Making Light of Things

April 2002 Archives


Like most resolutions, my resolution to sleep early and wake early has been put to the test, less than two weeks after its inception.

The waking up early part is quite surprisingly the easy part, it’s the sleeping early that’s tripping me up. With the NBA Playoffs going on and SportsCenter highlights late at night, going to bed at 9, 10pm isn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

The smell of morning sunshine and the tingly feeling it brings is something I really look forward to. Reading my Bible over orange juice, hash browns and a croissant almost makes me feel like I’m sitting at a cafe in Paris.

Of course, I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been to a cafe in Paris. Or Paris. Or England. Or Europe. Blogger Comments x

This is Nuts

Stanford University is home to the nation’s brightest minds. Though none have actually won the Nobel prize for economics, they have revolutionised core financial concepts by their unique methods of saving scarce resources for winter use. Brown, furry and cute, they have somehow managed to terrorise the student population by jumping on people biking under trees, sneaking into dorm rooms and renaming hard drives. Seems like these squirrels are driving the students nuts. Blogger Comments x

End to Another Day

Another sunset to another day

A relatively lazy Saturday comes to a close. Looking at this right in the eye, one can’t help but stay amazed. Blogger Comments x

Like, You Know, Like...

There are those moments in all cheerleading flicks where the dumb blonde / brunette / redhead would say something totally ignorant and the rest of the cast would roll their eyeballs. Much as I hate to roll my eyeballs at anyone and would rather give them the benefit of the doubt, the rolling is sometimes an unpreventable reacion.

Me : Erm…do you know what bangs are? Her : What? You don’t know what they are?!? It’s when you cut your hair short at the fringe. Don’t you ever read?! (rolls her eyeballs)

Till now, I’m not too sure who had the blonde moment.

Blogger Comments x

Big Blonde

Angelina Jolie in Life or Something Like ItWatched Life or Something Like It this afternoon. It’s basically a story of a reporter who interviews a homeless who is a self-proclaimed street prophet, and is told that she only has a week to live.

The question is an age-old one. What would you do if you knew you only had x number of days left to live? Lanie (Jolie) has her carefully engineered life - the perfect job, perfect fiance, perfect body, and upon closer inspection finds that the life she has is not that perfect. It is not an intellectually stimulating experience and is highly predictable, but not a terrible movie in all.

When faced with the question, somehow I find myself not changing anything very much with the way I live. Whether it is because I am already living life to the fullest or a product of inertia I do not know. What would you do?

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Guys' Night Out

It’s been a while since I’ve hung out with a bunch of guys. I’m not talking about sitting in an upmarket coffee house sipping on extravagant cups of black gold. Somehow the best memories I’ve had hanging out often came after intensive menial labour. After a hard day’s sweat and toil, it was always nice to sit around and relax over a 40 cent cup of tea at the local mom-and-pop coffeeshop. There was a nice feeling of conclusion that gave us strength to face the day’s demands.

Whrtr menial labour is not available, a bunch of us hung out after three hours of basketball. We sit down for a short while, gulping down gallons of gatorade and making light of things that went on in our lives. Despite being Korean, Indonesian and Singaporean, we had fun at each others’ expense, and it was comforting to see that a sense of humour superceded whatever cultural differences there were.

It was a nice end to an otherwise uneventful week of work. Blogger Comments x

Not Letting Go

My heart cried today. It wasn’t a prolonged experience, an expression of grief or a reaction to any external stimuli. It all happened in less than three seconds at most, and yet it seemed my entire life flashed by.

Somehow, something inside me looked at the things around me and decided not to accept any of it. For those three seconds, I wanted my childhood back. It wasn’t a wistful nostalgia, but an absolute belief that if I hung on tight enough, I would be back when times were simpler.

Back when the playgrounds weren’t so child-proof. Where the slides were made of smooth marble, the see-saws made of solid wood, and where our toes sifted the soft sand underneath. Instead of the ugly spongy material upon which all playgrounds are built on nowadays.

My parents would be sitting a distance away. Young. Figuring life out for themselves just as I am right now.

Somehow, I’m still not letting go. Maybe if I wished hard enough. Blogger Comments x

The National Reserve

Yesterday I was moping about how the bloggers I had come to know were ending their blogs. Just when I was about to fall on my knees and do the Elijah “I am the only one left” soliloquy I discovered that my long-time IRC buddies had their own blogs. Alvarny, Dzorsch and Madseason all started blogging a few weeks ago, and kept their dirty secret to themselves. When I confronted Maddie, he merely replied nonchalantly,

You thought Cyberland died? Well, we’re the reserve forces.

Idiots, I muttered. I smiled. I felt truly blessed. Blogger Comments x

The Definitive Light

Ansel Adams' Noon Clouds, Glacier NP, 1942Just came out of the Center for Creative Photography where they had an Ansel Adams exhibition. He is perhaps the most well-known of all photographers, even to the point where his photos seem to have a commercial feel to them.

In the dead silence of the museum, it is not hard to look into Adams’ soul and the the emotion of his art. One of the comments on the wall that caught my eye was that Adams knew that light was a main ingredient in photographs, and he sought the definitive light - light that was revealing and profound.

How true in life, as it is reflected in art.

Blogger Comments x

Can I, May I, Should I?

12 of 13 US Cardinals to see Pope about priest sex

This appeared on the rolling captions on CNN News this morning. Couldn’t believe my eyes, but I’m thankful that it’s about and not for. Blogger Comments x

Virtual No More

Biscotti’s on hiatus. Another friend has quit blogging. It almost seems like an epidemic swept cyberland and only a few of us remain. Yet DW’s questions are not without merit. Why do we speak, and do we waste too much effort in communicating, when our words are transient as chaff in the wind?

Once the initial novelty of having a domain and creating an experience accessible to the rest of the world wears thin, you find that you sit at your computer as alone as when you had first started. Perhaps I write for myself. I’ve been one to talk to myself for as long as I can remember. My words here are but a lomograph of life, a haphazard chronology of thoughts and things. Writing is the creation of a time capsule of sorts, something to look back upon, a mental motion picture of times past. Maybe one day we’ll sit in a coffee house and watch reruns together.

Maybe writing here is a virtual realisation of my dreams of becoming a writer.

Or maybe like most, I write in order to communicate in the small hope that my words may lighten a few hearts and somehow make life’s journey that much more bearable.

In some deep part of my heart, I hope to have accomplished the last. I know not if I’ve been succeeding thus far, or if anyone has even been reading, but I tread onwards with light feet and an even lighter heart, in the hope that maybe one of my million entries might. Blogger Comments x

Win Dohs

Kissing a trophy’s all fine and good, as long as it’s not this one.

Link via Blogger Comments x


It has been a long time ago when Biscotti asked me to add more pictures to the top of the page. True to my procrastinating nature, I took my own sweet time. They’re up now, and in colour too. I thought I’d retire the old grey and take out my psychedelic dancing shoes for a spin. Click refresh, there should be enough pictures to go around. Blogger Comments x

Early in the Morning

Not being used to getting a full 8 hours of sleep in one sitting, I woke up at various times in the middle of the night. At 2am, I looked at my clock and literally spoke aloud, “man…three more hours???” For many to whom sleep is a much valued commodity, I was the odd one who wanted less of it.

At 5am I awoke only to have to sun laugh at my face. He had beat me to it. He got up at 4am, killing whatever voyeuristic plans I had of watching him rise. I went for breakfast and read.

Paradise. Blogger Comments x

Changing the Man in the Mirror

Early to bed early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise.

I’ve been wanted to do this for a long time. I’m going to sleep early tonight, wake up really early tomorrow, have breakfast on the grass, muse a little then head for my 8am class. Blogger Comments x

Cooperation Against Evil Corporations

Abercrombie and Fitch's Stupid MistakeIn the United States, the self-proclaimed land of “diversity”, racial stereotypes still abound. The most recent case being Abercrombie & Fitch’s new line of T-shirts that seemed culturally insensitive towards the Asian community.

When I had first read the news, it didn’t occur to me that the messages they chose to print on these T-shirts were offensive. Having lived in Singapore where racial differences were no hinderance to normal interaction, it took a while before I realised that “white” in the message on the T-shirt in the aboved picture could have meant Caucasian. In this case “Two Wongs can make it white” possibly carried with it the stinking air of Caucasian superiority. Other messages in the new line of Tees included “Buddha Bash - Get your Buddha on the Floor”, featuring the picture of a smiling Buddha. One can’t help but wonder at the caution exercised by A&F’s marketing personnel as they tread carefully across the minefield of racial stereotypes and cultural biases. It is akin to watching an elephant dance a ballet.

The good news is that A&F were forced to pull back the entire line after Asian-Americans everywhere emailed in to complain about the apparent lack of common sense. In California, Asian students even held protests, generating the news coverage needed to obtain a response from the clothing chain.

Despite the triumph, the few shirts that were sold are now being sold on EBay, some going for more than $200. Wonder how much a Ku Klux Klan mask would fetch in this money-motivated society. Blogger Comments x

Freedom to the Senses

It’s been a different weekend. Not bad, merely different. Quite liberating really.

A friend came by a few days ago to watch me play Dungeon Siege, and in my hospitality I offered him a round or two of dungeon crawling. It brought out the dormant gamer in him. As his notebook couldn’t support higher-end graphics he called a few days later to have another go at the game. Though most would think it a hinderance or an inconvenience, I saw it as an means of escape. Many hours in my normal day is spent in front of the computer, either doing schoolwork, typing out my thoughts, reading other people’s thoughts, or gaming. Being highly habitual and / or terribly inert I can’t seem to gather enough motivation to step away from it all and do things outside of this electronic virtual environment.

Thanks to the friend, I washed my car yesterday morning. By hand, mind you. Even down to the rims on the tyres. A mildly cathartic experience. All this connectivity available to us in the form of cellular phones and the Internet has made us forget the value of tactual sensations.

I caught up on my reading. Developed a slight infatuation with Eowyn, smelt the smoke of battles freshly fought, tasted the ash on my tongue, saw the glimmer of Anduril from a distance and heard the trumpets as they proclaimed the arrival of King Elessar. I lived this weekend. I hope you did too. Blogger Comments x

Driving Off In The Sunset

The one thing I first noticed about the America road system is how it all lines up into a grid. A very useful and often overlooked tip when searching for a place to stay or work in USA is to find a workplace west of where you stay. That way you’ll not face the rising sun when you drive to work, or the setting when you drive home. The strong glare (especially here in Arizona) is almost enough to blind anyone wise or foolish enough to drive with their eyes open.

I was driving home from coffee with some friends, heading west into the setting sun. It was a glorious sight, mostly due to my remembering to wear my Ray Bans. The golden sun low in the horizon. The endless expanse of asphalt shimmering with radiance. With a soft purr and a slightly contented sigh I think to myself: I love this place. I love it for the simple fact it is the stage upon which many memories of my life were, and still are being made.

I wish I could share the image with you, but it wouldn’t have been wise to operate a camera and drive at the same time. Blogger Comments x

The Whole Wraparound

This lesson on how to be a t-shirt ninja will have many of you grabbing the closest t-shirt around and wrapping it around your head. I can’t help but wonder if the Christmas tree in the background destroys the “coolness” factor the guy is trying hard to create.

Link via Zannah. Blogger Comments x

Triumph by Proxy

I’ve always been a closet fan of Volkswagen. Sure, the old Beetle wasn’t much to look at, but the new generation of VW cars are simply too scrumptious to resist. The one car that caught my eye quite a number of years ago was the Volkswagen Golf. It seemed to me, back in the days of my naviety, that it was an awesome combination of practicality and good taste. From what I learnt from my dad, continental cars were sturdier and more reliable. My mom, being the accountant that she is, taught us never to spend beyond our means.

So I looked at the VW Golf.

A picture of a silver Volkswagen Golf

orange bulletIt was a continental car with a reputation for quality. Heck, I heard my dad say that the old Beetles could even drive in high water.

orange bulletIt wasn’t ostentatious like a Mercedes or a Beamer. It looked like a Toyota Starlet, or a Nissan March. It would probably be affordable. Fact is, if it were within my reach when I started working, I might even bought the GTI version. More power!

Number two couldn’t have been more wrong. The small car cost a bomb. I still dream, of course, though one might argue that I may as well wish for a Lamborghini Diablo, since neither will come true.

So when I heard the news that Volkswagen recently unveiled the world’s most fuel-efficient car it seemed as if I had some part in their engineering triumph. Once thought impossible, Volkswagen managed to squeeze 100 kilometers out of 1 litre of diesel. Maybe my happy thoughts contributed some good vibe that assisted their efforts. I celebrate a triumph that is and isn’t mine.

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Bad Poultry For A Good Friend

To a friend from a land far away where sombreros abound, abductions a way of life, and kitchenware fly. And to any of you who is in need of a nursery rhyme that doesn’t end in utter death.

I saw your lonely laughter I heard your forlorn smile, your newly shorn head of hair befit your playful style. Yet something stirred beneath it what it is I do not know even from a distance your spirit seemed so low. I just wanted to tell you that though not saying, we care the many friends of long ago want you to know we’re there. I could go on forever and never have to stop but with the way things are out there Wayne Brady needs a job. So on this note I’ll end this song and ask you take a while to remember us who’ve fought beside you and then smile a truly happy smile.

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Intimacy Lost

The general premise is that advertising on the Internet has not been the financial messiah everyone thought it would be. With sites like Geocities and Tripod throwing enough popup windows to resemble a movie montage, the Internet advertising industry draws its last breath. Despite this failure, web advertising’s secret successes delve into the darker, more shadowy corners of our society. The Internet has allowed us, all of us, to interact with people and business almost anonymously, and it is there the ignoble qualities of man manifest themselves. Though the pornography industry has made millions out of their popup advertisements, even more prevalent is the sale of spy cameras, predominantly from a company that shall remain unnamed.

It’s success lies in the fact that it is able to reach out to more surfers than the porn sites by masquerading as an innocent household solution. It touts itself as a baby monitoring device, or a means by which one can capture memories to last a lifetime. Yet it boldly depicts graphics of scantily-clad blondes with long flowing tresses, its true selling point blatantly obvious, yet politically “correct”.

There has not been many who have voiced out against the sale of such “surveillance” equipment, and those who dared were quashed as the number of legal options open are virtually zero. It is very worrying to note that the sales of such cameras have skyrocketed, and continue to increase. I’m pretty sure the demand for baby monitors is hardly the driving force behind these sales, and anybody can deduce the voyeuristic intentions behind these purchases.

Some things in life are sacred because they are hidden. Some things are intimate because knowledge of them are privy to the chosen. The moral fabric of society is stretched thin when these lines are crossed. There is an overwhelming silence in the community today. We seem almost too busy to defend the light. Blogger Comments x

Back to Middle Earth

Fellowship of the Rings DVDFor those LOTR fans out there who have watched the movie no less than five times, our reprieve is near! The DVD is available for pre-order! I bet a lot of non-fans will be buying it just to screen capture Orlando Bloom (Legolas) and his golden braids. For the rest of us, we’re hoping the Arwen Evenstar (Liv Tyler) will be making more of an appearance in the next episodes. For the true fan, we all know that Arwen’s role is pretty limited even in the latter books. But surely it wouldn’t hurt to show us a little more of the scimitar-wielding Elven goddess right?

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Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery

VoodooPC's F-Class

My Pentium 3 500Mhz has been a faithful friend and trusted confidante. Hope I don’t hurt its feelings when I say I’d like a shot at Voodoo’s F-Class. Any of you readers out there willing to part with 5.5 grand to help out a starving college student?

…I didn’t think so.

Blogger Comments x

International Perspective

Comic of George Bush talking to Ariel Sharon

This appeared on the school paper April 10th. Thought it hit the nail right on the head on how the Bush administration is handling the Middle East hostilities.

Update on the whole copyright issue that is going on in the comments. Based on current precedent, as long as this website doesn’t alter the creation of the artist or make money from its incorporation into its content, or have any purpose that threatens the livelihood of the creator, we’re good to go. It also helps that Chris Britt is from the same school as I am. Blogger Comments x

Lord Of Transience

One ring to rule them all one ring to find them. One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

  • Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings

For many computer gamers, the ring in question could very well be the ringing sound of their Internet dialup connections. The one short telephone ring before all reality is sucked into the senseless abyss of the shrill shrieking sound made by the modem as it turns all things natural and analogue into a cubic, digital form man-made processors can comprehend. The almost silent proliferation of MMORPGs has taken the world by surprise. MMORPG stands for Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games. Though available for the past two to three years, its victims are now just coming out of the closet. Neglected families, lost jobs and a decimated social life are just a few of the symptoms of the MMORPG disease. Even as those brave enough to escape warn us of the impact of these virtual communities, the entertainment industry’s computer gaming arm continues to build the money-making machine that would earn their millions. Quite a few MMORPGs are slated for release in the near future, among the largest being NeverWinter Nights by Bioware.

Why do people do this? It is the temptation of a new life. A different life. In a different world. Where you could build everything from scratch once again. A world not bound by societal standards that limit you based on your physical attractiveness or how much you earn. Friends become comrades as you battle dragons, seek treasure and save princesses in disguise. Respect is given to them who cast the most powerful spells, wield the greatest swords and fire off arrows with pinpoint accuracy. A new life. Who wouldn’t?

Feel the warmth of the sun, breathe the fresh air. Look in the eyes of a child. I’ve to remind myself constantly to invest in what is real and true, and to enjoy life in all its analogue glory.

For more information, read “When Games Stop Being Fun” by Blogger Comments x

The Path Less Travelled

For Phuong, who after much travail and trepidation, and then with much courage, overcame this pass.

Spiderman Trainees
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Glitters Of Gold On A Canvas Of Blue

A bunch of flowers for Min, who unwittingly went for a hike.

Yellow and red flowers against the blue sky

Something to remember the day by. Blogger Comments x


Sitting in a cubicle and churning out SQL code isn’t exactly my idea of a weekend activity. What’s even more scary is the premonition that comes with it. It is almost like looking into the future of what work will be like after I graduate. It seems almost a pointless activity.

As far as I can see (which is not very far), stuffing code down a processor is hardly life changing activity. I know that I’ll cross the bridge when I come to it, and that it’s still quite some distance away. Hopefully I’ll find something more purposeful. Blogger Comments x

Answered Prayers

Technically speaking, it has not been the best of weekends. Though I’m amongst the blessed who enjoy a three day weekend, I had to return to school on Friday to work on a project. As fate, incompetence and sheer laziness would have it, I’ll be returning to the computer labs tomorrow afternoon to finish it up.

But above these technicalities, today has been one of the most wonderful days I’ve had in my life. For those of you who have been reading for some time, you’d have been familiar with my struggles with being a brother to my younger sister who no longer holds my pinky when crossing the road. Upon my insistence she agreed to go to a barbecue with my Christian friends. When we were travelling there, she asked, “Why do you want me to go?” A gamut of emotions ran through my mind as the dial on my heart ran through the entire spectrum, not knowing which frequency it was on, what it felt, or how to respond. After the longest pause, I answered her as honestly as I could. “I wanted to share a part of my life with you.”

I’m so very happy she came, and that she sort of enjoyed herself (I’m not pushing my luck). Many hours of prayer found an answer today. The sun shines through the clouds, and I feel the warmth of hope. Blogger Comments x

The Metamorphosis of Gomer

He smiled forcedly. His heart’s blatant betrayal of his mind was etched not-so-subtly in the canvas of his face as he said his goodbye and walked into the sunset. Much as he tried, the colossal debate that went on inside twisted his very being, and the cacophony of torturous voices seemed ever ready to cloud sound judgement.

I gave it my best shot. I put in everything. I always have…, he muttered silently to himself. Again he had to face being alone. No, being alone was fine by him. It was the fact that he was being made alone, and that was what really hurt. Being made alone by one on whom he had lavished his patience, his love and his companionship. He opened the voice inside his mind, and no words came. If one listened very carefully, there was the slightly audible sound of pain. A short, choking sound. He would stifle it. It was not the Asian way for a man to feel pain.

He no longer knew how to love, for the only way in which he had trusted had caused him much sorrow. Though he tried as hard as he could not to think selfishly, he couldn’t help but realise how little he got in return. He knew that his pain was exagerrated while he was in the midst of it, but he couldn’t stop himself from calculating his loss. He sighed.

He realised how quickly he had forgotten the many times he had betrayed love showered on him. How often he had taken it for granted. He too, was careless in his youth, hurting many who loved him. He had forgotten what it was like to be young. Much as he wished, he couldn’t deny the fact that he was just as self-centered back then. He tried to remember, to understand. He couldn’t. It was almost like an amnesia erased whatever memory he had of his thoughts in his youth. He was certain that this same amnesia plagued mankind, and all parents would never understand their children completely.

His heart felt empty. It was devoid of any feeling, and no more love was to be found inside of it. He lay back, and prayed that he might be able to reflect the love he had received in his life, and maybe that would be enough to protect and care for the one he loved. Maybe then he would find the strength to be selfless and giving. He breathed in. It hurt. He bore Hosea’s burden, because he knew that he too was once Gomer. Blogger Comments x

Fly Away

Arise my love my lovely one come. The winter is past and the rains are gone. The flowers appear, it’s the season of song. My beautiful one, arise, and come with me. - Arise my love by Michael Card From the Song of Solomon

I need to get away.
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Elementary My Dear Watson

The Real Mary Jane Watson-ParkerSeems like Spiderman will hit the big screens in Singapore a day earlier than here in the United States. Adding in the time difference between the two regions, that’s almost two whole days. As it is, Sony is already going pretty heavy on the marketing for the movie, and the trailer has become quite a common sight on the television. It’s not a bad thing, mind you. The movie looks good by many standards. It’s quite evident to see that the makers of the movie spared no expense when it came to the computer graphics.

Having been a Spiderman fan for some time, my spider-sense tells me that this movie isn’t going to live up to the hype. While the trailer shows promise of the movie’s ability to create excitement for the sheer adrenaline rush, true Spiderman fans know that Spiderman is a different sort of cool. X-Men have their mutant powers and gadgets. Superman has his “I’m all alone on earth, I wish I died in Krypton” melancholy. Batman has his lack of acting skills. Heck, put a rubber mask on Denzel’s face and see if he can pull off an Oscar performance. Might as well get Michael Keaton or Val Kilmer to do the job. Oh wait…that’s right. They already did that.

What does Spiderman have? Boyish charm. In spades. Sure, Toby Maguire looks the part, but Spiderman’s boyishness shows even when he’s in costume. For those of you old enough to remember Spiderman and his amazing friends, you know what I’m talking about. The sense of humour. Sony’s never been a very humourous company, so I hope they outsourced that part.

Kirsten Dunst as MJOne of the hinges upon which the success of the movie hangs on is Mary Jane Watson. Her own brand of unabashed self-confidence mixed with her deep and serious love for Peter Parker has won many, many hearts everywhere. The producers of the movie have chosen Kirsten Dunst to play this pivotal role. Somehow I don’t see Kirsten doing Mary Jane justice. Maybe it’s because I associate Kirsten with cheerleader flicks like Bring It On or beauty queen comedies like Drop Dead Gorgeous. Mary Jane is too dear in many a fan’s heart to be portrayed even a smidgeon different from what we know her to be.

Win our hearts, Kirsten. Be Mary Jane.

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Out of This World

Gamma Ray Spectrometer Orbiting MarsThe University of Arizona has these lunchtime lecture series on Wednesdays where guest speakers are invited to speak about their current field of work. I am fortunate enough to have attended a few of these, and I must say that people at the cutting-edge of their fields absolutely love their stuff. Last week a mathematics professor spoke about geometric patterns in nature.

Today’s lecture was on the exploration of Mars, in which the U of A has a huge stake in. The professors at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory have been hard at work these two decades creating instruments that would collect data from Mars. After two failed attempts (one of which failed due to some scientists’ persistence not to conform to the metric system of measurements), humankind finally managed to successfully send a satellite into Mars’ orbit.

Though the scientific nature of the discussion was intriguing, what really caught my eye was the passing on of knowledge that occurred within the walls of that lecture hall today. Professor Bill Boynton looked more like an archaelogist than a space explorer. There was the subtle crackling of electricity in the air. Though none of us said it out loud, many must have subconsciously realised that what was presented before us may well be a pivotal step into humankind’s future.

It is a future that lies in the hands of the youth of today. Many of these young people may go on about their lives nonchalantly and haphazardly, making their big bucks and bringing up families. Some of them, no, some of us hear the call to do something more. To look beyond the mundane activities of human life. As I sat there this afternoon I felt responsible for the knowledge that has been gathered throughout the generations. These giants that have gone on before us paved the way that some of us may continue in it. One of them now stood before me, sharing his life’s work. It was his life.

Never before in our history has such a majority been so affluent or so educated. Yet in a mob mentality we trample over boundaries our ancestors have so carefully tread around. We rush into technologies not thinking about the long-term consequences. “Let them deal with it” we cry, not knowing the magnitude of the burden in which we lay on our children and their children. We work only for the here and now.

May we learn the temperance of generations past, and not let youthful exuberance cloud our judgements. For we hold in our hands tools crafted over many generations, both with the capability to do both good and evil. Know your tools. Wield it carefully. We owe at least that much to the many who have spent their lives making ours better.

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Poets of a Newer Age

It is 11.04pm. I have not played Dungeon Siege all of today. I decided to let my brain graze on greener pastures.

I wrote letter to the editor of PC Gamer regarding the future of computer gaming.

The personal computer has reached a plateau in its function as a form of entertainment. Let’s face it, the “wow” factor we derive from cutting-edge graphics is diminishing by the second. 3D sound…4D sound…it all begins to lose its novelty after the initial two seconds. Then came the whole online community model. Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, Anarchy Online. That helped sustain the entertainment value in PC gaming for a while. The gaming scene is in need of radical change. Not just the adding of more bells and whistles. It is time to stop adding lights on the Christmas tree. Dang it, we’re already in April. Looking at the evolution of traditional entertainment media such as books and movies, the gaming industry could stand to learn a thing or two. For one, books and movies have been successful in tapping the one market that eluded gaming - the women. Books and movies have gone beyond mere entertainment and justified their existence by giving their audience the ability to live different lives, see through different eyes, and feel emotions they would never have in their own lifetimes. Entertainment derived from these traditional media not only caters to the imagination, but also the intellect. The advent of the computer or console as a mainstream form of media offers the distinct advantage of interactivity. Titles like Mayo Free Clinic and the Encyclopedia Brittanica failed miserably to harnass the new-found power. The poet, bard and philosopher have always been the forefront of cultural change. The gaming industry needs people who bring unique perspectives not only into technology or gaming experience, but into life itself. They need to be able to communicate their vision and ideas to the fullest extent, utilizing the technology that is now available to them. The PC will be their pen. The result will be an experience that combines the exhilaration of gaming and the intellectual depth of a good book. These people will be the messiahs of the new age.

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Alternate Universes, One Timeline

Dungeon Siege PictureThese few months have been a fruitful time for the production of RPGs, role-playing games for you non-gamers out there. I can’t say that I’m a die-hard fan of the genre. Sure, I’ve played one or two of the Final Fantasy series on my Playstation, but I’m far from die-hard. For those of you who can remember, there was a time when I struggled within myself to stop playing Diablo 2 because of the dark spiritual implications that came with the game. Fiction is an expansion of the human mind, and allows us to explore much more than is possible within a lifetime, but the line between fiction and dark spiritual propaganda is thin.

The movie release of The Lord of the Rings brought me many memories of computer games I played so many years ago on a green monochrome screen. The game was written in BASIC, and I remember manipulating the game to increase my character’s strength, the amount of gold he had and so on. Since then I’ve amused myself with the entire NBA Live series. RPGs have not made a comeback in the tray of my CD-Rom drive. Until now.

The initial wave was of course Dark Age of Camelot, which I blogged about only last November. 11 days after I blogged about how fascinating the whole new world was to me, I went cold turkey and decided to stop playing it because it took up an immense amount of time which could be spent more productively. Wizardry 8 helped me scratch the medieval itch I caught from Tolkien’s world. I was really waiting for the release of Dungeon Siege.

I would be amazed by the stunning graphics the moment the game ran. I was surprised it actually looked good on the relatively slow computer I had. Chris Taylor (the game’s creator) really it all laid out. The storyline was simple but not insulting to our egos, the controls were spectacularly ergonomic…and the graphics. Did I mention the graphics? Oh I did? Well the graphics were great.

Unlike NBA Live where I could play a game and then walk away from it after the final whistle blew and the game was over, RPGs allow no such juncture. It’s always about finding new weapons, meeting new characters, getting them to join your party, exploring new caves and so on. I know that my recent obsession with Dungeon Siege is in danger or running out of proportion. I guess I’ll save the rest of the game for summer holidays. I only pray I have the strength to press the CD eject button. Sometimes it’s the smallest, hardest button to hit.

With my history of falling in love with girls wielding staves (plural of staff), it is no doubt I’m the target audience for Dungeon Siege advertisements. Look at her. Green eyes, red hair, and a sword of flame beside her face. Who could resist?

laughs Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like “bad” girls. It is the intrinsic quality inside every woman that attracts me. Their ability to show such strength, such beauty and such vulnerability all at the same time. It is like watching a flower bloom in the snow.

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Wind Wings of Change

Just came back from a dinner with the Singaporean pilots who train here in Tucson. Many have come in gone in the time I’ve been here, their courses running only for a few months. As such, I’ve made many aquaintances, some friends, but there has been difficult to develop a deep bond that only comes with time. I look around at the students who are a more permanent fixtures. The peoplescape of the many dinner tables we’ve sat on have changed so much and so fast that we can barely draw our breaths. Every new face we meet, every new hand we shake, we do so knowing that like the planes they fly, they too are sitting on the runway, ready to take flight whenever the call is made.

There is the comforting thought that some of them will actually be stationed in Singapore. We could catch up on old times, when my own short flight here is done. Blogger Comments x

Reel To Real

Here’s the news on the von Trapp family which I had promised.

Captain von TrappChristopher Plummer. The stern captain (pun intended) ran a tight ship in the von Trapp household, scaring the heck out of the rest of us. He was last seen in the movie A Beautiful Mind, as Rusell’s Crowe’s psychiatrist. Like many of you right now, I too was struggling hard to remember what the psychiatrist looked like.

Maria von TrappJulie Andrews. Probably by far the most well known of the cast. I’m sure some of you read the news of how her vocal chords were irreparably damaged after a minor throat operation. She received a standing ovation when she appeared on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s birthday special. She now writes children’s books.

Liesl von TrappCharmain Carr. Charmain was 21 when she won the hearts of male adolescents everywhere singing “I am 16 going on 17”. She is now 59. She took up interior decorating over acting because she wanted “children and a career she could control”. She still appears in “Sing-A-Long Sound of Music” events across the United States.

Friedrich von TrappNicolas Hammond. Nicolas is still close friends with his SoM siblings. He played Peter Parker in The Amazing Spiderman back in the 1970s. He is now the scriptwriter for an Australian miniseries and currently resides there. His mother still has the telegram that reads “Nicky got the job”.

Brigitta von TrappAngela Cartwright. Angela spent three years acting in the series Lost in Space on television. She now owns a gift boutique with her husband in California selling her hand-tinted black-and-white photos. Her daughter played Maria in a summer-theatre production of SoM eight years ago. Angela cried when her daughter came out singing “the hills are alive…”.

Louisa von TrappHeather Menzies Urich. Heather starred in Logan’s Run, a television series in the 1970s, posed for Playboy (she wanted to “see what it’s like to be sexy”). She is now the mother of three children.

Kurt von TrappDuane Chase. Duane made only one film after SoM. He went on to get a degree, and then a master’s in geology from the University of Alabama. His wife is of Austrain origin and originally came to the United States as a nanny. Duane is now a software engineer.

Marta von TrappDebbie Turner. Debbie, a presence in commercials even before SoM went on to make more commercials and had a stint of modelling in Los Angeles. She got married and raised four daughters. She is now a freelance floral designer and markets homemade collectible Santas online.

Gretl von TrappKym Karath. In SoM, Kym fell off the boat in the scene where they were in the lake and someone had to rescue her out of the water. After SoM, she went on to do what she describes as “dumb blonde” roles in movies and television. She took time off to be a homemaker to raise her son, but is now back on the audition track.

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Calling Long Distance

I am fortunate enough to be part of a generation that grew up with cultural milestones like Indiana Jones, Star Wars, E.T. and Fat Albert. People of my generation often look at the youngsters of today and shake our heads. We all remember how NKOTB opened up the whole boyband scene. We roll our eyeballs as we watch NSync and the Backstreet Boys duke it out, each trying to claim that they were the original boy band. We know better. That’s until an even older (perhaps smellier) fart grabs us by the collar and shoves a black and white picture of the Beatles in our face.

Part of being in generation X (us old farts) involves having watched E.T. at some point of our very impressionable childhoods. I remember my E.T. experience quite vividly. I don’t remember the movie at all, but I remember the experience - the emotions, the thoughts, the feelings I had when I first watched E.T. on the big screen.

E.T. - The Extra TerrestrialI was FREAKED. I don’t know what possessed my parents to buy me an E.T. toy that had a finger that could light up, but E.T. really had me cowering. I was a five year old, and the last thing I needed to see was this thing with a long neck running in the woods making gurgling noises. I’d rather have had Freddie (Nightmare on Elm Street for you Gen Yers) than E.T.. At Freddie looked somewhat human. It really didn’t help that E.T. seemed slimy at times, and was a really disgusting colour to boot. BBBrrrrr….still get the shivers thinking about it.

20 years later, Spielberg decides to terrorise generation Zers (or whatever the 90s / millenium babies are called). E.T. hits the big screen once more, now with the technology of the ages behind his/her/its yucky dumpy body. I decided to do the brave thing. Watch it.

Drew Barrymore in E.T.Sitting there in the theatre I had zero recollection of how the movie ended. My childhood horror came back to me as I watched E.T. do his/her/its 100 meter sprints into the forest. It helped that I was much taller now, and confident in my abilities to remove E.T.’s head from the prehensile neck if necessary. Settled in, I watched the movie for what it was, and it was nothing short of a movie that changed movie-making history. There was the feeling of nostalgia as I watched Drew Barrymore, then a young child. I too was a young child. It almost seemed like we were old friends who have not seen each other for some time. We had both gone our different ways. She makes a lot more money than I do of course.

Flying bicycles. A land where the kids knew better than the adults. Trust prevailed over cynicism. E.T.’s not a fantastic movie. But if you’re a gen Xer, you’ll want to phone home.

I hear a question. “How do I know if I’m a gen Xer?”

You’d have known that NKOTB meant New Kids on the Block.

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Keeping In Touch

Just came out of a lecture on wireless technologies. The guest speaker had a business selling wireless solutions, so I guess that his perspective would undoubtedly be skewed.

It seems that wireless technology and pervasive computing has become a major topic in recent months. Bluetooth and 802.11 wireless standards have been touted as technologies that would change the way we live for more than a year now. Looking at Singapore, it is evident that we have stepped into this age of wireless connectivity, even a little too recklessly.

Anyway, everyone seems to be getting in on the hype. Though USA is a little behind in terms of cellular phones and related devices, the buzz is out and people in the Business college are just gobbling it up, talking about CDMA and frequency division multiplexing and other large technical terms one would never have had to struggle with only five years ago.

No one seemed to ask the main question that stared us all in the face : Do we need to stay connected at all times such that wireless technology is going to become a large part of our lives?

As it is right now we already spend too much time online. The fact that I’m writing this and that you’re reading this proves it. To think that in the near future the comfort of a book while commuting may not be available to me as a normal way of life is a scary thought. There is too much data and too little knowledge. Even as I sit here typing this I am still on an information high. Its symptoms often include incoherent babbling, rather than quiet and deep reflection.

I wish I could start a farm somewhere and read books till the end of my days. And write. And read them to children. Come farm with me. Blogger Comments x

He Got Han-Soloed

Those of you Star Wars fans out there who watched the digital release of the Star Wars trilogy will somehow recall Greedo, the bounty hunter who unsuccessfully tried to capture Han Solo. The great minds at McGill University in Canada have taken pains to investigate his death. The main question being…

Greedo pointing blaster at Han at pointblank range How on earth did he miss?

In a time of conspiracy theories, no one can ever be too sure if the dark side is the evil side.

Read the report.

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Hand-drawn picture of a houseMy feeble attempts at Adobe Illustrator. Truth be told, I have this very same picture (well almost the same) hanging on top of my bed. I painted it by hand on corkboard so that I could have a somewhat attractive bulletin board to stick stuff on to. Guess I can’t blame my lack of artistic talent on Illustrator’s difficulty of use.

In some ways, I’m glad I’ve not changed much from the time I was a kid. Blogger Comments x

Almost Heaven

Sleep is wonderful. Though I made a mental note to analyse my afternoon nap, it’d be really boring to blog about something everyone already knows. Bliss…sheer bliss. Blogger Comments x

It Is Finished!

After struggling long and hard with trying to get Server Side Includes to pull html tables and valign them to the top of the target cell, I finally finished the MISA website. Usability rules, so it kinda looks sort of like Tribolum. Well ok, usability plus my lack of artistic and technical talent. That forms a lethal combination. I’m done, things work. Ease of expandability for the future has been maintained.

Now I can’t get to sleep. Blogger Comments x

The Hills Were Alive

Sound of Music

Min passed me her recently-bought copy of People Magazine. The article she had wanted me to read brought back many memories. The article “Where Are They Now?” gave readers up-to-date news about the movie stars of yesteryear. It had special meaning for me because they caught up with Captain von Trapp, Maria, Liesl, Friedrich, Louisa, Kurt, Brigitta, Marta and Gretl. Looking at those pictures made it seem like yesterday, when in fact it has been a good 37 years ago.

Believe it or not, little Gretl is now 43 years old and the mother of a 10 year old boy. I’m sure all of us found one or more characters in the Sound of Music (SoM) which we could relate to. For those of us who grew up with SoM, we slowly began to understand Kurt’s desire to be a man, or feel the very same goosebumps Liesl had when she danced with Rolf. Some of us older ones have even quickened unto our own feelings much like Captain von Trapp upon falling in love with Maria.

Maybe I’ll get the DVD when cash isn’t so tight. It’d be great to have the hills come alive once more.

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Not The Work Of Human Hands

When asked by Questor to give a description of myself for Chronoscape, I was unable to come up with a quick answer. He then suggested, “Religious. Because you often seem religious on your website (Tribolum)”. I only hope that he does not mean that I seem to follow blindly, or that I appear as a farce who pushes my faith in people’s faces, because that’s the last thing I want to do. Christianity defines much (I wish it were all) of who I am, and my thoughts, decisions and thus writing often come from those origins.

After reading many blogs and talking to many young people from my generation, it can be deduced that most are apathetic when it comes to their beliefs. I don’t blame them, nor do I point an accusing finger, because I know that many religious institutions are pushy, egoistic and judgemental. The chieftest of these are Christian “churches”. A friend of a friend was burned recently, and I can’t help but suppress the anger that is within me. I only hope and pray that she sees beyond the human institution, and focus on the heavenly one.

I had wanted my sister to attend the potluck tonight, but she didn’t want to come. I felt hurt, even angry, for she had promised some commitment only a week ago. I couldn’t speak to her for some time without the sounding angry and disappointed. When I came home she came up and spoke to me, pretending nothing happened. It seems to be the dominant Asian method to resolve disputes. We simply pretend nothing was ever wrong. Part of me wanted to hang on to the hurt, another part wanted to lash out. A small part wanted to love, and to hope.

I walked to the kitchen, and made her a drink. I love her. If only I could tell her how much.

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Life and Death and Life.

This is my first Easter Sunday away from home. In many ways, it is my first Easter Sunday because we do not observe the ocassion back home. It was interesting to attend church service at 7:30 in the morning outdoors, and have the sun slowly rise and light up every face seated there.

I’ve never witnessed an Easter Egg hunt before, and I must say that it is one of the most traumatising experiences a child could have. I saw this toddler - a young boy - plod towards two plastic eggs when an older girl walked by and picked them up right in front of him. To have something right in front of you and have it taken away is not what I would consider fun. I wonder how many hours of therapy originates from Easter Egg hunts gone wrong.

I just came back from an Easter potluck which the Asian Bible Fellowship students had. We were sitting around, some guys playing the guitar, others sitting down and talking about everyday events and life in general. Someone’s cell phone rang. Tiffy’s father passed away today. The news came as a shock and in many ways changed the flow of the activities there and then. Though Tiffy wasn’t amongst us, we could almost feel her pain and sorrow, and for that moment we came together and prayed. Yet at the back of my mind I knew that we came to celebrate Christ’s resurrection, and that Tiffy’s dad’s passing was not the end but the beginning. It was a moment that made the message more real to many of us. It seemed a message that would ring loud and clear the whole of today, and tonight.

Death is not the end of the sentence, life is. Blogger Comments x

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