March 2003 Archives

Bookends

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My contribution to The Fray’s question: “Where have these bookends found you?”. A reflection over what has changed from one Gulf War to the next.

I was never one who embraced change. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991, I was enraged. A 14 year old, it was hard enough trying to pass geography at that time without national boundaries changing on you. Watching the news, I couldn’t help but feel angered that the madman of a large country would run over the people of a little country. I was from a little country too, and felt a duty to stand up for the underdog. I was glad the coalition put together by the United Nations stepped in and ended the invasion. I’ll never forgot how amazing a technological wonder those tomahawk cruise missiles were. Able to hit a mailbox from 2000 kilometers away! Even my hero Isaiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons couldn’t shoot a basketball that accurately from the free-throw line. I was convinced that the United States, with its technological prowess, could somehow bomb a building, killing only the Iraqi invaders, while somehow protecting the Kuwaitis from physical harm. Being the better informed among my contemporaries, I found it disturbing that my Muslim Indian friend took offense to my enthusiasm and admiration for the allied forces that had won such an astounding victory. The look on her face still lingers with me even today, and it is only in recent months I fully understood the helplessness and seething indignation she felt that day.

bq. 19And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. - Luke 22:19,20.

That’s what we’ve been doing all these years: Breaking the unleaven bread and drinking from the cup to remember Christ and what He has done for us. The act itself was meant to be symbolic, but the importance behind it cannot be made more emphatic.

Dearly belovéd in Changi, it breaks my heart to receive news from you that due to the highly contagious nature of the now epidemic SARS virus, paranoia has gripped the us as to the breaking of the bread.

I understand the paranoia. When I mentally placed myself there, I too found my own heart filled with fears of getting infected. Drinking from the same cup and eating of the same piece of unleaven bread is a haven for contamination, logically speaking.

But faith transcends mere logic. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1)”. Contracting the virus comes with it the major ramifications of life and death, and that it is no small matter. I’ll confess that I would have hesitated before drinking from the cup, when put in the same situation.

My hesistation, even though only hypothetical, did not sit well with me. I struggled within myself to find clarity, or a way out of the fear that has paralysed so many of us.

It is a matter of life and death. It always has been. When we first became Christians, that was the whole deal: Life and death. The most commonly used piece of scripture John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever might believe in Him should never perish, but have eternal life.” Though it was most probably a choice many of us made so very long ago, it is a timely reminder that in believing Him we chose life.

There is no choosing of life if the realisation of death did not occur to us. Over the years, we’ve become jaded, and for many of us going to church became a routine activity that has lost a lot of its original meaning. We talk about how some Christians (usually overseas) were persecuted and how they triumphed by the grace of God. This is now our turn.

We could do everything in our power to make the breaking of bread as safe as it possibly can be. Separate the bread and wine into individual portions. Have them in little packets, like those used for tomato ketchup or soy sauce. We may want to sit farther apart from each other because the virus could be airborne. There are so many things we could do. Or, we could simply not come.

But I urge you, brothers and sisters in Christ, to remember your first love. Remember what you have chosen and Whom you have proclaimed the Lord of all things, and more importantly, the Lord of your life. Nothing happens outside of His hand.

I am not saying that we should be act carelessly and irresponsibly. We should do what we need to in order to make it as safe as we possibly can, but we should do so out of love, and not out of fear.

I love you all, and it pains me to see you suffer from a distance. My heart longs to be with you again, to partake of the same portion that unites us in Him, and to remember with you who Christ is and all that He has done.

Grace and peace be with you all till we meet again.

Looking at a small picture of Loobylu’s Amelia-Joan made my uterus shudder. That is, if I had one.

Reeling from the effects of imaginary estrogen, a list our (again imaginary) baby’s physical attributes forms in my head. You know, whose eyes and whose nose and whose hair etc. I’m not that crazy to do the whole photoshop face-merging exercise.

Yet.

Anyway, here’s the list:

Eyes: Faith
Nose: Faith
Mouth: Faith
Hair: Definitely Faith

Yeah, the results of the list shocks me as well. It’s almost as if I’ve lost all male inclinations of passing down my genes. Then again, I wouldn’t have chosen to marry the girl I didn’t think we the absolutely most beautiful person on the face of the planet now, would I?

Our Own Little War

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Singaporeans always have a penchant for being petty (the whole debacle over the Hello Kitty! toys McDs was offering) and looking stupid on a grand scale (the chewing gum ban is still something I have to explain to all my non-Singaporean friends).

With the War on Iraq and the outbreak of the SARS virus having taken centerstage the past few weeks now, Singaporeans weren’t taking it lying down. Having been conditioned over the course of our entire history to be number one in everything, it simply wouldn’t be right if we didn’t have our attempt at the war-pie. Being only 50km by 22km (or 31mi by 14mi), we’d have to do things our own special and unique way.

We’ll have a war over parking lots.

Radio DJs Glenn Ong (Perfect 10) and the Flying Dutchman (Class 95) hurled insults and called each other names while on the air over Glenn’s parking lot in which the Flying Dutchman supposedly parked in. This happens when you place competitors in the same building.

The most interesting thing that came out of it was that the war was being waged on two different stations at the same time. Glenn would say something about the Flying Dutchman and callers would inform the Dutchman over the phonelines, and vice-versa.

I don’t know if you see the connection, but the callers performed a function we bloggers know as Trackback. It’s basically a “hey, he’s talking about you”.

A marketplace is Baghdad was the scene of the lastest strike on Iraq. As civilian casualties mount, Washington denies that the “coalition of the willing” had anything to do with it. But why stop there when you can push the blame on the Iraqis?

“given the behaviors of the regime lately, it may have been a deliberate attack inside of town”, Brig. General Vincent Brooks was quoted as saying.

A U.S. spokesperson summed it up: “we may never know” precisely what happened.

Well, a U.S. military spokesman said coalition aircraft had indeed attacked missiles and launchers in a residential area of Baghdad at around the time of the explosion. This was said without “directly admitting responsibility”.

Though this war is probably more thoroughly covered by the media than any previous war, I am still a little sceptical about the integrity of the news coverage. After all, don’t they always begin their reports with “a government official said…”?

CNN link via Crazywalker.

Due to the closure of all schools in Singapore due to the SARS outbreak, Faith is relieved of her teaching duties for a week and a half. We spent this afternoon (Singapore time) talking on the phone, about what married life would be like, how we’d do up our small apartment and so on.

“I’ll have to warn you first, I’ll grow very wrinkled after marrying you”, I told her.

“Why?”

“Because you make me smile all the time.”

Autobots! Roll Out!

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A United States National Guardman legally changed his name to “Optimus Prime”!!!

Optimus is headed out to the Middle East to help out with the Iraq war. I really hope he didn’t leave behind the matrix of leadership with the muddleheaded dinobots of Florida.

Link via Zannah.

I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. There aren’t many things I’m good at. At least I don’t think so. I’ve played basketball all my life, but a trip to the Rec center reminds me how far behind the curve I am. Until recently, academic endeavours have never captured my attention, and I always came home taking home one of the top five spots from behind.

If anything, rebels win the popularity polls right? Well I didn’t get that either. I was the one who sort of blended into the background, surfacing only when the teacher wanted to cane me for not (ever) doing my homework.

I guess photography in some form or another has always been a part of my life. When I was young I’d borrow my Dad’s old Leica, walked out to the patio late at night and set things on fire in a little cookie tin. Small things - crumpled balls of paper, sometimes plastic bags - in an attempt to capture various colours of flame on film.

Over the past year, I’ve grown proud of my photolog and the little snippets of my life contained within. An initially bold step was to license the photos under the Creative Commons license, which meant giving up the tight rein Copyright law provided. A second step was taken today.

I’ve begun to write simple tutorials for post-processing digital photographs in Adobe Photoshop, something which I’ve wanted to do for some time, but was hesitant. Honestly, I was half-afraid that everyone’s photos will eventually look like mine, and I’d lose whatever edge I had by giving away the little pointers which I had worked so hard to acquire by experience. I’d be mediocre again; just one in the crowd.

But it would be hyprocrisy to support the intentions of the Creative Commons, which is one of enriching the culture of humankind, and hold back now. A friend whom I’ve not spoken to for years told me today, “I don’t think there’s such a thing as too much good photography”.

So here’s my first tutorial, an answer to a question asked by Kristen about decolouring coloured photographs.

I’m doing this because I realised that your memories are every bit as important and beautiful as mine.

I’ve seen these accordian-like things to shield ambient light on digital camera LCDs, but this advertisement pushes the boundaries of sanity.

“Hand crafted by professionals with over 100 years experience!” it claims. I didn’t know we had digital cameras and notebook computers a hundred years ago. And dang, that’s a bunch of really old people making these things.

My guess is that an accordion factory went bust due to the dot com crash, and rather than retire, the very old workers adapted their skills for the new millenium.

Link via Wenyang.

Preliminary word on the car: It’s going to cost at least a thousand bucks. Well, at least now I know that my fears were confirmed, as opposed to worrying about it.

Riding my bike through school on my way to the Rec was a refreshing change. The wind in my face (I don’t have hair long enough to catch the wind) and the the absence of four steel walls around me reminded me of my first year here in Arizona, where I lived in the dorms and travelled everywhere by sheer legpower. Owning a car somehow isolates you - there’s a sense of detachment from the things and people around. You can’t hear anything because the windows are up and the music’s playing. You can’t see the faces of the pedestrians because you’re travelling too fast. Life becomes a blur, and the human traffic becomes simply traffic; something to negotiate around, a variable factor in your moving from point A to point B.

I got to see many fresh faces, some plodding along the pavement with dreams of a tighter butt of firmer calves. The sound of friends laughing, or the tired sigh of an international student carrying a truckload of books. School came alive again.

In the midst of my worries, I contemplated selling prints of my photographs. My modest Asian self tells me that they’re probably not good enough for consumption. Despite having been in a business school of some form or other for almost seven years, the whole idea of pricing still eludes me.

Would you consider buying the prints, and how much?

War reporter Robert Fisk tours the Baghdad hospital.

Link via Mike.

God bless America. I mean it, I really do. When I stood at the steps of the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, on the National Day of Prayer I uttered those overheard words very audibly in the most secret place of my heart.

In church we pray for the safety of the U.S. troops and wisdom for the U.S. government. If we stretched a little outside ourselves we prayed for the Iraqi civilians. No one prays for the Iraqi soldiers; and no one, by any stretch of the imagination, prays for Saddam Hussein. Praying for his swift demise is another matter altogether.

Aren’t Iraqi soldiers fathers, sons and brothers too? Every time a missile hits a building, a SAM site, people die. It is so important to remember that, and not be desensitised simply because their faces were never shown or their families interviewed.

So tonight, do something new. Pray for the Iraqi soldiers. Heck, pray for Saddam the same way you’d pray for Bush. That he’d have wisdom to make the right decisions, so on and so forth.

Their blood too is red, and they are not lesser than you and I.

By Design

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“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life…and which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” - Luke 12:22, 25
“But seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you” - Luke 12:31

It’s hard not to worry. The mechanic didn’t call like he said he would, so I still do not yet know how much the car repairs will cost, but I don’t have a good feeling about the whole thing.

It’s hard not to worry about where the money will come from, or if any of this was my fault. Even though I serviced the car regularly and ran whatever checks I could periodically, some part of me still blames myself for the whole incident of the engine overheating. Maybe if I’d done this, or that. But there are only so many ways to drive a car from Tucson to Florence, and none of the variations (using my left foot to step on the accelerator, for example) would have made a difference.

Faith just told me that the youths back in Singapore just had a Bible lesson on worrying a few hours ago (it’s Sunday afternoon there already). She reminded me that nothing happens outside of God’s plan, and that He sees all things, knows all things, and has control over all things.

I take a deep breath, and I realise how fast I had forgotten these seemingly simple truths. As life grew more complicated I had subconsciously wrestled the steering wheel from God, and decided that I was more dependable.

So it’s a wake-up call; that’s what it is, this business with the car malfunction. I bow the head of my heart, and come unto Him once again, offering the reins of my life.

Lord, You know all things, and You know how I’ve run away from you; how I’ve forgotten You. Yet in through all my rebellion You still call me back unto Yourself, and I stand speechless at the grace that You’re showing me. I’m afraid to take the first step - I’ve fallen so many times over the years, and I know how fickle my heart is.

But I’m drawn back to You, because there is no other way. I can only ask for Your forgiveness and Your strength, that I may not sin against You.

Help me. To remember You always. To choose You always. Above all things.

“And we know that all things work for good to those that love God, to those that are called according to His purpose.” - Romans 8:28

Tribulations

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The Arizona Wildcats scraped past the Gonzaga Bulldogs 96-95. My world is made normal again.

About two weeks ago, Chris, in all good intent, gave me two tickets to the Renaissance Fair near the town of Florence, a good hour and a half's drive from Tucson.

Having made arrangements to meet Chris and his friends at the fair, my sister and I drove toward Florence last Sunday. The rain came down in torrents, but I drove on in the hope that Florence would be outside the humongous stormcloud that besieged Tucson.

I was wrong. The rains just got heavier and heavier, and we decided to turn back almost two-thirds of the way there. We didn't want to waste the tickets on a rained-out parade.

This morning, we decided to head to the fair, it being the last weekend and all. We missed the turning onto highway 79 and drove an extra ten miles or so, but we figured out our mistake soon enough and headed in the right direction.

Florence - 42 miles, the signboard said. Then it started.

Wowee

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Shock and Awe has officially begun. It is sad that there were some who felt the war started off too slow, and we could almost hear the moan of newscasters awaiting the big bang.

Amongst the comments heard over the news channels today, a Fox correspondent stationed in Iraq likened the scene to an “action movie”. I’m not sure if it’s because our appetites have grown so numb, but I actually found myself awaiting some form of explosion on television. It’s almost surreal how the loss of life takes a backseat to the “oooh” factor of visual pyrotechnics.

So, everyone’s happy now right? In Jack Ryan’s (or rather, the villian’s) words, “you’ve got your own little war”.

Have a nice day everyone.

Hot Air

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This isn’t a shooting war. It’s a talking war. Bush talks; Saddam talks; Bush’s aides talk about whether that was really Saddam talking; Rumsfeld talks.

William Saletan sees the humour in it all.

Senator Robert Byrd’s question from the Senate Floor, Wednesday, 19th March 2003:

Why can this President not seem to see that America’s true power lies not in its will to intimidate, but in its ability to inspire?

The rest of his speech, The Arrogance of Power.

That and more on Alternet.org.

Questions

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One of the first things you learn as a politician is probably this: People won’t complain forever.

Raise the price of bus fares. Increase income tax. Do whatever it is that is unpopular. As long as the elections are not anywhere near, there is close to nothing the people can or will do.

The war has begun. Can someone please, please remind me what all this is for again? Because it’s the right thing to do?

The liberation of the Iraqi people is a right thing to do, there is no question about that. But let us not confuse the end result with the means by which it was obtained. Why didn’t the inspections go on? Because they took too long? Because we were impatient? Were they ineffective? Was Hans Blix lying when he said that Iraq’s disarmament would be complete in a few months given the level of cooperation Iraq was now showing?

Disarmament. That’s the word the news channels are using for the war. The disarmament has begun. If a guy walked up to me wielding a Samurai sword, and I being the far superior fighter (this is my blog) could easily disarm him, but chose to kill him instead, would that be disarming him? I guess you could say that. The sword’s out of his hand, isn’t it? Oh, he’s dead? Small matter.

I’m pretty sure I heard the sound of a thousand scoffers scoffing simultaneously (check out the alliteration) when they aired Saddam’s address to the Iraqi people. He actually called the U.S. the evildoer. He had the guts to say that he would render “the evildoer” incapable of doing “any more evil”. So if the U.S. is evil, and Iraq is evil, who’s good?

Oh wait, that’s right. France = Freedom.

There are many questions that run in my mind tonight and it seems an almost distant memory as to how we all got here. It’s the sickness that afflicts us commoners - we tend to forget. It won’t be long before the picket signs sit at the back of the garage and no one remembers what we were fighting for.

History is intriguing that way. Alternate realities and what-ifs all die once the crossroads are passed and the path chosen. Think hard: What would it have been if inspections were given time? Remember that. Blog it.

It is the path not taken.

Hide Me

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I never quite understood the old hymns that asked God to hide them. Maybe it was because I was always free-spirited and relatively devoid of care. I was always more for the “strengthen me, use me” kind of songs that would inspire me to go forth and change the world.

Tonight I just want to curl up and lie on my bed. I want so much to be hid - from all the things that are happening around us.

It sucks to tremble with fear just before switching on CNN. It is not the acts of terror that strike the most fear in me; it is the visual realisation of what we might have become.

Hide me.

Dynamic Language

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Now that we’re clear that it’s not just the French who oppose the idea of war, shouldn’t there be more renaming of everyday items? We could make up new names over shots of liberty vodka and play a few rounds of liberty roulette.

Oh darn, I can’t go. I’ve to go home to feed my Emancipation Shepherd.

You got any good ones to offer?

Ringbearer

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Ever once so often, yet not nearly often enough, we rise above ourselves and move people in spectacular ways.

Robin Cook resignation from the House of Commons yesterday was one shining example. His resignation speech so eloquently asked the questions in all our (we who are not for the war) hearts.

Links via Megnut.

On MSNBC, they're now talking about what to do after the war on Iraq. Largely paraphrased,

"We should then go to Syria."

"You mean militarily?"

"When you have 250,000 troops and have just won a war, you don't need to fight. You just go there."

A map of the region is pulled up as the analyst talks about the next steps after victory in Iraq. I could have sworn I heard glee in his voice.

This is not talk of peace. If anything, it has grown into a rationalised conquest. What, you think they didn't use to do that? I'm sure Hitler didn't go around saying "we gotta kill people because we feel like it". Heck, even the early American settlers themselves must have concocted some lame excuse for the genocide of millions of native Americans.

I'm very concerned over the state of things right now. It's almost like Washington has lost her mind, and the term "peace in the Middle East" a cliché that rhymes. A page of world history is being written before our very eyes, and I fear America's portion be written with the blood off soldiers and foreigners.

Sci-Non-Fi

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I’ve become a victim of the post-browser-war syndrome. For those of you non-geek kinds, the browser wars happened not too long ago, in a galaxy far far away…oh wait, that was another war.

It was a time when Netscape ruled the world with a benevolent hand, and all was good. The grass was lush and green, and the antelopes roamed the fields. Everything was in balance - the circle of life was in harmony. We celebrated the success of the nimble and innovative.

But it would not always be so. The dominant Empire that was Microsoft would see the potential that lay within the browser and embark on a crusade to reap its benefits. Netscape would have to die.

Microsoft did this by producing the Internet Explorer Death Star, and included functionalities within it that Netscape did not have in order to rally the support of the masses unto its side. Netscape retaliated with unique functionalities of its own. The two main browsers began to diverge, each on looking for a foothold that would enable it to trample the other.

So I, a simple web developer peasant toiling endlessly on the moons of Endor, have become a casualty of the war. Extended hours of labour are needed to ensure that my harvests display equally well in both browsers. It feels almost like having to speak in multiple languages at the same time and yet not making my point known to those who would only read in the obscure dialects of Opera or Mosaic.

The tips of my fingers are blistered and my retinas are seared from the radiation of the 19”. I’ve succeeded in being the faithful interpreter for Microsoft and Mozilla / Netscape.

But hark, the sound of IE version 5.5 users’ moans can be heard throughout the land. “Margins don’t line up” they cry. “Your sidebar sucks in grey!” I crawl out of my bed and back to my old plough (Pentium 3 500mhz is old).

I give up. I will not teach the illiterate to read! Who cares about us peasants?

Hail, the warriors of the web standards project! They have come to save us!

Maybe there’s hope after all. In the meantime, upgrade your browsers and hang in there. It’s going to be a hell of a ride.

Nostalgia Reborn

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For those of you who prefer the old layout, choose the Grey layout option on the sidebar. I even threw in the old photo banners. Everything was done through CSS.

So Zhenlin, you can have your cake and eat it too. :)

Woke up earlier than most and hit the free hotel breakfast. I was disappointed to find that they didn’t have scrambled eggs and salsa, a combination I had come to expect of hotels after staying at InnSuites here in Tucson some years ago. Raisin bran cornflakes would have to do.

I saw Jish (in what looks like his pjs, no less) and his usual lady entourage, but being the introvert that I was (coupled with the fact that mornings are usually my time of introspection) I sat at another table. The whole problem with SXSW was that it would end when we were just getting all toasty. Even the immortal Jish felt pangs of regret. If only we were bolder and wiser…

After breakfast I took a stroll down Congress Ave and to the State Capitol, where I allowed my shutter-finger to do its thing. I usually scout out new places I go to, making mental notes about buildings to take pictures of and assessing the available sunlight based on a projected time of the day thingie. When my formula messes up, I cling to the hope that the geniuses at Adobe have some sort of miracle cure on Photoshop.

The State Capitol was filled with people who had gathered for the National Day of Prayer. Being the cynic that I am, I surprised myself when I found myself praying with them - with my eyes open, still scouting out angles and photo-ops. Even praying for them. In the face of so much political uncertainty and violence, these people had turned to God, and I whispered a prayer, thankful for the hope and love they had for the people in power, thickheaded as they sometimes were.

I rushed down Red River Ave to Kick 2003. Not having the slightest idea as to what Kickball was all about, I sat out the first game, taking photographs instead. It’s a rare sight to see so many cubicle-dwelling, sunlight-shunning geek-people participating in a sporting activity, a sight worthy of photographic capture.

It was during all this photo-taking that we photo-geeks started to gravitate toward each other. Mike Buffington had a Nikon D100, and I simply had to check that out. Mike turned out to be the surprise find and we hung out the better part of SXSW.

SXSW Highlights

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I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve spent the last few days in the darkness of my own room, still reeling from the social high and sense of awe that was SXSW.

For starters Breaking Bread with Brad was a highlight in itself. The blogging energy was electrifying, as digital cameras popped up like meerkats on ecstasy. I had the good fortune of sitting next to Davezilla and Natalie, amongst many others. It was nice to put faces on the blogging voices that I have become so addicted to.

Tina was sweet enough to buy me a Shiner (the local Texan brew), which I unfortunately had to decline. I am able to hold more alcohol in my navel than in my system. Tina rocks.

After the dinner we headed down Sixth St. to a piano bar where I saw Min Jung down her fifth and sixth Shiner. Jessica kept busy by pulling out camera after camera from what seemed like her magic camera bag. At last count there were four. We left the bar and headed to the Omni. Just in time too - the pianist began to belt out his rendition of Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror. The horror!

At the Omni Rannie and Christine hit the Internet on a borrowed TiBook. Just touching the machine brought out inclinations to switch. Seems like I’m the not the only one who has been considering the move. Rannie has too.

Spent the rest of the night talking to Matt about our anal-retentiveness in our quest for pixel perfection, and he said that he had developed a zenlike approach to it. He’s more at peace now. My zenlike approach? Screw this, I’m going to sleep.

Not quite the case with my latest redesign of Tribolum. Guess the practice of Zen will just have to wait till my next design iteration. Give me some feedback on how the site looks on your browsers, or how you find the appearance etc. See all Zen dissipate as I strive endlessly to please you!

So that was day one of SXSW. I’ll write about the other days another day.

Twiddling

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More tweaking to the layout to be done, but lunch has to be eaten some time.

Delusions of Power

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The White House spokesman just spoke on how the “US is now on its last mile of diplomacy”. It’s clear to me that diplomacy is defined as a united effort in war, rather than peace. The United States has been patient on this matter of gathering support for war, but there was no doubt that a united war would be its best attempt at diplomacy.

Congress’ response to France grows more juvenile each day.

But House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said at a news conference that applying legislative sanctions to France was not necessary. “I don’t think we have to retaliate against France. They’ve isolated themselves pretty well,” he said.

Them, and the millions who gather at anti-war protests.

Mixing It Up

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Note to self: When changing stuff in one blog, never have templates from other blogs open. I blew my photolog wide apart.

Photolog’s here, if you want it; and you know you do.

Pass the Green Card

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Broken Glass with a U of Arizona decal stuck on it

As Min and I were getting ready to drive to school this morning, I noticed a generous sprinkling of what seemed like pixie dust on my back seat. Upon closer inspection I saw a million diamonds of varying sizes and colours. It took me a while before I realised it came from what was once my car window.

I had been robbed. Again.

After last thanksgiving's break-in, my car was broken into, and the cords that once bound CD-player and car now hang lifelessly outside an empty rectangle.

Wow. I can scarcely believe my luck, or lack of it. But then again, this is America; and where I was living had now become the ghetto. Well, ever since some of the shadier folks moved in. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that "USA" was actually a giant Greek fraternity and all this was hazing of some sort to prove my mettle.

If so, I think I passed. Now hand me the green card.

Touchdown

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SXSWi goes on till Tuesday, but I’m back in Tucson already, thanks to a professor who wouldn’t let me take his midterm any other day.

It rocked. I’ll elaborate soon as I get this midterm over with.

Oh, and since the photolog has been redesigned, it’s high time I got this space done up. Will be doing that as well. It’s high time I got Tribolum properly validated.

Bamf!

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Gone to SXSWi in Austin, Texas.

Hidden Agendas

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There was a coordinated student strike in the country yesterday. “Books, not Bombs” was their cry, and a noble one. Well, sort of.

Tucson, arguably having the highest activist per capita, would of course join in the festivities. A bunch students here at the University of Arizona decided to hold their protest outside the school adminstration building, continually urging students to boycott class.

“Skip class! You know you want to!” was among one of the more innane rally cries uttered. Also protesting the hike in school fees (a thousand dollar increase next year), another protester hollers “One thousand dollars can buy you so much more beer and chocolate!”. I squirm in shame, half wanting to hide underneath the nearest rock.

A good protest, like any debate, should focus on a few main issues. This protest was all over the place. Just check this out.

There are times when I look at the youth of today and can’t help but feel out of place. They’re the Internet generation, aren’t they? What does that make me? I spend enough time on the Internet; and you who are reading all these blogs surely do too. But at the same time I’ve never owned a cellphone, nor do I feel a need to. On the contrary, somewhere deep inside I feel a need to step away from such pervasive technology; you know, take it slow. A return to basics. Living the simple life. Old school stuff.

It has become even more apparent of late. After two years of living in my apartment I’ve yet to learn how to program the VCR or use the automatic modes on the microwave. I’ve become my parents - our parents. Stuck in my routine and trying to make it through an ever-changing world in my own dogmatic way.

So it’s only right that I should come home after a long basketball game and head straight for my computer and broadband connection to rant about this. After all, I’m old school, baby.

Spent the entire morning and afternoon redoing the Visuals section. I’m one of those who spends a lot of time doing things that are never seen. Today’s labour of love is one such example.

The borders for all the photos in the visuals section used to be rendered in Photoshop because html didn’t support multiple borders (I liked mine 1px black, 2px white, followed by another 2px black). That didn’t bode too well for people who wanted to download my photos to display on their sites because the borders came with the photo.

I’ve solved the problem by implementing it all in CSS (though I still can’t get the large picture borders right). That meant removing all the borders in Photoshop (all 160+ of them) and reuploading them to the server. Batch actions helped a bunch, and I’m so very thankful I chose to stick with a uniform size for most of my photos.

Anyway, it’s done. Not without having first having imported a thousand entries from the wrong blog into the photolog, crashing MT by trying to delete a thousand over entries at once (checked every single checkbox by hand), and eventually having to delete my entire photolog and reimporting all the entries.

That’s the sort of coder I am. Anyone wants to hire me now?

I gave my first true standing ovation today. It’s not that I’m stingy when it comes to praise, but most of the standing ovations I’ve given were somewhat coerced - the view was blocked by the person in front of me standing. Victim of a victim of a victim.

Watching my second Les Misérables performance in four days, I was every bit the crazed Les Mis fan. Tonight me and Chris were seated front row center. What an astounding difference that made. Every nuance of every emotion, every interpretation of every sensation was now visible to us.

I don’t know if I’ll ever tire of watching Les Misérables. It has been my companion for so long, constantly reminding me never to give up fighting the crusade, or not to stop loving those whom nobody loves.

So to all the Eponines, Fantines, Valjeans and Enjolras, thank you for continually inspiring me.

About

The weblog of Lucian Teo who resides in Singapore. He is husband to the most beautiful wife, father to the most amazing kids. Photographer, storyteller, all-round nice guy [citation needed].

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