Tribolum.com Making Light of Things

August 2002 Archives

Non-Intellectual Property

I’m sure many of you blog-readers out there have at one point or another read the “he/she stole my html!” entry. It’s a familiar tale, now told in flash.

Watch the toon.

Warning: Contains “strong” language.

Link via Audrey.

Capturing the Person

If you have been looking at the photos I’ve put up in the Visuals section of Tribolum, you would have noticed that there have been very few pictures of people. Places, objects…yes. People…hardly any.

It is not that I do not find great beauty in people. Truth is, I often jump in enthusiasm at seeing a person - be it child or adult - in the perfect setting, perfect lightning, perfect moment.

The dilemma is this: I find it hard to take good photos of people because I do not know the protocols. Do I ask the person for permission, or do I wait till I have the ultra-huge zoom lens and snap away from a distance? I want to capture the person. The essence and the being.

Photographer Dan Heller wrote this great piece of people-photography on his website.

Get out of Tourist Mode To take a picture of someone, you need to make that human connection. To make a good picture, you need to establish a rapport. Be interested in them. Show your interest. Communicate with them. You’re not hunting animals with a gun, you’re taking pictures of people. You can hide and shoot, and try to get candids. I do that too; see my photos of People Kissing in Public for examples. But, if you want to work with the person, you need to care about them. - Dan Heller

It is clear that in our chronicling, we see the beauty but sometimes forget the life behind a living being. The subject is so much greater than our lenses can ever capture.

Suffer the Little Children

Kids at a school in Singapore made the first finals of a competition, going further than any of their predecessors ever did. They put in hours and hours of hard work, day after day, hoping to come home with the gold.

They didn’t win.

In most people’s eyes they were already victors, having broken new ground and done their best. But sadly, the education system in Singapore has become quite the corporate beast. No pity is found there. Nor love.

The teacher who is overall in charge reprimanded a few of these students days later. Something along the lines of them failing to win the competition, and failing to do well in their studies. Something about them failing. In everything, so it implies.

It can be argued that the school system is indeed providing education and getting these children ready for the jungle of a world out there. But there’s something to be said about the nobler things in life. Teaching about the journey rather than just the destination. There’s something to be said about not standing up for these things, and succumbing to the pressures of the world “outside”, the world which has seen giant corporations swindle savings from the helpless.

The school, the children are the last bastion of hope in an already bleak and dreary world. To stop fighting here is to subject all of humanity to an existence of utter despair.

First Week of the Last Lap

The first week of school is over (no classes on Friday). I don’t know if it’s lethargy or some final year syndrome, but I’m more ill-prepared this semester than ever before. Though I am inclined to think that I can just slip into “working mode”, the inertia is deadening.

There’s something about the last lap, isn’t there? Even in a foot-race, the last few steps seem so long, so arduous. I guess the Michael Jordans, Tiger Woods and Carl Lewis’s were special in the sense that they had that extra oomph. The killer instinct.

Me? I just wander around and wish we could all get along.

All Hail

At about noon yesterday, it hailed. Here in Tucson, Arizona. Amidst temperatures above 40 degrees celcius (105 Farenheit), the sky turned black almost instantly and little bits of ice fell from the sky.

I’ve not seen hail before, but something tells me it’s not a good sign for global weather.

That besides, I took a bunch of great pictures. It’s not everyday you see clouds in the sky here.

Google This!

People searching for “porn movies” and “broadband porn trailers”, this is not the place to be, even though Google tells you so.

Wait a minute, won’t my posting this raise the rankings in those searches?

In the Horizon

Forget European support. The path is clear for Bush to launch an attack on Iraq without having to obtain approval from Congress, let alone the world. So much for democracy.

Tension is in the air. So are F117 Stealth Bombers, the ones used in Desert Storm. They don’t often fly.

Tunnel Vision

On the news yesterday,

Are you getting enough? Recent studies show that sex may be the secret to living a long life.”

Expecting the media to present something objectively is fast becoming a futile exercise. Despite all the STDs and with more than half the population of some African nations suffering from HIV, the news continues to broadcast these recent “scientific” findings.

By Any Name

Walking to school is a blast. Literally. At temperatures easily over 40 degrees celsius (104 degrees Farenheit), the fifteen minute walk saps every ounce of resolve. There were times when I recall my army route marches being easier.

Tucson (pronounced two-sawn) may have gotten its name from some unfortunate dying desert dweller who was saying too (much) sun.

Then there’s Phoenix up north. We all know why the bird is rising from the ashes.

Decisions

One of the great things about American News is that they ocassionally hold debates regarding political decisions. Though I wince at the level of carnage and heat these debates generate, it provides valuable insight.

So, for those of you who are more in touch with world news, do you think the United States should go to war against Iraq without support from the European countries?

Schools of Thought

We’ve always had a rivalry with Arizona State University. While most of us aren’t too proud that they filmed “Revenge of the Nerds” here in campus back in the early 90s, ASU must have took offense and tried to top us again.

I’m not sure about a student porn movie being an accolade I’d want to be associated with.

Link via blueleaves.org.

Same Old, Same New

Heading back to church today was an interesting experience. The setting, the people and the environment was familiar, but I seemed changed. My mind was looking out for the youths and kids back home in Singapore, hoping to see their faces, and slowly the ones before me began to seem so distant.

Of course the usual hi’s and how-are-you’s were exchanged. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until Tiffy offered me a full hug that I realised that I was a member of two different places. A full member, not merely a sojourner. I had affected them as much as they had me, and there was a bond that would remain regardless of time or distance.

Like I mentioned before, a hug is still an alien form of expression for me in many ways, but I am thankful for the reattachment it offered me today.

Prepped Up

School starts tomorrow (technically today) and it seems that my psyche went on autopilot. I instinctively did a Martha Stewart and started organising my room, adding the ocassional decoration which I know I’ll take down in the morning.

The start of school has always heralded some sort of transformation for me. Way back in primary school I would be anxious to become the obedient, hardworking student, the dream son that failed to surface last year. It wouldn’t be two weeks before I gave in to my innate laziness and started to fall back on schoolwork.

I head to bed half-excited and half-afraid. Excited about the return to academia and discovery, and afraid that this time will pass me by too quickly. Much as I want to believe that working life is an extension of the journey, those that stepped ahead before me have returned with dire news of an inevitable process of dulling the human spirit.

I don’t know if I want this year to end.

Writer Written

Just watched the new Al Pacino movie Simone today.

It is basically a story of a disgruntled movie director who invents a movie star using digital technology. It was intriguing to see how the huddled masses of pop-culture sheep blindly followed the virtual Pied Piper in Simone.

Character invention is not new to us. I, for one, have fallen in love many a time with well-written fictional characters. But our generation stands at the threshold of technology, half embracing it, and half afraid to leave the familiar things we know hold true.

As we grow wiser, we become more wary of people “met” on the Internet, the golden rule being what is unseen is uncertain. Yet now there exists the power to defraud sight itself. To the artist, like Pacino’s character, it is the tool by which one can liberate the imagination.

A person’s vision is best kept to a singular source. Too often standards become compromised for the sake of collaboration. We are unable to communicate our original vision with total accuracy, or the people we work with are unable to produce it. Technology gives us the key to display our individual souls in its entirety. Even as you read this, it is the work of one unedited.

Al Pacino in the movie says, “I have created every nuance of the human being; the human soul”. The story then consumes him and changes who he is.

In this craft of writing, it is essential for the writer to see that control is but an illusion. It is often the story that begs to be told. The story uses the writer as the tool. She owns the writer, completely and utterly. The story chooses the writer.

It is she that writes him.

Trailer Trash

Hitting Apple’s website and gorging my broadband connection on a buffet of movie trailers is a highly satisfying activity. Though we now take the recommendations via movie trailers with a shovel of salt, we can’t deny the fact that these little snippets are a work of art.

The most recent of those, of Seinfeld’s new movie Comedian slaps reality in my face.

The gradeur and majesty are no more. I now laugh mockingly at the trailers. Seinfeld, in his comic genius, has once again opened our eyes with his “do you notice…”.

Watch the trailer of Comedian.

The Economic Divide

The saying that has been now embraced as rule goes:

The rich get richer, the poor get poorer.

In the medieval days of feudal lords and lowly peasants folklore created a hero for the people in Robin Hood. He defied the law of the land, and administered his own brand of justice. Yet his actions were deemed righteous, because he saw a greater good, and he felt the pain of the people.

In today’s age of information technology the war is the same. It is still a matter of money. The rich are still getting richer, and the poor are still left to starve. In the light of legal battles between entertainment executives and technological prodigies it is clear that Robin Hood’s arrow is no longer sufficient to battle the large monster capitalistic greed has become.

The fall of Napster and Morpheus are but the beginning. The legal ramifications of this battle doesn’t end at the server. It carries all the way to the bedrooms and personal lives of those who have trespassed against the media monguls. It concerns us.

While it is true that the letter of the law has been breached, there is no violation of its spirit. No one disputes the fact that such and such a music artist wrote or sang such and such a song. Kudos was given. Respect was given. Money was not given. That, is the essence of the battle.

It is absurd that these individuals earn enough to feed millions of people in poverty-striken countries simply by enforcing intellectual property rights. There is no doubt that many of them work hard, but so does the miner, accountant and janitor. They wield their power because they hold the pulse of human culture hostage, and rather than have their talents contribute towards a communal good, they make their millions.

The question, is not whether we have stolen from them. The answer to that is obvious. The true question lies in whether they have stolen from us all.

Sharing Milestones

As blogging approaches the height of its trend curve, the scene is bombarded with an enormous number of blogs from the more technologically-comfortable gen Yers. Though there are blogs that are worth noting, many of these blogs fall under the “No one loves me / everyone hates me / I’m gonna eat some worms” category. Who could blame them? Gen Y seems to have been born into a battlefield of technological advancement, many of which happen too quickly for the rest of us to contemplate their full implications.

I don’t remember having to deal with anything of this magnitude in my childhood. Give me my sandbox and little green plastic toy soldiers anytime.

This is not to say that Gen X is totally devoid of technological competence. Those of us who are in the business run the backend, set the tone, establish the standards. Or at least we think we do. Life too, happens quickly for us, and we blog up a storm, furiously chronicling the milestones that zip by.

There are those on the edge of impending motherhood like Claire and Pearl, whose blogs echo not one heartbeat but two, and the rest of us hold our breaths in anticipation of what is to come. We lap up the emotion (as well as the information) knowing that one day we too might have to live the same story.

Then there are the those whose blogs are living Dilbert comic strips. We read and laugh, both in mirth and pain at the same time. Life at work is often such a dichotomy.

Having spent quite a bit of the last two months preparing for our wedding next year, I had the idea that the American wedding would have been a breeze, given that they did not have the obligatory Chinese wedding dinner which was truly a logistical nightmare that held apocalyptic ramifications should the wrong relative be left out. I guess I was wrong.

Reading John’s preparations for their wedding also slated for next year, it is interesting to see that we face more or less the same issues.

It is nice to know that we’re not alone in the passing of life. It would be like watching a most spectacular sunset without anyone to share it with.

How Sweet the Sound

There are times when I miss your scent, or the way your hand feels in mine. This morning I miss the sound of your voice. If I stay quiet and concentrate hard enough, I can actually hear you singing the loobylu song you taught me in the car, accompanied by yours smile and laughter.

Now we dance loobylu Now we dance loobylai Now we dance loobylu All on a Saturday night.

I only knew loobylu to be Claire till then.

Looking back at the moment it seemed so…complete. It felt perfect because you sang the most nonsensical lyric and yet through your effervescent joy made the most beautiful sense.

Our life together, even the times physically apart. The laughter and tears over the years all made sense, and everything falls into place.

Away

Not being the more physically expressive type, hugging was always somewhat of a challenge. There were just too many combinations. My arms above yours, yours above mine, and two different criss-cross possibilities. And then there is the question of where to lay the head. Cheek to cheek, looking away or whether or not to breathe in scents that would etch the memory deeper.

I am the sort that would feel a lot more comfortable on a dance floor if I had explicit instructions. Spontaneity has never been one of my character traits. I was dull at best.

Thank you all for hugging me that night, a gesture to our closeness as I would be flying away in the few hours to come. Though I may have fumbled somewhat, holding each one of you felt so good, and so sure. Sure that we would always be bonded to each other.

Of course I am well aware of the weakness that accompanies human relationships. I only pray that God always be our center, our focal point. May we always gather unto Him first, and in that act find in each other a brother or sister for whom we are willing to lay our lives for.

I thank God for all of you.

Maranatha.

Convergence of the Twain

They met. Her parents and my parents. Though highly improbable, I couldn’t help but fear a low-budget remake of Ben Stiller’s “Meet the Parents”. I jokingly muttered that we ought to bring brass knuckles, baseball bats and body armour. One could never tell when a friendly meeting of two clans would result in a massive brawl.

There was always the fear that our parents, being to us our parents, would say or do something that would either embarass themselves or agitate members of the other clan. Starting off on a wrong foot was something we truly feared.

We left out one possibility. Our parents shared embarassing details of our respective childhoods and had a great laugh at our expense.

I look into her eyes, and smile. Our embarassment was a small price to pay for a glimpse of what family life would be like.

Terminology

Why does the medical community consider menstrual stress an anomaly? Females suffer from pre-menstrual stress, post-menstrual stress, plus the actual thing. Fact is, there’s only one week a month where women aren’t under some kind of menstrual stress.

There should be a celebratory name for that particular week, and the rest of the time should just be accepted as normal behaviour.

Megnificent

They’re showing When Harry Met Sally on telly again. I’ve watched this countless times in little installments as the show is a tad too long for my butt to remain stationary. And it never fails to hit home each time.

The endless theme of whether platonic friendships are possible between man and woman, Meg Ryan’s smile, Billy Crystal’s comic genius, and Meg Ryan’s smile. I can’t help but fall in love with warm toasty scarves in snowy Christmas walks by ice-skating rinks.

Not to mention the sweet toothy grin.

A New Life

After finishing the single-player campaigns in Warcraft 3, Morrowind has taken up quite a bit of my time. I find myself forgetting chores I promised to do, or reading things I made up my mind to read.

What draws people to Role-Playing Games (RPGs) so? Is it the prospect of a new life? The ability to choose the way you look, the power to be good at something? I know a lot of my time is spent on Morrowind trying to get my character as proficient with the bow and arrow as possible. Unlike real life, there are no physical limitations. Here in RPG-land, you put in the hours, you get the results. The rules are finite and simple. You become good, you get respect.

Life isn’t that forgiving. We can’t always choose the profession we want, or the facial features we are born with. The skills we gain don’t always correlate to the amount of time we spend honing them. Some young punk somewhere is going to barge in and become numero uno simply by the sheer dumb luck of being born with more talent. Here in the lands of Morrowind, Diablo, Dungeon Siege or Everquest, we are empowered to become that which we choose.

I made Faith sad today by promising to do something which I forgot. I’m quitting Morrowind. I think I’m quitting RPGs for good.

Life isn’t that forgiving.

The Void

The colloquial term “void deck” refers to the ground floor in public apartments here in Singapore. Unlike apartments everywhere else, public housing apartments in Singapore leave the ground floor vacant, a common meeting place of sorts. Occupancy starts on the second floor up.

Goodness knows how it came about that this meeting place would be termed the “void deck”. Another semantic idiosyncracy is with regards to physical location. You’re always “beneath” the void deck, even if you’re very much on the ground floor. It’s never on or in the void deck. It has to be beneath.

So here I was this afternoon, standing beneath the void deck of apartment block number 54, Marine Parade, Singapore. The scene before me encapsulated public housing life, and it warmed my heart. The elder residents playing Chinese chess on their homemade boards that were lovingly hand-carved. A short distance away, their grandchildren running about.

It is a sad fact that the generation in the middle - the parents, are the ones not often present to witness the growing up of their children. No matter your profession, it is customary in Singapore to work your butt off. Life, it seems, can wait for the time you retire.

Checkmate. The old folks start a new game. I smile and move on. I’ve got errands to run. It was nice sharing life’s essence, even if it was for a moment.

The Dark Side

Despite being in the “new” millenium and all, we are no closer to the humanity envisioned in Star Trek. An economy not running on self-gain, but the betterment of the species as a whole. A place where discovery is what powers the people.

Sure, we already have the automatic doors found on the Enterprise. In some ways, we are more advanced technologically than Star Trek. Our recent advances in hair follicle stimulation would make Captain Jean Luc Picard green with envy. But Jean Luc’s world was light-years ahead not solely because of its technological prowess but the change in its mindset. Something I doubt we’ll ever see.

It always comes down to the base of human character. The Hyde inside each and every one of us. Digital cameras are now increasingly used for voyeuristic purposes. The Internet, the portal of human information, is largely used to facilitate the transfer of pornography. The AIDS vaccine.

Rather than advocate abstinence, we have spent our millions, even billions, to find a way to continue our lifestyle of casual sex and moral flippance.

Our depravity will find a way to upkeep our opulence. Even if it means sacrificing the rest of them to starvation.

Green Thumb

And they shall sit every one under his vine, and under his fig-tree; and there shall be none to make [them] afraid: for the mouth of Jehovah of hosts hath spoken [it]. Micah 4:4
In that day, saith Jehovah of hosts, shall ye invite every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig-tree. Zechariah 3:10

Reading the books of the minor prophets in the Bible has been enlightening. They’re not the most read books of the Bible, yet hold a treasure-trove of insight - political, socio-economic as well as spiritual.

The two verses hit home because they spoke about the end times. The thing that struck me was that every man sat under his own fig tree and vine, as opposed to a random one in a random field somewhere. That meant that I could not offer any excuse should my fig tree be devoid of figs, or should my vine produce grapes the size of raisins. I would be held accountable, and the whole world would behold the work of my life.

How could Micah be so confident, saying “there shall be none to make them afraid”? I knew I couldn’t. I was convinced that my life, no matter how hard I tried, could scarcely be one worthy of global scrutiny. In my twenty-something years here on earth I have done enough to deliver my family name to embarassment, and myself to eternal damnation.

Then I read Zechariah 3:9,

For behold, the stone that I have laid before Joshua — upon one stone are seven eyes; behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith Jehovah of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in one day.

Jesus Christ is the stone upon which we are all justified. Indeed by His stripes we are healed.

I, am healed. On the day of reckoning I shall sit beneath my fig tree and vine, and none will make me afraid, because the work of producing fruit is not something to be accomplished by my own human hands, but only because “the mouth of God has spoken it”. And Jesus Christ is that Word.

He, the Truth, has set us free.

Home Away

It occurred to me that I have a little more than a week before heading back to Tucson. In the words of a small Von Trapp girl, “I’m glad to go, I cannot tell a lie”.

Like a true Singaporean, I’ll miss the midnight suppers, the endless bustle and the towering city. But there’s something to be said about the slower, quieter life. Somewhere inside I know that it is the feeling of home, a place where I can escape the ever-moving facade of work.

I can phrase my feelings no better than to modify the words of the American writer Getrude Stein,

Singapore is my country, but Tucson is my hometown.

Either way, I’m leaving home for home.

Triboluminescent

A close friend told me that she found the light in my writings growing dim.

It has been a somewhat darker time for me, and like the other little Miss Sunshines in the world, times like these just make us exasperated at the fact that we’re the ones left holding a very heavy torch.

I chose the name Tribolum, short for triboluminescence - the making of light through friction. I guess now’s as good a time for friction as any other. Over these three months I’ve had to tussle over the logistical arrangements of a wedding, my fiancee’s love affair with her cell phone and the life of a chauffeur on the call of duty.

The talk with Biscotti set me thinking and cleared up so many things for me. Lifting this light up with my own strength simply isn’t possible.

I turn back to Him, the Light, and I lay myself broken at His feet.

I can do nothing. I am set free.

In Weakness and in Health

I’ve been to a hospital or some form of healthcare center almost everyday of the week. My aunt’s scheduled acupuncture and her chemotherapy sessions. Faith’s kid cousin fell ill. An old lady from church had a cataract removed. My own physiotherapy for my wrist.

An unusual bond has been forged between the strange world of the unwell and me. I feel somewhat privileged to be witness to this side of humanity that is so often shunned aside and ignored by the rest of us. A table reserved for the physically disabled stands in the middle of the rest of the “normal” tables, a place inaccessible, even to the healthy of foot. That, my friend, is the feeble attempt we have made to make their lives better.

Yet the strength that belies them is something we will never have privy to unless we place our own physical strength aside. Looking at the sick children at the children’s hospital, I cannot help but be amazed at how happy and content they seem. It doesn’t faze them that they have to consume their McDonald’s Happy Meal with one hand. I’m sure many a tear has been shed, and cries uttered, but none of those smell of despair, unlike the pity we shower upon them, a bid to allay our guilt rather than improve their lives.

The old aunt from church prayed for us. In her physical weakness she saw that we were weak, and blind to the fact. I cherish this summer spent amongst them. They whom we think have little of life have taught me so much about living it, breathing it and loving it.

Patriotism Renewed

So it’s National Day again. 32 37 years of independence. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Despite the temptation to be cynical about the blatant propoganda that bombards us through newly composed nationalistic songs and speeches, the festivities never fail to instill some sense of pride.

Sure we have our problems. With our collective outlook on life, or the decisions that we make. But these are always present in any society. Strength renewed, I feel like I can actually work towards changing some things.

Voice inside me mutters: Who are you trying to kid?

Let me just enjoy this one day.

Update: Thanks to H’s Honey, I was reminded that it was 37 and not 32 years of independence. Shows how patriotic I am, or how ineffective the education system here was in teaching me basic mathematics. I raise my pitchfork at the latter.

The Luff

Mom, being the corporate woman she is, was explaining to me over dinner how important it was to stay indispensible. “You have to know what other people are doing,” she says, “so that you aren’t tied to the ship should it go down”. Ok, maybe she didn’t say it in such metaphorical terms. Her metaphor was that the picture of the corporate scene changes so fast, you don’t want to be a leaf that eventually gets painted off simply because the artist decided to change to an urban landscape. Again, not in the exact same words, but close.

I’ve always wanted to teach. It occurred then to me that were life a picture, the legacy of teaching would not be a leaf, nor a cloud painted on a expanse of sky. Teachers are the glass that protect the painting, the frame that makes life bearable to look at for us mere mortals. Unlike lawyers or engineers, or even accountants (sorry Mom), teachers are the truly indispensible part of existence.

I want to be a teacher. I want to shape lives. I want to challenge conventional thought. I want to give our youths a fair picture of life itself. The “plan” was that I work in the industry so as to better give students a glimpse of real life. The glass that frames has to be placed close to the painting to minimise distortion.

But I know better than to make my own plans. NBA superstar. World-class orator. A lead on Broadway. Accomplished none of those.

I want to be polished by His hands, and somehow, solely by His grace, reflect a glimpse of His glory. I need to luff. Gotta get closer.

Finding Roots

I grew up in public housing, as I believe many other Singaporeans have. Though my parents both worked hard and “upgraded” to more upmarket property, I find myself so inexplicably tied to square boxlike apartment housing. Once cold and unfeeling, she now speaks volumes to me of my childhood, the friends I had, the life we departed from.

Now aged and no longer pristine, the cracks stand testament to the her maternal effort, protecting us, shielding us, watching us.

I took a few photos, hoping to capture her beauty. Her inner beauty. Something we’ve forsaken for the fast track.

See

Been reading Erich Sauer’s Triumph of the Crucified. It’s a thin book, but every line is just so packed with meaning and revelation. I feel like one who just had a really rich meal. I need time to digest all that. But wow.

Always Remember

For Maddie, and the rest of us. May we never forget.

With all the treasures of His throne of the earth and of the skies and of the universe beyond. Our Father gave instead His Son counting His worth far beyond all the treasures of His kingdom home. Our God withheld not His own Son the treasure of His heart poured out for you. Since He already gave His Son what now will He withhold from You His own? -Excerpt from Dana Congdon’s Come Ye Beloved.

Even more importantly, what can we withhold from Him?

Downtime

Sniff. Cough. Wheeze. Cold toes and warm hands. The flu bug hit HARD. Stay well, the rest of you.

To a Father, Brother, Friend

Dear Lord Jesus,

I so often find myself discontented with the circumstances around me, and until You opened my eyes I didn’t know that it was You against whom I was murmuring. How far I have fallen from what I longed to be. I failed to see the many things You’ve provided so faithfully, and instead chose to grumble resentfully that things were not how I planned.

When I call you Lord, I know that it means You hold everything I am in your possession. It is no longer what I want, but what You want that matters. My ego, my pride, myself. I lay them all once again into Your hands, for my own are careless.

I place You before my eyes once again and when I see, when I truly see, I bend the knee of my heart and worship. How could I do anything else. I am Your bondservant once more. Bondservant of the Most High.

Thank You.

Tossed Under Fire

I am so tired of being caught in the middle of tradition and circumstance. Wedding planning activities seem to be a cruel prank played on young couples by the gods of tradition. Pulled on many sides, I feel like a battered boat tossed about by the four winds, without so much as a rudder to steer myself.

That is right. I do not have a rudder of any sort. Coming fresh from the world of education means that I have not the funds to self-propel myself through this web of everyone elses’ wants and needs, whims and fancies. Not having money also means that I have zero bargaining power, and though I, like many womenfolk out there, have my own visions of what my wedding will be like, have no power whatsoever to see it through. Being a man means that I should be the provider, the breadwinner. Not having the dough somehow makes me a lesser man. That’s how I feel right now, at least.

I would like a small wedding with close friends and family. I want to shake the hand of all who attend, and be able to thank them for what they have been to the both of us. It doesn’t look like it’s going to be that way. In all probability it will become an obligatory duty, a time when my bride and I will be put props in a combined parental birthday party.

I hate to think the day of our dreams put to naught, never to return unto us. But I have not the strength to fight.

No, I have not the funds to fight. I rant impotently on my blog, and that is the extent of my power, my manhood.

For Love of the Game

Singapore’s women table-tennis team won the gold at the Commonwealth Games. The last time this island city saw gold at the Games was forty years ago. It didn’t smell this bad forty years ago.

At the heart of the problem lies the fact that the entire team, except for one who didn’t get to play, were China-born. They did not migrate to Singapore when they were children. They were brought here and granted citizenship with one sole purpose - to win medals. They did their job. Simple as that. They put in the years of sweat and toil (most of which were spent under the Chinese), and it paid off.

It is a Singaporean trait to be afraid of defeat. It has become part and parcel of our identity. It is the destination, not the journey, that we seem concerned with. The lust for first place is getting continually worse. We need to win.

I’m proud of the girls who won. I am. I’m ashamed of the decisions the people we put in power made in order to gain these accomplishments. The excuses they put up to justify their actions.

We do not support atheletes in our country. Let’s just face those facts and be honest about it. Howe Liang, the only Singaporean athelete to win a medal in the Olympics, is not rich, nor does he have a job coaching the younger generation. His sacrifice brought us glory, and he now bears the weight alone.

Learn to live life, Singapore. Don’t ever, ever sell out.

Maybe we already have. My heart weeps.

Don’t take my word for it. Read.

Dieting Tip

Put Nutella in the fridge. It’ll be a little harder to scoop out, thus burning more calories.

Finding Yourself on Your Feet

As a child I often read about the American Indians and how they had their coming of age ceremonies. A usual one that appeared in many books involved the young boy walking into the bush to live on his own for a few days and return a man.

I took a walk like that today. I walked home to Marine Parade from Suntec City. It took an hour and a half, and the sky wasn’t great for taking photographs, but I did anyway. I don’t know if I found myself, but there was a nice calm.

For more photos I took today click HERE.

« July 2002
Main Index
Archives
September 2002 »