Tribolum.com Making Light of Things

July 2008 Archives

Spring Cleaning

Every now and then this happens.

A new colour scheme catches my eye. Some new-fangled idea. Sometimes original, sometimes borrowed. Sometimes frankensteined.

But somehow every time I put together a redesign, I’m hesitant to mix in graphics, as if the addition of images would somehow mar a purely (or mostly) textual design. It’s an unnecessary constraint I place upon myself, but it’s a challenge to create compelling design without any images.

There are many elements I’ve yet to bring back into the site, not to designing mention the template for individual posts. As usual, you’ll have to bear with the construction that’s going on.

Thanks for sticking around.

Really, thanks.

What would you say to her?

In the inaugural issue of Stories.sg, we reflect on the following question:

“What would you write to Singapore if she were a person?”

A 20 year old, identified only as “Zing”, wrote what I think is amazingly insightful.

But I’m not trying to make you something you’re not, I’m really not. I’m just trying to make you see that you’re more than dollar signs. You’re more than people just scraping by, dreaming of money and five-star hotels. You’re a hell of a lot more than just a good air-conditioning system. You’re everybody, not just the dream citizen; you’re the Malay kids skipping school, hanging out at Peninsula Plaza in black jeans and trucker caps. You’re the unemployed kopitiam uncle with his songbirds. You’re the schoolgirl holding hands with her classmate, hoping the teacher doesn’t see. You’re every one of them, but for some reason you just won’t acknowledge this. You like to hold on to this idea of you being this clean, perfectly efficiently city, when really it’s the dirt that makes you who you are.

Read her whole letter and many others at Stories.sg. Better yet, write and submit your own.

Five

Faith and I have been married 5 years. Half a decade, two amazing kids and a pretty messy home. What a ride.

I had meant for it to be special. I did. I wanted a short vacation away, and it was only at the last minute before booking I realised Caleb didn’t have a passport. Thoughts of flowers, spas and romantic dinners crossed my mind, but the bustle of everyday life washed it clean away.

So I was there, stroke of midnight, receiving a present from Faith, empty-handed. The day of the anniversary passed with Faith going back to work and I looking after baby Caleb. She came home that evening and I was still empty-handed. She was naturally a little upset that I had not made the effort to make the day special, but reassured me constantly that it wasn’t a big deal. Her present was nothing short of wow, by the way.

Typing this out now I realise how big a numbskull I am for not doing anything special. She has put up with me for 5 whole years, for crying out out. It may sound like a cop out, but I love her tremendously every single day I’ve been with her, and it becomes hard to “step it up” for the special occasions.

I didn’t have to play it big. A simple card would have made her day, and I didn’t even do that.

:(

Conversations

Me [to Anne]: What you are painting?

Anne: I’m painting a bird’s nest!

Me [to Seth]: What you are painting?

Seth: erm…I’m painting birdshit!

Anne: WHY?!? It’s yucky!

Gothere.sg Gets It

Streetdirectory.com was a kind of guilty necessity. We’d rail about how they made us pay for maps, and cheered when Singapore Land Authority hammered them for us, but SLA’s provision of Singapore maps was lacking. It’s pretty good for a gahmen site, but in these parts it’s like an able-bodied man coming in first at the paralympics. I should know, I run one of these gahmen puppies.

But I digress. We still crawled back to Streetdirectory in the dead of night, because that was the only way to get bus information. SBS’s journey planner does a terrible job at helping us get from point A to point B. We needed Streetdirectory like we needed pocket money from an abusive parent.

Needed. Until now.

Gothere.sg rocks. And I don’t mean conceptually - it rocks right now. You can change your destination by dragging markers on the map, and the bus route is changed dynamically. How cool is that!

Sure, the trains could be brought in to make a better journey planner, but that’s a small gripe. My main suggestion to Dominic who runs gothere.sg is this: Pair with Singeo. We don’t need 2 kickass Singaporean web guys cannibalising each other. A partnership would really bring the house down.

An example of how clued in Dominic is: I twittered how much I liked gothere.sg yesterday, and Dominic emailed me out of the blue to thank me for the tweet and also cited my work at MOE. That’s savvy customer relationship building for you.

Why We Have Children

This is something I’ve been thinking about writing for a really long time, partly because we have quite a number in our circle of friends who are wondering whether or not to have children, and partly because our government keeps harping on the subject but is doing a really poor job of selling the idea, the latter being my personal opinion.

Wow, that was a really long sentence.

When I attended the government dialogue session for young couples back in May, there was this candid exchange between the MP who was on the panel and a mother of two.

“What would make you have your third child?” asked the MP, “$10,000? No? How about $12,000?”, referring to the Baby Bonus scheme. Sitting there, it felt like I was watching someone bidding in an auction for a piece of meat.

That’s part of the problem with us isn’t it? That we often view having a family as an economic decision. Not merely monetary, but economic. That having a child will incur the opportunity cost of a high-flying career or late night parties. And you’d be right. If you’re a parent worth his or her salt, you’ll be conflicted with these choices.

With Faith and I, having children wasn’t an economic choice, probably because neither of us had the mental tenacity to strenuously debate this life-altering decision.

We had children simply because it felt like a natural next step. It literally felt like the act of putting your right foot ahead of your left foot in the act of walking. I think we gave very little thought to the consequences of our choice, and looking back I doubt any amount of extrapolation would have prepared us for its magnitude.

Children are a blessing from God (Psalm 127). We can truly testify to that statement. My heart is filled with joy just thinking about how Anne wore her pants on her own a few hours ago. Back to front, no less. Maybe the joys of parenting seem so trivial to the onlooker, but that’s what parenting is. It amplifies life. It stretches the gamut of emotional experience, tests your physical endurance and in the process transforms your mind so indelibly. Where once you frowned upon parents who brought their children out to dinner, now you can’t help but gush over how cute those kids are.

Does parenting make you stupid? Possibly. Unsophisticated? Definitely. Parenting strips away the unnecessary baggage that has been accumulating over years of social engineering. Your children will not respect your enormous job title or your educational qualifications. They do not care for your keen business acumen or your dazzling intellect, but a smile from you would suffice to light up their faces and a kind word would go a long way.

It is then you realise that they are educating you in the truly important things in life. And that at some very tangible level, you needed them more than they need you.

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