choose and evaluate among them. Then there are the minor details, so you have to come up with derivative plans (decisions you have to make that are a result of your wanting to attend a Polytechnic). For example, finding a job near the school, how to get to school everyday and so on. Then you have to put all the details down in numbers. This is the horrible step of doing simple budgeting etc.

So the steps in planning are these eight:

OOPADN. Where under A for alternatives there is determining the alternatives, evaluating them, and choosing one. So OOPADN, or Only One Person Always Does Nothing.

That’s a golden rule for managing groups not found in any management text.

Now zoom into the A of OOPADN. Alternatives. Determining what they are, evaluating them, and choosing them. This brings us into the next topic of Making Decisions.

A quick run through.

Decision Making

Narrow down the list of alternatives by looking at the few that tackle limiting factors. Limiting factors are things which stop you from choosing the best alternative to accomplish your goals. Those are things you want to solve first.

Evaluate among this list of alternatives. Many tools are used in modern day management to do this. Examples include marginal analysis and cost effectiveness analysis, both of which deal with quantifiable data. Experience, experimentation and research also help make these decisions.

There are programmed and unprogrammed decisions. Programmed decisions are ones that deal with routine problems. A computer can make these decisions because they are seldom unusual. Unprogrammed ones solve problems that are more complex, unstructured, and come up once in a while. People are paid big bucks to solve these problems.

I’m not sure how far further into the topic I need to go, but most of the stuff after this is purely memory work. Yeah, I HATE those.

Drop me a line if you need anything.

Moments

Sunlight bouncing off high-rise public housing in Marine Terrace, Singapore
Being a particularly soppy male, I know the state of my own heart, and I know it falls in love often. It falls in love with anyone who would show it love. It falls in love with noble acts and true, with the blueness of the evening sky, or the deep crimson of a petaled rose. I fall in love with the moment, where everything seems to blend into a harmonious chord that echoes into the depths of my being.

This evening’s sunset was beautiful. Unconventional, but beautiful. Its golden beams bounced off the many high-rise buildings that attempted to block its glory, creating a multifaceted gem that reflected a thousandfold.

Management Theory

For Cheryl, who has a test on Thursday.

I chose to put it up here because most web-based email clients do not support html tags, and I thought putting things down in a list would facilitate reading. Well, also because my email server just went down on me.

So Casandra, or anyone who knows Cheryl Ling and is reading this…please email, SMS, or tell her that this is online.

Instead of just vomiting out everything I can remember about the topics you specified, I’ll just lay the outline, most of which I think is further elaborated in the textbook. Unless, like some people, you didn’t buy the textbook. looks at Casandra.

The External Environment

Consists of the following: PETS

The Political and Legal environment deals with two things: Politics and Law (easy huh). The political aspect revolves around government policies and how they affect a normal business. Example, a policy of eco-friendliness would spell doom for the timber or sharkfin industry. The legal aspect deals with how prevailing laws restrict or protect the particular business. The Economic environment deals with things that directly affect the profit of the business. They are:
  • Capital
  • Labour
  • Customers
  • Price
  • Tax
You can easily remember these five headings by remembering this: Cheryl Ling Cannot Pass Tests, which is of course ironic, because if you remember this, you’re almost halfway there. The Technological environment covers how technolgy affects a business, that is, the benefits and problems they bring. If I recall there are a few categories that technological changes are classified under. Examples include the ability to generate more than ever before, the ability to cut down on transit time (freight costs go down), etc etc. The Social environment most revolves around beliefs, attitudes and values. It also deals with the expectations, education and customs of people in a given society.

Tell me if this is useful at all, and I’ll continue on the other two topics tonight. Oh, click on “Link this” to read this without all the sidebar and everything else.

An Arizonan Perspective

Much as I’d like populating my photolog with all the photos I want, I’ll be moving hosts soon (same domain) and wouldn’t relish having to shift too many large files.

So here’s a little taste of the Arizona Collection.

There are lots more to be had. Want to see them all?

Adolescence

To a fellow blogger, a friend, a younger sister, who once upon a time had her own little space.

I know that it hasn’t exactly been the easiest of times for you, and that we often become disillusioned under such adverse situations. It is much easier to just break out and do your own thing, forgetting all the hassle of being a “good” Christian, a hardworking student, or a fillial daughter.

Different influences are now available to you as you progress into the higher echelons of educational endeavour, some good, and others…not so good. It seems that every cell in your being wants to try out the life that you’ve been forbidden to for so long. You see other people your age having fun and living the high life, taking things one day at a time. No worries. No obligations. No responsibilities.

I know, because I’ve been there as well. Truth is, many of us have. It is important that we tell you this right now because your decisions today, right this moment, determine who you are, and who you will be. To be perfectly honest, I do not know what the “correct” choices are, because there just seems to be an endless myriad of possibilities. What I do know is this: Choose Christ.

If at any one point in your life you’ve been shown His light, cling on to it. For to him who has, much will be given, so the familiar saying goes. It is a very real possibility to lose the light that you’ve been given, tempting as it is to dabble in the fun things and then return later on.

Though I’d hate to be all preachy and sombre, I have to remind you, and all of us, that these are times when the darkness seems to suffocate all light. As a brother I would beseech you to choose wisely, and comfort you in the fact that my heart, and also many of ours, go with you.

Grow wisely, for He has shown you what is good and what He requires of you. To live justly, and to love mercy. And to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8).

We have love for you in our hearts. Even if it is from a distance.

Move

It wasn’t hard to choose between Alexia and Infinology to host Tribolum for another year. Saving money, freedom to dabble in SQL databases, free subdomains are only some of the perks that persuaded the move.

So bear with me as things start moving. On a dialup, things could get ugly.

Onward with Progress

We all knew it would happen. Scientific innovation is an unstoppable vehicle that ploughs down any obstacles that stand in its path. Someone, somewhere was going to clone a human being. Despite laws and questions regarding the venture’s moral fabric, someone jumped the red light and went on ahead anyway.

So a woman in South Korea claims to have a cloned baby in her womb, that will undoubtedly put her in the spotlight of scientific scrutiny for years to come. Many questions come to mind, and few have been answered, or even pondered on. Many of them of a spiritual, rather than a scientific nature.

I guess science has always struggled with the paradox. Staunch scientists refute the existence of anything spiritual simply because things of that nature are not quanitifiable by empirical methods. Yet they continually bank their knowledge on logic and mathematical constants, both of which they had no part in inventing. They tread by faith, yet mock those who would proclaim it aloud.

Will the child have a soul? A spirit? Did we create life, or just produced a bunch of cells that mimicked it?

Whatever we have produced, we have to love because we are talking about a real human being. If only we loved him or her enough to think long and hard before playing God.

Sunset on a Soccer Field in Tucson

Sunset after a soccer game in Tucson, Arizona
Sunset on a soccer field in Tucson, Arizona. If there’s something I miss most about Tucson, it’s the sunsets. This was taken right after a soccer game between Singaporeans and Koreans a few months ago. The scoreline was inconsequential. This, to me, was the main show.

Handy Cap

These past two weeks was quite the revelation as I coped with the limited use of my right hand. It’s still quite sprained, despite one visit to the doctor, two physiotherapy appointments, and a much lighter wallet.

I’ve been spending the last two months ferrying my Aunt to the hospital for acupuncture treatments, injections and the occasional chemotherapy session. Having seen so much of the hospital one gets a better observation of the difficulties people with physical disabilities have to deal with. A simple slope is no longer just a hassle, but turns into a pretty daunting mountain. We normal folk sometimes look upon them in pity, not truly fathoming the psychological struggle behind the visible physiological inabilities.

The inability to use my right hand, my dominant hand mind you, was quite the blow to me. I was unable to feed myself for the first two days, depending of Faith, bless her heart, to do the menial task of twirling my pasta for me. It was truly a humbling experience.

This injury came at a time I was having the most fun on the basketball court, having improved quite a bit over the past year. I know that the Lord wants to keep my pride in check, and it is ironic that the verse that comes to mind reads “Pride comes before a fall”. I never knew God to be so literal. But hey, it’s His right of expression, and I’m not arguing with that.

Somewhere in the book of Jeremiah I remember that it reads “Cursed is the man who makes strength his arm”.

I have none left, and I feel very vulnerable, totally dependent, and truly blessed.

A Walk in the Park

I’ve been taking loads of photos these past few days. I took a bunch at Millenia Walk, Suntec City and the surrounding areas. I’m currently posting the Millenia Walk ones in my photolog. Tell me if you like it…or not. It’ll be nice to get some feedback after all the work.

Here’s the Millenia Walk Collection.

Black Sheep and Skeletons

You find one or two in every family. That distant relative that no one ever talks to anymore because of something he or she did that was totally unacceptable. No one remembers the real story anymore, but the smell of disgust is still fresh, like the taste of raw carrion after a kill. They don’t attend family functions, and aren’t invited to weddings. Or maybe your family has a grey sheep or two. Those whom everyone speaks of in a negative light. They are described by the more vocal family members as obnoxious, vain, troublesome, heartless and such. If you have neither black nor grey sheep in your family, look carefully in the mirror - you may be it.

As a child I never could understand how family relations could degrade to the extent of lifelong begrudging. How can people who used to share family life hate each other to the point of wanting absolutely nothing to do with each other for the rest of their lives? Some of these grudges even carry on through multiple generations.

Now, years later and arguably none the wiser, I see that it is not hard to change the colour of one’s fleece. As one grows older, familial obligations and responsibilities get heavier. This is especially true in an Asian household, where children are expected to care for their parents upon coming of age. One wrong judgement call…one exchange of bitter words…one bad case of pre/post/perpetual menstrual stress and you find yourself on the wrong end of the popularity polls.

A crude mathematical formula is as follows:

Magnitude of selfish act x size of witness’ mouth = P(black)

where P(black) is the probability of you becoming a black sheep forever.

Forgiveness people. We need forgiveness. I can’t even begin to fathom how many families would be healed, and how many lives would be enriched if we were able to give each other the benefit of the doubt, or believe in the almost almighty power of perpetual menstrual stress.

Instant Culture

The cellular phone has become a necessity in many of our lives. Its convenience is much longed for, but its swift inclusion has changed our lifestyles and killed many a good thing.

With the instant communication it offers, there is little need to adopt a habit of punctuality. Meeting times are changed on the fly, often with a quick SMS (short messaging service) informing the other party that you’ll be running late. Though it saves the punctual person from wasting time, it does away with the need for integrity of word. Things can be changed simply because it is convenient to.

In the times way before our own, in the days when martial arts heroes would duel for the right to be top dog of the martial arts universe, they would duel with their most powerful adversary, then arrange to meet ten years later for another bout. Ten years later, they would show up in the predetermined place for their showdown.

Ok, so Chinese martial arts novels aren’t exactly a collection of historical fact. But we looked up to these values once upon a time.

When Faith (my fiancé) got herself a cell, there was a change in the way we interacted. There’d be times when I was talking whilst driving and she’d take out the blasted gadget and begin typing in a short text message. She doesn’t do that anymore.

In our ten years together, we always had a set time at night to talk to each other. Whether I was working in Chicago or home in Singapore, we’d speak on the phone at ten o’clock at night Singapore time. I liked the security of such an arrangement, and even to this day I still make it a point to always be there.

Used to a lifestyle of instant communication, she now calls me whenever she wants to. I find myself unable to adapt to the concept of short brief phonecalls, preferring to lay on my bed for a hearty exchange. The intermitten calls disrupt my lifestyle, and I have often found myself more irritable than I would have liked to be.

I wish some things could stay the same. I like to sail my boat slow and steady.

The Lights Past Bedtime

A store display outside Tangs Shopping Center, Singapore
A store display outside Tangs Shopping Center, Singapore. There is something magical about shopping in Singapore. It is probably because shopping is a large part of life here. The bustle of the city goes on late into the night, and that is something that I miss a lot when I’m away.

Fleeting

It just occurred to me that I’ve exactly one month before flying back to Tucson. It is the most intriguing feeling of ambivalence. It almost seems like my flying back there is a return into the embrace of an old friend, and a life where I am able to make my own choices. What to eat, where to eat, when to eat. Ok, so my life does revolve around food now that my wrist is busted and I’m trying hard to refrain from playing basketball and injuring it further.

There are so many things I still hope to do. At the back of my mind, I know that my current state of lethargy will see none of it done, and that I need to step up and be more proactive. I’d like to meet many of you while I am still able to.

Vaya, Biscotti, Sheryl…you guys free anytime soon?

Geisthund, heard you’re back in Singapore for the holidays. Drop me an email?

Thoughts at a Wedding

I realised today at your former classmate’s wedding that part of me doesn’t want to marry you, because if I did I wouldn’t be able to take photographs of you and me for our wedding album. There is so much beauty when two people come together that I feel my heart pulsate thinking about how to fully capture the moment. Though images are formed and words flow fast, they are scarce able to describe the vast intricacies of the moment. Its many facets shine brightly, revealing beauty upon beauty, and loveliness trickles tangibly like dew on a blade of grass. I want to chronicle all this on the day of your wedding.

Yet another part of me wants to be the one standing next to you, holding your hand as you nervously grasp mine. I feel the heat of your hand through the lattice of your gloves. I want to look into your eyes and speak the vows uttered so many times in the solace of my heart. I want to start a home and family with you, not by the strength of my own character or arm, which are both fallible, but by God’s strength. Strength that endures, and love that never fails. I half fear that my own weakness and shortcomings will rob you of the happy life I wish for you, but I want it to be me. I want you to be with me. At your wedding.

At our wedding.

Inhouse Lighthouse

Having had a short break from being chauffeur, I took tonight off as fiancé and spent a little time with my sisters.

It has been a while since I looked upon them, especially so with the younger. In my time away from home she has grown almost as tall as Mom, and though the rugged tomboyishness still shows, glints of feminity have begun to reveal themselves.

In so many ways she is the brother I never had. Where the older of the two (I have two younger sisters) was the ballet-dancing, facial-going kind, the younger plays basketball, much to my delight.

Have I told you that she just had her ears pierced? It was hilarious a few moments ago when she sat at the mirror for close to two hours trying to put her earring back in. As the lighting wasn’t bright enough, she resorted to holding a torchlight in one hand whilst attempting to spear her ear. She refused to have anyone help her for fear we inflict multiple lacerations upon her already slightly infected earlobe.

The torchlight in her hand was one of those newfangled ones. You know, the type that is shaped like a card and lights up when you squeeze it. In her two hour attempt (she didn’t succeed) she must have sent pages upon pages of morse code.

I’ll be returning to Tucson in a month, for a final year there. I’ll miss watching her grow up.

Shylock's Shoes

It is sad that our society pays pittance to the more noble occupations, whereas dishonest corporate ladder climbers are rewarded handsomely. Social workers and teachers are amongst the most overworked and underpaid people around.

Having played chauffeur this past two months, I can better empathise the cost of a life spent toiling for the “greater good”. Though I deem myself as less materialistic than the average joe, it still stings a little when I see my contemporaries bring home the spoils of a normal paying job - often in the form of new clothes or fancy gadgets I wish I could have.

It is not easy keeping one’s eye on the greater good - something so intangible. Its ethereal nature pales when we place it beside the more visible. Its light shines bright when our aim is true, and it is then we know that its all been worth it.

The fear that we’ve been deluding ourselves strikes at our heart. We breathe, and hold our hand steady once more.

Comfort

He stood there. The world seemed silent to him, as if the moment had decided to defy time and stay a little longer. He had waited so long and so hard for this, and now coming face to face with reality…he was lost. Yes his heart cried. No words came out of his mouth.

He had lived with the pain for far too long to leave its grasp. Where once he might have considered it freedom, this freedom now came to him as fear and trepidation. There was a security that came with this pain. Its companionship was something he had learnt to depend on, something that was constant. Faithful. Reliable. He wasn’t going to trade it for anything less. The loss of this steadfast friend was a cost too high to pay for something as unsure as her.

He had paused for too long. She had already turned away, for to her the answer was found in his silence. He closed his eyes and lay his head on the bosom of his old friend. He wept. His friend understood.

Light in the Storm

Rainbow at East Coast Park, Singapore

Being in the tropics means totally unpredictable weather. The clouds formed and torrents fell all within a matter of minutes. In the hustle and bustle of it all, nature showed us a little bit of God’s glory, and a reminder of an old promise.

Literary Concoction

As useful as a solar-powered torchlight.

Phrase often used to denote the effectiveness of a President’s tenure in office, or to describe a bright idea brought forth by a pure academic.

One of my many self-created phrases. Use it, and pay homage.

Who's Smiling

An art survey not too long ago ranked the Mona Lisa as the world’s most popular piece of art. She (not it) has managed to somehow creep past the barriers that divide high culture from pop culture, and her visage has made it way to our mugs, wallpaper and shower curtains. She has transcended even beyond her creator, and arose as a cultural icon not only for art, but for feminity, and the enigma associated with this mysterious half of humanity.

The reasons behind her smile will remain a mystery to us forever. The slightly upturned lips, and the tiniest of creases at the corners of her eyes - the smallest hint of a smile. In the Fukien dialect of the Chinese language, it is best described as ahm chio, literally translated as smiling in darkness. A secret smile if you will. It seems as if she knows something about you, and isn’t likely to tell you what it is. Maybe it’s the mayonaise that’s on your nose from the sandwich you had for lunch. Or how big a fuss you’re making over what was essentially a small facial spasm.

Many others are of the belief that she isn’t smiling at all. It is highly possible too that she, like many rich brats we know, smiles the obligatory smile in all manner of reluctance.

Smile or no smile, the small gesture when juxtaposed with the stark grey mountains in the background shine forth like a candle in the darkness, and many have learnt to find joy in Da Vinci’s girl.

Youth. Betrayal. Evil. Rebirth.

Having received an original copy of Warcraft 3 from my beloved, plans for photolog and programming endeavours are swept aside.

Her gift of love is bliss. My gift is restraint. A moral dilemma.

No Laughing Matter

Though having flown many times round the earth, the novelty of flying has yet not died on me. I still step into a plane full of anticipation, and being thrust into the back of my seat is quite the exhilarating experience. Don’t read too much into the last sentence.

One of the most hilarious things about the whole business of flying is the number of sordid faces you see around. Everyone seems to have their poker face on, and at times the tension in air is high enough to cause an aneurism. To alleviate the awkwardness and lighten the mood, I often use humour to cheer myself, and the people around me up. It’s an automatic response. Airplane, humour. They go well together.

That is until a woman passenger headed to Tucson (of all places) was arrested for cracking what I thought was a pretty good joke.

I’ll try my best to stifle my laughter when I fly back to beloved Tucson this August. I promise.

Photolog Tips

Jeremy’s Photolog in 5 Steps is interesting. It’s not five steps, but it’s interesting.

Greener Grass

Sitting here at a cybercafe brings back happy memories of broadband magic. Sure, the LCD screens here are a tad too small and its colour reproduction sucks, but I’ll take the raw speed anyday.

Oh wait…there’s a Warcraft 3 icon on the desktop…

Health Update

After my second appointment with the doctor, I’m happy to report that I didn’t fracture my wrist. It’s just a really bad sprain. The best news I’ve heard so far is that I’ll be out of action for only a week. Or about a week. That’s about as long as I can endure without hitting the basketball courts ala Yang Guo (a one-armed swordman in a famous Chinese novel).

The physiotherapy session was pretty long-drawn. They attached electrodes to my wrist and zapped it for fifteen minutes, ran an ultrasound to facilitate healing, dumped an icepack on it after a round of rigourous massage.

Nope. Still can’t move it. I feel tempted to hit the courts today, but male stupidity trembles at the prospect of really fracturing it and being out a whole year.

CyberDiet

Mark’s 30 Days to a more accessible weblog is an absolute must-read for you bloggers out there. It lists down simple steps you can take to make life so much easier for many surfers out there. Great job Mark!

Face to Face

International Blog Meet Up Day, Singapore. Not sure if it’s a great idea leaving the security of obscurity, but I signed up just for the heck of it. At least I know I can hide behind Vaya if things turn sour.

One of Our Own

The news of Gene Kan’s suicide came as a shock to many of us. He was one of the few shooting stars whose toying around shaped the very world we live in. Gnutella, which he played a large part in developing, pierced the heart of the entertainment industry by bringing music, sight and sound to the many of us who would not have been able to afford the homage required by these multimedia giants.

A look into his personal blog would undoubtedly touch our hearts - he was one of us. He is not some faraway character who had aspirations of global domination. His penned thoughts reflect our own.

Generation X. We are full of pain and woe. The weight of the world falls upon our shoulders. Used like batteries in a toy train. Java, HTML, C…the languages we speak are the arms, the means by which things can be accomplished in this present age and time. We would much rather play around with these technologies the same way a child would play in a sandbox, but the greed of those in our parents’ generation enslave us. They drive us. They push us over the edge.

Damn their greed.

Lend Me a Hand

When the University of Arizona played the University of Illinois last season, the Fighting Illini fouled Arizona players a record 56 times, or somesuch number. I should have seen this coming.

Wearing a pair of grey shorts with Arizona boldly emblazoned on the side I headed to the local basketball court. There was a large Caucasian wearing an Illinois jersey. After a short round of shooting we proceed to the normal pickup game of two on two.

Barely twenty minutes into the game it happened. I got the ball, dribbled it once and went up strong for a left handed layup. The Illini (whose name I do not know) decided to block my shot, the only obstacle between him and the ball being my entire body. He decided to phase through my body ala Kitty Pryde (X-men #something).

In what seemed like an eternity, bodies flew in the air and I was thrown under this rather heavy individual. Bearing the weight of us both was my hand, which already had been injured years before by an unreasonable army sergeant. It snapped.

Couldn’t move it. Tried shooting. Nope. Oh whaddaheck. We were up 8-1. There’s still the left hand.

Arizona 11 Illinois 1.

A silly grin on my face, I beam at the moral victory. Male stupidity has triumphed over good old common sense.

I put the pain aside and played two more games.

Power Pooped Boy

Words can’t even begin to describe how drained I feel. I’ve been doing the chauffeuring thing the whole of today and I can almost emphatise with the anal-retentive way cab drivers traverse the streets. I say almost, because they still do agitate the heck outta me.

I guess my dream of being a chauffeur is all but thoroughly smashed. Not exactly the height of human ambition, I suppose. It’s largely influenced by the movie Sabrina, of which I am a swooning fan.

Sabrina tells her dad who’s a chauffeur, that the thing she liked most about him was that he chose to be a chauffeur so that he had time to read.

I’m still enchanted by the movie, and maybe even stupidly so. The job of ferrying people around, coupled with having to deliver documents would have been bearable were it not for the culture of the road. Out there it is every man for himself, every woman for herself. And if you should be an unfortunate victim of subpar driving, just scream, shout or mutter “…woman driver…” and be on your way, whether or not you be anatomically correct.

I’m glad I’m writing now though. It helps me regain my sanity. Thanks for listening.

Only a World Away

Warcraft 3 has hit me. The game was released with fanfare a few days ago, but I’ve managed to allay its effect on me, using every bit of resolve. Three whole days.

Having discovered the wonder of the original Warcraft many years ago, standing beside the gargantuan displays promoting Warcraft 3 brought back so many memories. Rearing wolves and horses and storming down the hillside with a battallion of armour-clad knights…stuff dreams are made of.

My heart shudders with excitement reliving these memories in my mind. The prospect of two new races and revisiting old characters spurs my hand to hold one of the cellophane-wrapped boxes in a vice-like grip. I read into my pocket for my wallet. It is then I remember that I’m dead broke.

Being a full-time chauffeur for my favourite third Aunt on Dad’s side has its privileges, but the monetary remuneration isn’t all great. The rewards are much better of course. Her smile lights up my life.

I place the box down, heart still palpitating, saliva still in overdrive. Maybe some other day, Thrall and Brozebeard. We’ll meet again.

Eat Your Salary

An interview with Singaporean celebrity Fiona Xie probed into her relationship with fellow celeb Robin Leong. Fiona was quoted as saying,

“We’ve grown in affection for each other. I’m infected with him, he’s infected with me,”

Hope it’s nothing a shot of penicillin won’t cure, Fiona.

Unbridgeable Differences

BBC is currently broadcasting a debate on the conflict in the Middle East between senior Israeli and Palestinian representatives. Though a tad long, it goes beyond being highly informational as one cannot help but feel the emotion emanating from these parties personally involved.

It is curious that two of the world’s oldest (arguably) civilisations would fight tooth and nail over the top of what is essentially a hill. To narrow down the point of contention even further, the argument revolves around a rock that stands atop the hill.

Most people would be inclined to shake their heads at what would seem to be a trivial thing to die for, but when we explore the deep religious and cultural implications built over many generations, we begin to see how this debate is far from reconcilable.

Though I’m not familiar with the Islamic point of view, the Temple Mount, known as Haram Al-Sharif to the Muslims, is the very spot in which the original temple of Jerusalem was located. Within it stood the rock which the ark of the covenant (holding the Ten Commandments) was assumed to have stood upon. The Muslims believe that the rock was the one upon which Abraham was called to sacrifice his son Ishmael.

The Christians believe that that very hill is where Jesus will first plant his feet upon His second coming. The Bible also states that the Temple will be rebuilt before His arrival. Though passive, many Christians are watching carefully to see how the Temple will come into being, fulfilling one of the final of many prophecies.

Like I stated previously, my knowledge of Middle-Eastern affairs is very limited, so if I have misquoted facts do correct me when or if I’m wrong.

The Electronic Ties that Bind

Attended the wake of an online friend’s father tonight with a few other online friends. There is the need for distinction between online friends and normal friends because online friends often remain faceless and at best trivial acquaintances. The level of intimacy one could establish online meant as much as a colon followed by a bracket.

Today we gathered not as words on the screen, but as fellow human beings who found the need to share whatever strength, whatever life that was in us. It was nice to know that the cold robotic interface from which our friendships were formed did not hinder the warmth of true human relationship.

We stood true tonight.

Of Birds and Men

While walking out to buy lunch I saw a group of mynahs (small black birds found everywhere in Singapore) standing around in a circle making the loudest din. They puffed themselves up and stood as tall as they could in what was apparently an effort to secure leverage of some kind.

We, though non-feathered, hold meetings like that every other day.

The Long and Short of IT

Minli was carrying a book entitled

Anthropologistic Perspective on Missionalistic Issues

I think I got the title right. Not sure if it’s just me, but that’s a mouthful of syllables. I look at the books on my table…

XML … PHP

Just coded my first PHP program tonight. Woopee. It generates the layout for the calendar you see on the right in CSS. The program reeks of amateurism, but I’m not going to look for some serendipititious solution.

Polarities

Part of my aunt’s treatment for her cancer revolves around acupuncture. It has come a long way since its traditional roots, and now utilises electricity-induced needles and other contemporary household appliances. Oh, and magnets. Don’t forget the magnets.

My aunt has tiny magnets taped on various points of her body, some to alleviate headaches and stress, and others to help keep her immune system up and running. I’m not a non-believer. There are far too many things our miniscule efforts at medical and scientific research have yet to discover. I do wonder, though, that if magnets can help a person’s health, an MRI (magnetic-resonance imaging) must be majorly messing up people’s well-being everywhere.

After her short acupuncture session we went to have lunch at a small mall. Must have been the work of the magnets, but my aunt tore off on a shopping spree. She went into every jewellery store to window-shop, browsed through the children’s toy section for birthday gifts, past, present or future. Clothes. Men’s, women’s, teens, babies.

Being a member of the male populace, shopping is a high-stress activity. Some study not too long ago discovered that shopping has the same physiological effect on males as flying combat aircraft at high-speeds. The trip to the carpark seemed at times like a quest to carry an extremely powerful magnet through a maze made of iron.

Almost there….WHAP! Sidetracked again.

The trick, gentlemen, is to loosen up. Flying a high-speed aircraft can be stressful or exhilarating, just as a ride on a roller-coaster can be. It is a conscious choice.

After what seemed like decades of incessant torture, I chose. I got involved.

mmm…that’s not as nice as the other one…the lines on this watch…interesting.

About two hours and four shopping bags later, we stood at the lift to the carpark, the end of the maze, the holy grail.

Hey, we didn’t get a look at Levi’s, I thought.

A Backstage Pass

My youngest sister had her ear pierced not too long ago. It is interesting to have an inside look at what seems to be a coming of age for her. How she fiddles with changing earrings in sheer trepidation.

She’s the tomboy of the family, much to my heart’s content. Being an only son, there is no one to play basketball with, or share the “rougher” activities. The middle sibling behaves as a lady’s lady would, shunning most forms of physical exertion. This girl, on the other hand, is willing to fall asleep in her sweat. Gross, I know, but I smile at the lack of fear she has for dirt and grit.

The piercing of the ear is a small milestone. A turning point if you will. It won’t be long before the makeup comes in. The nail polish, lip gloss…the works. I can’t quite see it now, and I don’t know how to react if it should happen suddenly, but it is an interesting chain of events.

I’m just glad I have the opportunity to be here and observe the small things that will make up her life.

Baby Chicks

When dealing with children it is ever so important to be aware of how much pressure we apply on them. Due to their very nature they often bring out the worst in us. Even those amongst us with more than a fair share of patience encounter times when those reserves are found lacking. It is at these moments we blast out with full force, because we have given up hope that anything would make an impact anyway.

Children are like eggs. Apply pressure slowly, and nothing ever seems to give. Though we’d much rather have a more pliable material in our hands, eggs just seem totally unmoldable. How then are we to shape the “leaders of tomorrow”?

Children are like eggs. They aren’t meant to be molded by our imperfect hands. Soap operas do nothing but remind us that we’re screwed up. Trying to make these children anything like us would be an exercise in sadism. They are like eggs - meant to be warmed, cradled, and allowed to grow.

We have the responsiblity of exposing them to warmth - the more noble and admirable aspects of human existence. The rest is pretty much up to God.

The First

One within our small circle of friends held her wedding last Saturday. She is the first among us to move unto the next step, so to speak.

It didn’t seem too long ago when we were all fresh-faced teenagers merely trying to get from one school holiday to the next. How fast life sweeps us off our feet!

There is a certain distance that comes with change, and I’ve grown to accept it as part of life. The acceptance of this inevitable fact is a sad thing we acquire on our way to adulthood. It is not the result of personal growth, but rather a resignation, an admission of defeat that we eventually lose what once we as children held dear.

It is a paradox of sorts - Friendship’s seemingly transient nature is intertwined with childlike resilience. The eternal pacts we make as children live on forever in our hearts, but not in the same tangibility in which we forged them.

Some of us allow ourselves to be troubled by its fleeting substance, while some others place all hope in its resolve, but the key to understanding friendship lies in neither extremity nor its midpoint - it is found when we stand both perplexed and hopeful.

Error Checking

I finally moved my main content blog to Moveable Type. Much as I would have liked to remain loyal to Blogger which freed my initial slavery to the dreaded manual updating process, the constant errors with regards to archiving were a tad too much for me to handle.

I’ve changed the way some things are presented and the manner in which data is handled. Do inform me if you find any errors while surfing through Tribolum.

Once in a Blue Moon

I’m not one who buys clothes every time a sale is on. Frankly, I can’t remember the last time I went shopping for clothes. Much of my wardrobe consists of clothes handed down by relatives who fall victim to the middle-age paunch.

This morning I put on my seven-year old Osh Kosh jeans purchased during my job stint in Chicago and head to church. I did the usual Sunday activities of playing with the toddlers and so on. It wasn’t until lunchtime when a mother spoke those magic words:

“It’s clear to see you don’t wear boxers.”

There was a rip about five inches long running sideways on my right cheek (not the one on my face). This flaw in fabric could have sparked a Protestant parallel of the Catholic child-molestation scandals were I still physically in America.

Here home in Singapore where people know me better, it just results in embarassment.

I guess some people now know me a little better than they would have liked.

First Date

I remember our first “date” well though it was almost a decade ago. I asked if I could go with you to make the bus-pass you lost. We had to travel to Buona Vista MRT Station, and it was a long way from the East where we stayed. Not long enough. I can’t remember what we spoke about, or if I was funny and made you laugh. We saw a pelican that day, and you seemed impressed that I could recognise it. I remember it being brown and large. Frankly, pelicans are hardly native to Singapore and I hope I didn’t make a mistake. You were beautiful that day, though you might argue that green wasn’t exactly your colour.

I’m glad you lost your bus-pass. I had waited four years for that day.

Hand Delievered Breakfasts

Campbell's Mushroom SoupThere’s something magical about early mornings. Back when you were in Junior College, I woke up at four-thirty in the morning and made you the best breakfast I knew how. Mushrooms, cheese and spices between two slices of toast. I spread a thin layer of Campbell’s mushroom soup to give it a little saltiness. The fifteen minute walk was fueled by the anticipation of your smile upon receiving my little gift to you. And smile you did. I never guessed that having the same sandwich every morning for a month or two might be tedious because you always smiled. Back home, people were wondering why open cans of mushroom soup were always found in the refrigerator.

I've Got Time

You asked me the time very many years ago. I went home smiling: “you asked me the time”. I might have misinterpreted it - “you, me, for all time”. I was twelve and my heart heard things my ears didn’t. That same night you gave me a piece of candy as well. I still have it somewhere in a shoebox where I’ve kept all these things all these years. I’m not about to commit suicide by eating it anytime soon, but I look at it and it brings a smile to my face. Those were the small things that kept me going.

First Movie

Fern Gully - The Movie The first movie I watched with you was Fantasia. Well ok, we weren’t exactly alone in a group of about ten friends but it felt special. The very first one we watched alone was Fern Gully at the old Cathay cinema. We walked past the Orange Julius downstairs and you stopped me from buying you an orange juice there because you thought it was too expensive. I would have paid almost any price for your company, but it was your simple down-to-earth nature that made me marvel at you all the more.

In Hope

There’ll come a day when things will be different. There’ll be fewer phone calls from me. I won’t chat with you over the Internet as much, or send you as many emails.

I’ll no longer be on the other side of the phone because I’ll be on the same side you are. I won’t be typing instant messages to you because I’ll be hugging you from behind as you type. I’ll be there, as your husband.

There won’t be any more need for goodbyes or see-you-laters. But there are some things which I don’t want to give you less of. I still want to write you letters with my own hand, or ask you how you are when I see you. I don’t ever want to stop telling you how much I thank God for you.

Marriage Plans

We’ve waited a long, long time to get married. Ten years. The past month or so our dreams came closer to their realisation, with us discussing the possibility of getting married over the summer when I got home. My heart thumped with anticipation. Sure, I was a little frightened, but the thought of me starting a new life with you was nothing short of exhilarating. We’d get the paperwork done, and hold the church wedding when I could afford it. Maybe a year later. I’d legally be your husband, and you’d be my wife. I’ve waited so long for this. I could almost taste it.

After praying about it we came to the conclusion this morning that having the church wedding and legal paperwork together would somehow be more pleasing to God. There was a greater sense of peace that came with this decision, and at the same time it was a source of pain. It would mean that we’d have to wait at least another year. At least.

Even though the dashing of the hopes we held these few weeks proved painful, it feels good that we are willing to do what is right in His eyes above our own wants. Your willingness to submit to God only reaffirms my determination to marry you some day. Thank you for not being bitter about having to wait, even though I know that it’s as hard on you as it is on me. On so many levels, I know what the Lord must feel like waiting for His bride to be ready for His reappearing.

I want our marriage to be perfect - a small reflection of how Christ loves His church.

A Small Companion

I remember the time you went to New Zealand. I was twelve then. I remember it well because you didn’t come to church those two Sundays. Till then, it never occurred to me how much seeing you meant to me. I know that you didn’t have feelings for me, or even give me a second glance, but it was such a joy to be able to see you, even if it was for those few precious seconds. Though it sounds almost heretical, seeing you sort of gave me strength to last through the week ahead. I would endure the next six days, till I saw you again.

So it was no wonder those two weeks seemed the longest of my life. The initial shock of your disappearance was slowly overcome by a dull ache and a feeling of loss. I didn’t know how to handle not being able to sneak in my weekly furtive glances. Then came the knowledge that my agony would last not one week but two. TWO WHOLE weeks. That almost killed me. The pain was almost too much for my twelve year old heart to take.

Years later, after we got together, your family embarked on another vacation. You gave me the house keys so that I could feed Hammy (the house hamster) every day. It had been a long time, but the same feelings came back, this time stronger. I stayed over at your house some nights, looking at the sea. We had so many night time chats at that window, often gazing at the stars and watching the ocassional plane glide by. Hammy was the recipient of my nighttime rants of how I missed having you around. He would have made a pretty good therapist where he still around today. He listened.

Thank you for calling a few moments ago. Not talking to you last night made me miss you. You should have seen the smile I had on my face when my sister said the call was for me. Hearing your voice I pressed my ear closer to the earpiece, and I was almost sure I was close enough to smell your hair. I’ll be back for summer. I can hardly wait.

Brotherhood

To my sister with whom I am enjoined not by blood but by Life.

It has been a long time since we’ve sat down and spoken, and I really treasured what we had tonight. I was reminded of how much you meant to me, and even though I don’t often show it, your presence lights up my heart.

Things have changed since our childhood days. As life would have it we no longer have time to write each other long, detailed letters sharing the inner workings of our heart and mind. These days we seem almost to busy to even share - be it by speech or by sheer affection, whether implicit or explicit. I often look at you from a distance and allow myself the luxury of nostalgia. Someone older and wiser once said that the more things change, the more they stay the same. I feel that when I look upon you. Despite all that you’ve grown to be these years, I am comforted in the knowledge that I know you deep inside, and the young girl is still very much alive in you even today.

The prospect of not being able to see you looms over us as you plan to begin a life on foreign soil, and it weighs heavily on me. Though I know that there exists an affinity that transcends beyond the physical presence, its ethereal nature provides little solace. I know that my reaction is a sort of selfishness and that I should be enthusiastic for you.

I know that I will miss you in the time when you are gone. In this time whilst you are still here, I will treasure you.

And for all times, I love you.

So Far Yet So Near

No one said it would be easy. The physical distance. The new environment I would be in. Unable to see your face or hear your voice half as much as I would have wanted. We both thought it would get easier with time, but frankly, we both agreed that it has gotten harder. I miss you so much that it hurts. Were the choice mine, I’d fly back and forget the whole quest for education that I had come here to pursue.

I feel terrible for making you wait so long, and I hope you know that I want to marry you so much. I thank God continually that you’re in my life, and I don’t ever want to have to be away from you. It is still not easy, and we can only rely on God’s grace to see us through the remaining year ahead.

I love you. Can’t wait for you to get home so I can call you.

Phone Habits

It’s amazing isn’t it? We’ve spoken to each other on the phone for every night the last almost ten years now. Well, except for times when it was impossible to, or when we were out together. I can’t imagine talking to anyone that much, but somehow we always have things to talk about. We’ve grown a lot over these years, and I guess we have to continually make sure we grow in the same direction. A decade worth of phone calls - that’s a lot of ten cent coins. Even now my heart still jumps with anticipation at your call.

The time you fell asleep on the other side of the line was hilarious. You zonked out on me and woke up only three hours later. I didn’t want to be rude and hang up on you - something which I never ever want to do. You mumbled things ocassionally during the three hours and I’d tell you to put the phone down, only to be met with some irrelevant answer that must have originated from the depths of your beautiful dreams.

I don’t ever want to hang up. Well, except for when I need a loo break.

Ring the Wrong Number

Getting you a ring was hardly a surprise gift - I’m pretty sure back then you knew it was coming, but not when. The less than subtle hints were picked up of course, and being your wonderful boyfriend, I had to pretend that it didn’t penetrate my thick skull, and at the same time make plans to get the ring, and fast.

I finally saved up enough for a simple ring and headed down to Parkway Parade. After some deliberation, I got you the platinum ring you now wear on your finger. I wanted our relationship to be Christ and God-centered and had picked the Bible verse to engrave upon it. Thanks to my apparent lack of Bible knowledge, I headed to Scripture Union bookstore (which is no longer there) to borrow the concordance. The verse I had intially wanted was

“Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind” - Luke 10:27

I just wanted to engrave Lk 10:27 on the inside of the ring, but I thought Lk didn’t look very nice. Searching the concordance and hoping to find the same thing in another gospel, I found Matthew 12:37. Now Mt 12:37 looked better than Lk on any good day. I went up to the jeweller and had it done. My love for you, and the direction I had wanted for the both of us was now set in stone.

When I gave you the gift you wondered about the verse and decided to check the Bible to see what it meant. I wanted you to realise that no matter how close we became, God always had to have the first place in our lives and our hearts. You then had a puzzled look on your face and read the verse

“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” - Matthew 12:37

I sat there stunned, checked it out for myself….the reference is correct. Apparently the concordance had tons of data in little tiny fonts and I had hit the wrong line. And it was set in stone. You looked at my dismay and smiled. You then said, “well, it’s a good reminder anyway”.

My heart pumped with warm blood. You didn’t blame me or ridicule me then. In that moment my heart lay bare and upon it was engraved “God loves me” and its evidence was to be found in your eyes. Eyes that held no bitterness or loss, and in the silent solitude of my heart I hugged you.

Thank you for loving me so much dearest. I love you too, even if I mess up every now and then.

Missing You Here and Now

Listening to Air Supply isn’t exactly the smartest thing to do but I do it anyway. I miss you, right now, right here. I know these pages are meant to be ones of memories and times past but I just want to thank you for everything that you’ve been to me all this time.

Seashells on the Seashore

We picked shells along the beach back in 1989. We watched the sunrise almost everyday for a week. I don’t remember us talking much, but I remember you - how close you were. I fell in love with you back then. That was the definitive moment it happened. Immediately after the Church camp you acted like it all never happened. I didn’t know what to think, or what to believe. The two bags of seashells I had in my cupboard were proof, and your imprint upon my heart smelt of the seaside breeze blowing through your hair. It seemed almost a different place and time. Almost a different person.

I made a small necklace out of those seashells some years later. I remember threading them together and hoping that it’d stir up some memories within you. Now when I walk along the beach with you and smell the breeze through your hair I remember those days. I remember the girl I fell in love with so long ago. And I reach down and hold her hand. I could do this everyday, for the rest of my life.

First Gift

The first gift that I successfully gave you (not counting all those I unwittingly gave to your neighbour downstairs) was the little cross-stich with your name on it. One of those cheap wooden circular frames. It was meant to say “My Room” but I changed the words, keeping the little rainbow by the side, and the small blue waves that rolled under. Min was about six or seven years old back then. She went through my drawer, pulled out the cross-stich and brought it to my mother, complaining loudly that I had deviated from the printed instructions. I was highly embarassed but was glad that my mom decided to laugh it off. She thought it was funny, her son having his first crush. Puppy love or something. He’s only eleven. She never saw this coming.

I did.

A Little Poultry

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz, or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off. I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul. I love you as the plant that never blooms but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers; thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance, risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body. I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride. So I love you because I know no other way than this : where I does not exist, nor you, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, that when you fall asleep, I close my eyes. Pablo Neruda
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