Tribolum.com Making Light of Things

October 2004 Archives

Commentary

I’m getting spam while despamming with MT Blacklist. Comments are mailed to me and they go in the thousands per day. I think I’ve finally arrived.

Jay Allen better get to work fast, because I’m this close to Wordpress.

Truth be told, I don’t believe in blacklists. Wordpress already runs on a secret directory for experimentation.

A Million Facets

Over the course of Tribolum’s existence, I’ve been asked numerous times about love, and how it makes the world go round. What should one do to keep the flame burning brightly? Should I go on loving when she doesn’t like me?

There are times when I see couples interacting and I get the gut feel that something’s not quite right. Or sometimes I wonder how couples will be able to address some large differences they have and seemed to ignore before they got married. Even though I don’t consciously believe it, I have enthroned myself as a relationship expert.

And then there are times when I feel utterly humbled. When I see couples so different individually expressing love for one another. Somehow, somewhere, the great divide is melted away, and for the moment the twain hold nothing in their hearts but the love God gave them for each other.

It is amazing to know that love comes in so many forms. That my relationship is unique and one-of-a-kind, as will yours. Tonight I lay for a moment, watching Faith sleep, thanking God that I am married to the most wonderful girl in the world.

Patching Up

The new iPod Photo.

Yeah, I know that viewing photos on your mp3 player isn’t new. The Archos player, which I eyed before I got the iPod, was revolutionary in its time. While Apple’s new offering isn’t ground-breaking, you got to hand it to them for allowing you to have it all in a mp3 player the size of a pack of cigarettes.

Virtually Forever

At some point in this internet generation, you’ve either gotten warnings from your parents or given warnings as a parent about meeting internet personas. It is true that some people aren’t what they seem online. You can quote the Rolling Stones one second and Plato the next thanks to the alt-tab that makes your knowledge seem so vast and intriguing. You can choose a subtly titillating nickname and conjure up images of yourself being a buxom babe while you really are a bald old man sitting in a dark room.

I have been fortunate in my making of “virtual” friends though. When I was working in Chicago back in ‘96, I took the bold step of staying with someone I never met, who had a different culture and was at a different place in her life. I took the train up to Milwaukee and stayed with someone I had known on IRC for years. I met her husband and two young boys. I lived in a typical American home. It was then I made my decision to study in the United States.

On the home front, I’ve come to know many very wonderful individuals who grew up with me, if you will. You see, as you progress up the educational ladder you lose friends who took different paths. When you change careers your colleagues become ex-colleagues. On the internet, the people you knew when you were 15 are the same people now when you’re 30. Whether they’re lawyers, doctors, homemakers, it doesn’t matter. Just as the internet provides the cover of anomymity, it also strips away every title you’ve ever earned in real life: you are what you type. Nothing more, nothing less.

I went out with Biscotti yesterday. We went to Ikea to buy some furniture. For some odd reason or other I felt absolutely terrible when I arrived. It was as if my head were made of lead and my neck made of wax. The world was moving around me and my brain couldn’t keep up. Add to that a headache that felt like my head was having a prolonged heart attack.

I’m used to being the strong one, but at that point you could have pushed me down with your pinky. It didn’t help that I threw up all over Ikea’s designer floor. Like the true virtual friend she was, she took care of me. I was the ultimate worst company anyone could ask for, but she saw beyond that.

So it’s true that the internet is filled with people obsessed with your ASL, but there are others just interested in you. Not your job, not your accomplishments. Not what you can do for them. Just in the words you type. Who you are.

To the Young

Dear Youths,

we shared our favourite songs last Sunday. I spent quite the better part of the night listening to them, startled at the similiarities in our Christian walks. When I was much younger I made a vow never to look down on young people, even children. Somewhere along the way I became an adult, complete with adult faults. While listening to the songs you chose, the songs you liked, it was clear that we’re in this together. We all struggle with our human natures, and God’s constant working of His image in our lives.

I played basketball this evening with Chris Rice’s Untitled Hymn in my head. Even though it was such a simple song, it really touched me. “Come to Jesus and live”. We often cling on to the vestiges of death we are supposed to leave behind. It was such a fitting reminder in an uncertain time in my life.

Come to Jesus and live.

Jay joins 6A

Thanks to Tedfox, I’ve been informed that my prediction came true. Jay Allen joins SixApart.

Maybe if I blogged that I’d get hired, I would. But it’s not on me crystal ball at the moment.

Updates

It’s been almost a week since I put anything down here, and even then it was a one-liner.

Things have been rather hectic for me the past month. When you’re freelancing, hectic is good. I’ve also registered my own business, which will deal primarily in web and print design, the details of which I will reveal when more things are settled.

Over the weekend I joined the Canon Photomarathon, hoping to win myself the new Canon 20D. The general consensus after results were released were one of “what the heck was that?”. No explanation was given as to why the winning entries were the winning entries. We were puzzled as to why a photo that was underexposed (the whole bottom half of the photo was a blurred black) won. It is times like these when I wonder if I’m supposed to be in the creative business; whether all this creative stuff is only understood by a select few who have their own secret handshakes.

Despite my disappointment (the audience did go “oooo” when my photo was put up on the big screen) at winning nothing, I learnt a few things along the way. Namely one old man who told me to go closer to my subject, which was being photographed by at least seven photographers. I was there first, but it’s all fair game. The old man’s photo won him a second prize, while mine looked like I accidentally pressed the shutter button. The first winning entry looked like that too, and I was hoping to capitalise on that.

I haven’t been feeling myself these past few months. Maybe it’s due to the decrease in physical activity. My heart-rate beats about 80 per minute, as opposed to the 60 I used to clip. My muscles also strain easier when I flex, and tremble when I consciously hold them still. I need to get a full body checkup, but I also need to get some exercise before my 2 week service in the army next month. It’s a chicken and egg scenario: I’m waiting to feel better to exercise, and I may not feel better unless I exercise.

It’s been very tiring, and sometimes discouraging, but I’m hanging in there.

With One Wish

You know all the scenarios you wish would happen to your worst enemy? One actually came true.

Bad Apple

Never thought I’d say this, but I was betrayed by my Powerbook.

I was what you would call an early adopter, being one of the first few to purchase the Powerbook 12”. I’ve absolutely loved it since, and I firmly believe now that PCs are meant to function mainly as gaming machines.

The 12” Powerbook I bought came with a mini-VGA output, rather than the mini-DVI outputs on all the other Powerbook models. While on the verge of purchasing a very expensive Apple Display, I discovered that my powerbook wouldn’t connect to any. I would have to continue buying huge CRT monitors that used VGA. I wanted to splurge so badly on an Apple screen, but their own design overlook cost them this customer.

Epiphany

Was preparing a lesson for Sunday School tomorrow and getting nothing out of Psalm 33. Sometimes you realise that God wants to speak to you so bad, but you’re busy trying to find out what He wants to say to someone else.

Middle Wing

After catching the second round of the US Presidential Debates, it becomes clear that both Bush and Kerry have run out of original catch phrases.

He’s wavering!
He’s scaring you guys!

Go back and forth on those lines, sneak in an implied “He didn’t serve in Vietnam” and state as firm as you can that the other party doesn’t have “what it takes” to be commander-in-chief because he’s never been one before (isn’t that why they’re having elections anyway?) and you have the Presidential (and Vice-Presidential) debates. Now that I’ve gotten that extremely long and grammatically-challenged sentence past me, let’s move on to an opinionated rant.

Bush maintains that the world is better off without Saddam in reign. That is true of course. But the world is better off without a lot of things. I think Kerry has a good point in his “wrong war, wrong time, wrong place” argument, the one good point being “wrong time”. This is especially true in light of North Korea.

North Korea (frantically waving): We have nuclear weapons here!

USA: Nah, you’re alright.

So we’ve attacked a country we now know has no weapons of mass destruction. Bear in mind that it was the very premise upon which this war was waged. We did not enter this because Saddam had “the intention and means” as President Bush put it. To change the underlying reason for war at this point in time is a blatant lie. Some people actually call this “inconsistency”. Ceteris paribus, war on Iran and North Korea seems more justified. Honestly, if any country had a chance to upseat the world’s lone superpower, there would be intent in every heart.

That being said, I don’t find a compelling reason to like Kerry. I don’t dislike him, and I find it hard to do anything different regarding the war in Iraq give the depth of the hole we’ve dug ourselves in. Bush is right in pointing out that Kerry will find some problems in convincing allies to join in the wrong war at the wrong place in the wrong time. But that wasn’t Kerry’s mistake. If if were a mistake it was Bush’s.

During the Vice-Presidential debates the undisputed point Chaney brought up was that the effort to spread democracy throughout the world was a noble one. It’s hard to argue with that because I can’t come up with anything better. But looking at the last two elections, it’s always been a voting for the lesser of two evils. If I had a vote, I would vote for the person who didn’t seem he would mess up as bad, as opposed to a strong belief in a particular candidate.

It is hard for any self-respecting candidate to step up. Primarily because the existance of a self-respecting politician is still a hotly debated topic. Add to that the amount of money needed to campaign. That narrows down the field to rich blokes who most probably ganered up a truckload of obligations to various sponsors with a million different agendas. I’m looking for a William Wallace. Or at least someone from the middle class, if they’re going to keep talking about understanding the needs of the middle class.

Is democracy, with America being the model, all that it’s cut up to be?

Notice I’m using the royal “we” when it comes to talking about the United States of America. That’s because everything’s all rosy in Singapore. We have a Prime Minister who isn’t the lesser of two evils. There isn’t a lesser or greater when there is only one from which to choose. Not much to talk about. Not the type that results in change, anyway.

I’m a political nomad, settling wherever thought can be provoked. And that’s my two cents worth.

Anger

Don’t know if any of you ever heard Seinfeld in Broadway, but he says “for men, super-heroes aren’t fantasy, they’re options”. He goes on to talk about men and their “super-hero” ways.

We all laugh at it thinking we’ve outgrown it, but we haven’t. At least I know I haven’t.

I was waiting for a cab today when a man walked past me and stood 20m in front of the road, wanting to hail a cab ahead of me. It was clear that he knew I was waiting for one. But in classic ugly Singaporean manner he pretended I didn’t exist.

It’s hard to describe the magnitude of the anger that boiled up so suddenly inside me. I almost made up my mind to walk right up and punch him in the back of the head. Or push him hard into the large drain beside him. It didn’t matter if he stood 6 inches taller and had tattoos all over his visible body. I could take him. I knew I could.

I stormed up, stared at him in the face, then walked even further up the road. I wasn’t about to let this idiot take my rightful place. Just as I was doing my storming ahead, a cab came. Still busy expressing my anger, I failed to see the cab. He got on.

I felt like following him in the next cab (which came 10 seconds later) and carrying out my grandiose plan of punching him in the head.

It then occurred to me that I was still a very raw person. Apart from my base instincts of wanting to get back what was “rightfully” mine, I discovered I had little compassion or kindness.

There is so much I still have to learn to give up to God. So much of my own self-preservation and so much of my pride. This is so much more crucial now that we’ve decided to start a company. Our work reflects our character. And being a Christian, my character reflects His work in my life.

I’m still a work in progress.

Biblically Correct

The new Bible Gateway (still in beta) goes tableless while maintaining the familiar look and feel.

Running

Faith has been feeling rather down in the dumps the last two days with a slight fever. She has been sleeping a lot. And I mean really a lot. Probably close to 15 hours a day. But I know that she needs all the rest she can get. Having to grow a baby inside one’s womb is akin to having to grow a muscle that size in that amount of time, or at least that’s what I tell myself. Just thinking of how hard and tiring that is is enough to make me very thankful for having her as my wife.

It wasn’t until this afternoon when I realised how tired I was. Even though I don’t go down to the office anymore, projects have been coming in at a nice clip. Today, after a barrage of highly-involved activity in church, I felt like a headless chicken running all over the place and going nowhere.

I feel like that whenever I stop writing. Writing here clears my mind and calms my senses. Or maybe it’s due to the fact that I’m sitting here in the quiet of night and the missus is sleeping. I have time to stop being the husband, or the youth leader, or the web usability consultant that I am in the day. At night I’m just plain old me.

And I write the words that lie on my heart.

Sucker

I’ve been extremely busy these past few days, finishing up some sites and doing a little web consulting. I’m still nowhere closer to a redesign of this site, though I’ve been planning one for the longest time. I think Van Tan and I are vying for the record of longest unkept redesign promise.

On Thursday Faith and I went to get an ultrasound of the baby. I can’t even describe the entire gamut of emotions that passed through me as I sat there watching a flickering monitor.

There are so many questions. Questions about the baby’s health abound. Even though I know that God gives us the best, regardless of whether it is what we want, one word from the doctor could change our life as we know it. Or as we envisioned it. I need more faith.

Here’s the photo.

baby_scan.jpg

Those are some really long (and skinny) legs.

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