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May 2010 Archives

Exit Strategy

It’s terribly embarrassing, but I had a colleague point out to me that I still use “we” when talking about my former employer, even in the present tense. I’m aware that I do that quite a bit, and my convenient excuse is that my current organisation is a statutory board under my previous organisation, so technically, we’re still one big happy family. I think I’ve gotten my finger on what it is:

It’s a case of classic elder-sibling mentality, where most of my relationships are strongly rooted in a natural tendency to protect and nurture. Even now I feel for my ex-colleagues at times when they seemed swamped with work, guilty that I’m not there in the trenches with them. Like Andy Croll once commented, I seem to have an overly developed sense of “duty”.

Letting go of things past is something I’m still learning, and it’s always easier to pretend that everything stays the same and our divergent pathways in life won’t change anything. I’ve let friendships slide over the years, but whenever we meet up there’s this half-truth, half-play-acting that we’re still close even though Facebook status updates and a shared past is all that holds the pieces together. As the years pass, we collect more and more of such pieces, eventually having to lay some of them down in order to move on.

Kryptonite

“Evey, please. There is a face beneath this mask but it’s not me. I’m no more that face than I am the muscles beneath it or the bones beneath them”

V for Vendetta

I’ll be drinking a radioactive toast to my over-active thyroid gland in a few hours.

I’ve been largely silent about my struggles with hyperthyroidism, partly because it’s one of those things I’ll always be coming to grips with, but mostly because putting it out in the public isn’t the most worldly-wise thing to do, given that employers are googling everything these days. But the truth is what it is, and there is more to be gained from the sharing of this experience than what could be lost going in through its omission.

Continue reading Kryptonite »

Bridges over Troubled Waters

You know how they say you eventually become your mother / father / Darth Vader? It’s probably a rite of passage we all take: initially repulsed by the actions of those in the older generation, then eventually learning and understanding why they did it, and probably in our own time having the reconcile with doing exactly the same thing that once repulsed us, sometimes out of necessity, sometimes because it is the wise thing to do.

It is the evolution (or degeneration, you could argue) of youthful idealism into pragmatism, and hopefully we retain some of the former, and temper it with some of the latter, forging some sort of practical, implementable steps to see the initial ideal fulfilled, even if it often realises itself at a compromise.

So it is with the whole business of warfare, weapons and the military. I remember the first time firing a rifle and hating the fact I was shooting at a target shaped like a human being. Violence should never be an ideal, but doing away with the ability to defend ourselves isn’t an option in the near future, or possibly ever, us humans being what we are.

The Navy's Stealth Frigate

My experience at this year’s Navy Open House was one of beaming pride. The seafaring culture of the Navy differs from the mud, dirt and grime of the Army quite a bit. It probably also stems from the fact being the crew of a particular vessel creates a very tight-knit community because of the confined space and everyone physically moving in a single unified direction. The ships are run like clockwork and there’s a touch of OCD in the details, especially the placement and storage of the great number of ropes on deck. Rope neatly placed in a spiral This is all necessary, the sailors tell me, to prevent people from tripping and falling overboard. There are enough small ledges and fittings on the ship to make unsuspecting tourists trip already. Space being a premium, steps up and down the various decks were also extremely steep. Slinging the tripod and carrying the camera while traversing these steps was quite a challenge.

As we rode the RSS Valour out to sea for a short spin, I could see the familiar skyline of my neighbourhood in the distance. It became clear that we needed to defend these shores, and I was glad for the many capable seahands who were watching over our borders.

Navy Sailors by their guns

The Navy Open House is open to the public this weekend at Changi Naval Base. You’ll see, amongst many other things, how the Navy coordinates a hostage-rescue and how naval divers are deployed from Chinooks, but most importantly, I hope you’ll be there to appreciate what these guys are doing for us on a daily basis.

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