Making Light of Things

December 2002 Archives

Flee the Mouse

After four days of exploring the nooks and crannies of southern California, we finally got tickets into Disneyland today. We had planned it so, expecting huge fireworks to usher in the New Year. There will be the fireworks we anticipated, but after spending almost seven hours in Disneyland, our feet are weary and it seems that the New Year celebrations may not be enough to get us out of our hotel room tonight.

Maybe we’ve outgrown the whole “magical Disney” hype. I for one have never been especially fond of Disney, preferring Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes characters. After taking in a few rides and watching the Disneyland parade in which they played the same Christmas medley incessantly, I think I’ve had my fill.

Fireworks every night, millions of balloons, giant mice. I can’t help but see a corporation that has made gadzillions living off their ever-extending copyright protections. It is not the protection of the mouse that has prohibited the probable enriching of human culture; it is the greed of the rats that run the corporation.

Free the mouse. Free culture.

Minority Report

We had quite a productive time the last few days. We hit Ikea, which was my sister’s main priority on this trip. We got ourselves some nice glasses, a CD rack, a foldable chair and some assorted stuff. Watched the Leo movie “Catch Me If You Can”, which was not too bad. Somehow Leo exudes a certain repulsion for me. He just looks like the kind of tubby-bodied bully from childhood.

It was weird after walking out the cinema and then realising that we’re nowhere near home. Everything in the cinema seemed so familiar; almost like a fold in the space-time continuum that protected us from the wave of destruction initiated by a shift in the true to alternate realities. Maybe I should watch the Star Trek movie huh.

Yesterday we went to the University of Southern California. It was such a hassle finding parking spots (as in most schools) but we managed the Science Center there and the beautiful Rose Garden behind it. I can see where the huge amounts of tuition these students pay yearly goes to.

On an impromptu whim we hit Chinatown. It was such a surreal feeling. It felt so much like Singapore that we actually fooled ourselves that we were back home. The level of urbanisation, the crowds and crowds of Asian people - it felt so much like home. We even found a Quickly bubble tea kiosk! We had our fishball noodles and bought half a roast duck back to the hotel room for lunch later. We had a chance to practice our teochew and mandarin. We weren’t the minority anymore.

We’ve grown bolder in our navigation skills and more comfortable with the idea that going places usually meant an hour or so in the car. It’ll be a long drive to Las Vegas and an even longer one back to Tucson from LV.

My butt’s now the shape of the car seat.

Road Tripped

The need for extreme urbanisation drove us all to head for Anaheim rather than staying the night in Yucca. So in a superhuman feat of endurance, my sister kept conversation (often one-way) going for close to four hours to prevent me from dozing off.

The Joshua Tree National Park was an eye-opener to say the least. Coming from a place used to the presence of Saguaro cacti, the ones at Joshua Tree looked every bit as mutated as the Joshua Tree itself. I’ll post pictures when we are home.

So, here we are, safe. Mickey’s waiting to rip our pockets. Gotta go. Have a wonderful New Year’s.

A Short Pause

After some (not much, just some) planning, we’ve decided to go on a roadtrip down to Anaheim and Las Vegas. I’m looking forward to visiting the Joshua Tree National Park, my sister’s all psyched for shopping at Barstow’s outlets. She even got a fortune cookie at dinner tonight telling her to “reward herself”.

I’m all prepared to bring back a shipload of shoes.

Made Perfect

To my dearest sister with whom I share not only times of happiness, but even times of fleshly death that His life may be made complete in us.

It is never easy. We stand so tall and strong one moment; and in that moment it seems nothing can topple our faith and our determination. In a flash we’re struggling with what is intellectually an easy decision to make, yet our wills find no strength to make it. We find ourselves at the bottom, so it seems, once again.

Yet it is in this same cold, damp, dark place where Paul reminds us that it is in His grace that we stand. Not in our strength of character or in the brute force of our will, but in His grace. No matter how far we’re fallen, no matter how stubborn we’ve been, His grace covers us so completely and totally and His love compels us unto Himself. That His strength be made perfect in our weakness.

Thank you for sharing with me the trials of your life. The glimmer of hope you hold on to has given me strength for my own struggles, worries and fears. I only hope my words, however few and weak encourage you in yours.

May His grace and peace cover us till He comes again.

Queen for a Day

Today is the one day shopping takes on a new face. The scent of perfume hangs no longer in the air, and the sour taste of panic takes its place. The mass migration of men from their garages and sports bars happens only this once a year as they swamp the malls in hope of finding last-minute salvation. They look at each other, each one as clueless as the next.

This is Santa’s second-string workshop, where crappy presents are made.

The Forming of the Rift

For many moons, the House of Sagatious and the People’s Front have co-existed in Hibernia. Those were peaceful times, now remembered only by the oldest and wisest. It would seem that the memory would also die with their passing.

It all began with the rise of the lady minstrel Carmen Finis-Annus, a child of the People’s Front. She grew in strength under the care of the influential but impoverished clan. Along with her growth in stature, her curiosity of the world around her also took flight.

She forsook the ways of her people, and in her heart she despised their old ways. She sought only her own good, living off the favour and grace the two major clans. As the House of Sagatious grew in importance and power, her ties to the clan she once called home were slowly severed, and she embraced her new-found dwelling place.

The cold winter would arrive and The People’s Front would be needed by the young lady minstrel again, but they had grown weary of her wandering ways. They weren’t oblivious to her manipulation. Rather, the old ways dictated that they extend the hand of care wherever and whenever the need arose. This time however, The People’s Front was hesitant for fear that the slow seething betrayal would spread into something more vicious and deadly. Despite the risk involved, The People’s Front responded to Carmen’s call.

Far would it be for Carmen to sit quietly and abide her fate. Her fleeting feet were fast, but swifter was the loyalty of her heart. In the short time that The People’s Front hesitated, she had initiated deals with Sagacious that would secure her safety for the upcoming winter. She would not be left without a choice. She would be beholden to none.

Just as the wintery winds swept over the mountains in the horizon, Carmen left the messager of The People’s Front standing in the cold without so much as an answer. She had done it again, slapping the hand of favour extended unto her. She knew they would come through - they always did. But where the better offer could be taken, it would be taken. That was the way of survival, so she told herself.

The ancients would have done better to know that.

Her manipulation split the two houses forever. Though no hatred existed between them, a rift had formed.

The People’s Front wept but for a short time as disapointment at the betrayal turned to anger, and the anger to resentment. Only time will tell if they would trust their old ways again. With many more winters to come, it would be inevitable that their prodigal daughter return unto them.

Should the People’s Front take her in once more when the need arises? Or should it protect itself from further betrayal and count Carmen a daughter lost?

The People’s Front seeks your wisdom, dear reader.

Mass Media

Entertainment isn’t what it once was. Not too long ago we were entertained by the scholars and geniuses of the age, be it Plato and Socrates who dazzled the people with their philosophies, or Shakespeare’s witty knitting of societal issues and human emotion.

Today the loudest voices seem to be just that - the loudest voices. Though one could argue otherwise, the majority of material on radio and television airwaves hold little intellectual value. Majority taste has deviated from drama and moved on to action. Art has evolved into a monster that feeds on the bottomless capitalist pockets. The rustling of money overpowers that of the leaves in the trees.

Portia's Poetry

There are times when we feel used, taken advantage of, trodden over. It is here where the Asian and American culture shows its greatest contrast. The American would undoubtedly fight it, claiming inherent rights under some obscure amendment in the Constitution while the Asian would suffer under its yoke, not wanting to raise so unsettling a ruckus. Yet, when push comes to shove, the seething bitterness is often more poisonous than outright rage.

I was just thinking the other day about people and their quirks. Sometimes we evaluate the decisions of others and are appalled at the lack of logic, so it seems.

“How could anyone want to do it that way?” we think.

Yet as we grow older we find more and more of these specimens. “This person’s way of thinking is weird; that person seems to like to do things in that particular way; doesn’t make any sense at all”. The examples accumulate, and very soon they form a list that is substantially long.

It is then you look in the mirror and realise that you, not them, could be the “weird” one. Your logic and peculiarities are not, in all probability, the yardstick upon which the Universe was made. You’re probably on the list of many others; the object of gossip. Your decisions and words shake many a head.

As Portia said,

The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blest; it blesseth him that gives and him that takes. Tis mightiest in the mightiest it becomes the throned monarch better than his crown. His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, the attribute to awe and majesty wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings; but mercy is above this sceptered sway. It is enthroned in the hearts of kings; it is an attribute to God himself; and earthly power then show likest God’s.

It would be premature of Shakespeare to imagine everyone rendered in awe by an act of mercy upon one who deserves little or none. The act of mercy itself would surely find its way unto someone’s list of other’s peculiarities and initiate a mass of rolling eyeballs.

Naked Truth

Min and I just came back from watching The Full Monty (the Broadway production) at Centennial Hall. It was astounding. Min proclaimed it the best musical she has ever watched. Me, being a long time fan of Les Miz, held back. Just a little.

It was an amazing blend of lighthearted humour and weightier issues and emotions. It switched between being juvenile and serious without skipping a beat. Splendid, splendid piece of art.

Celebrating Life

Life after exams. Even though most of my life so far revolves around education, the period of time right after major examinations of any kind still proves a mystery. Sometimes it comes with relief, other times elation. Quiet a number of times now, life that immediately comes after the burden was lifted comes with a strong dose of boredom.

Not this time. Watched the second installment to The Lord of the Rings yesterday. I am convinced that it will go down in time as one of the epic movies of our time, alongside Star Wars. There will comes days in the future where we sit our children down to watch The Lord of the Rings, just as many a parent has tried sitting us down to watch Ben-Hur. Mothers will rave about how cute Legolas was, in pretty much the same way the older mothers of today talk about Mark Anthony in Cleopetra. There is a certain attribute of time that lives on in our hearts; something we are rendered incapable of sharing to those who’ve never lived it, yet it binds all those who were there.

Happily Ever After

It was a nice calm relief to finish all of my exams on the same day. Not that I’d suggest doing it again, but it feels good to be out of it. I ended the day by driving to the mountains to catch the sunset; and then driving back into Tucson under a somewhat full moon that illuminated the cloudy night sky.

Now all I need is some ice-cream to conclude my fairy tale.


Three exams tomorrow and the astronomy online notes are beginning to irk me to no end. Instead of giving us the Powerpoint slides, we get jpgs of Powerpoint slides. Not hyperlinked. I’ve never used the backspace key for Internet Explorer so many times in my life.

Click here to see what I’ve to endure. And that’s one lecture.

Wedding Bells from Afar

I know this seems so utterly premature, but after reading this forum thread over at the Ricebowl Journals about the perfect wedding I couldn’t help but let my imagination fly once again.

Being the least musical of my friends doesn’t in any way impede my dreams that run wild and border on incredulity. I listen to my small collection of classical music mp3s and close my eyes.

I see myself playing Jules Massenet’s Meditation on the violin as I watch you walk slowly down the aisle. I smile, and it hurts because I’ve to concentrate on keeping the violin propped up against my neck. You look so wonderfully ravishing. My heart flutters as it does everytime I see you from a distance. Caught up in the moment I realise that there is silence in the hall - I’ve stopped playing.

I don’t know how to play the violin. I wish I did, because my skill with the classical guitar simply won’t allow me to play anything nice and have my head up to look upon you at the same time. Maybe we’ll just stick to CDs yah?

Why am I allowing myself to be so tied up in the details? All that matters is that you’re here. Now. Always. There’s music wherever you are, and your music has so utterly and completely capitivated me. I just want to be where you are.

Close and Yet Far

To my belovéd,

thanks for sharing about your experiences in China. Though it pains me to be so far away, I now know that our fates are not uncertain, but held very carefully and very dearly by His loving hand. It’s something I’m slowly learning I guess.

I used to think that I was relatively fearless, but now I see how wrong I’ve been. I fear losing you. I fear not loving you as much as I’d like. I fear not being the man I want you to marry and love.

I will continue to strive for all these things, not out of fear but out of diligence. Your strength and beauty envelopes me and it leaves me in awe, yet your gentleness and love soothes away whatever feelings of inadequacy I have within myself. It is such a marvelous feeling to know that your love for God is the manifestation of everything I’ve ever wanted; and that you watch over me, gently leading me back should I stray and loving me should I fall.

So in His wondrous way, God transcends all physical distances. I see His likeness in you, and I feel so close to you in Him.

Take care sweetie. I can’t wait to hold you again.

Nefarious Nephews

Loobylu got Big-P an Xbox for Christmas after reading the suggestion Big-P got from nephew Brian to convince her that getting one was a good idea.

Our Own Carousel

Min, Wenyang and I went to PETsMART after dinner tonight. No matter how I psyche myself into reading it at “Pets Mart”, I always end up thinking “Pet Smart”, a grammatical concoction that would only be allowed in colloquial Singaporean English (Singlish).

Watching hamsters run round and round in their own little wheels, Min asked, “Why do they do that?”

I’m pretty sure they look at us outside of their cages and ask the very same question. We go about our business of making a living and then spending, round and round in our invisible wheel. Like the hamsters some of us make things slightly more varied. Maybe two hamsters running the wheel together, or in short sprints as opposed to continuous running. But like them, most of our daily activities go no where.

I’ve a tummyache. It’s been like that the past few weeks. I hope it goes away.

Worldwide Phenom

Seems like I’m not the only one who lost my advance screening tickets to Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

The level of happiness on Earth just went down a few notches.

Having Faith

I’ve been calling Faith in China the past few mornings (when it’s night there). She’s seems to be having the time of her life working at a leper village helping build homes under Habitat for Humanity. Digging drainage and a fish pond may not be most people’s version of fun, but being the sunshine that she is, not even the winter cold has gotten to her.

I must admit that it is hard to stay happy for her. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy that she’s all right and everything, but being the paranoid boyfriend / fiancé that I am, worry just gets to me. It becomes difficult when the one you talk to happens to be the source of all the worry.

“I wouldn’t have had to go through all this emotional anguish if she’d just chosen to care about me”. “It’s my exam period for goodness sake”. “I wouldn’t have done this to her!” “I gave up [insert list 1 here] and [insert list 2 here] for her!”

Much as I’m ashamed to say, these thoughts try so hard to delineate me from thinking straight. God becomes a background static noise as I duke it out within myself and let the bitter waters run.

When I talk to her over the phone the dichotomy gets so much stronger. How do I resolve the joy of hearing her voice and knowing that she was the source of all this pain? Subtle finger-pointing resumes and it becomes all about us again. Her wanting to learn new things and me wanting her to care about … well, me.

God’s voice doesn’t stay silent for long. His call for me - for us - to give up our all unto Him beckons me again and I come spiritually weeping at His feet. I am so very weak and self-involved. You see, the lesson here was that having faith meant giving Faith up, and knowing that all things work for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

The Son shines on a new day, and His warmth reaches even the most selfish, the most wicked and the most unworthy of us all.


Photoblog Schematics

The web has changed the way we communicate. This relatively newfound medium not only takes our word at face value, it ties in colour combinations, usability and typography, amongst many other attributes of site design and blends them into a user experience. We’re still fuzzy on the blending part and how it all ties in.

The sharing of photographs, by its very nature, should have taken huge leaps and bounds over the Internet. With digital photography becoming mainstream, we are able to share so much more visually, having people see things our way so to speak.

Yet it is weird that photologs never quite took off. Don’t get me wrong, there are dozens upon dozens of great amateur photographers out there. Noah and Dawn being amongst my favourites.

Where Noah sets his photolog up as the main item on his site, with some degree of separation from his journal, Dawn integrates a photo a day unto her short blogged thoughts.

It is interesting to note that not many comments are given by readers regarding photographs, especially on dedicated photologs like Noah’s, or even my own visuals section. Is it because we’ve pretty seen all there is to it via National Geographic television? Have we reached a saturation point where the things we see no longer captivate us?

The main reaction of most to the leonid showers a few weeks ago was “that’s it?” as opposed to “wow”. It seems that Hollywood has done too good a job desensitizing us to the small things in life. Let me correct that. Hollywood has done too good a job blowing everything so large that nothing in life is big enough anymore.

I’ll probably be taking photos as long as I have a finger strong enough to depress the shutter button. I’m still hoping for some feedback on the photos I take. There are times I wonder if my own definition of what is beautiful seems mundane to the common eye. So here’s shameless plug, visit my photolog. Tell me if there’s anything at all your like, or anything at all you thought was bad. I’d just like to know.

Back to Basics

Many years ago I started a journal. One penned in ink, long before this blog was ever formed. Looking back, I wrote not only because I wanted to know my own thoughts better, but also because somewhere deep inside I wished that my thoughts would one day be made known to the people around me. To ones I knew, and maybe ones I never got the chance to. Years later I gave the journal away to my closest friend, who in turn gave me his. Our thoughts were made known - in its entirety - to each other.

When I started this blog I had meant for it to be very much like my written journal - personal … honest … truthful. I wanted to be able to jump out of my bed and start hitting the keys like a monkey typist gone mad. I didn’t want to have to think and consider the costs of total revelation. I didn’t want to hide truths, no matter how ugly, shameful and embarassing they might be. Maybe in my bumbling, stumbling walk of faith and my discovery of what being a Christian meant we might all obtain a clearer picture.

Continue reading Back to Basics »

Two Towers!

Got my tickets to The Two Towers for Wednesday 18th December at 4.10pm. Exams would be over by then and I was tempted to get the 10am ticket as well, but watching a three hour long movie twice in a day is … well … daunting.

Light in the Darkness

Global warming. Depletion of the ozone layer. The disintegration of moral standards. War.

Just when you are about to throw in the towel and give in to the chaos, Patricia’s pictures of snowflakes remind us that there is some higher order in the Universe.

Florida’s brightest minds couldn’t even count votes right. I wouldn’t be so quick to attribute the intricacy of snowflake design to sheer dumb luck.



We regret to inform you that due to a programming error, tickets for “The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers” were made available on our website for dates and show times that are invalid. We have worked with Century Theatres to correct the mistake, but our records indicate that you purchased tickets for a date and show time that was erroneously scheduled. The movie release date for “The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers” is Wednesday, December 18th, 2002. At this time, no movie performances are available prior to the film’s release date.

So much for me jubilantly rubbing it in your face.

The Few

As the semester comes to a close and we head off into the winter break, the inevitable time of reflection hits me. It’s been an almost hellish semester. We spent a lot of waking hours on projects, and when you think you’re in the clear, nothing like a test to wipe the relief off your face. But I’m really thankful through it all. I know, it’s probably a common reaction more than a conscious decision. We all start to get all mushy only after everything is over.

As with all near-death experiences, you grow closer to the ones you suffered with. Our group was an interesting mix. Joosup from Korea, who made sure all our financial figures didn’t reveal our true ignorance; Sato from Japan, who kept us working hard (seems to be a Japanese trait); and Chris. Though Chris possesses an American passport and all, I’m pretty convinced he’s an Asian wrapped in Caucasian skin. He understands my jokes.

There are times I just hate the creeping feeling that things won’t stay the same. Despite our best efforts we’ll probably grow apart. Chances are we won’t be seeing each other after we graduate. I want so much for things to stay the way they are, I really do. I want friends to stay friends. I want the people I end life with to be the ones I started out with. I don’t want new. I want old.

When I graduated from secondary school (that’s high school), I wrote a poem that summed up the feeling. Well, you could argue that it wasn’t a poem, it not having a meter and all. I guess it’s been a poem that’s stuck with me all these years.

In Memory Of things past and gone Tears of joy whimpers of sad Things that never of much importance seem People that never whole atmospheres change begin to take value. It’s true they say man will never learn to cherish an event happening a memory in making but will live to regret will regret to live an event over, a memory made.

I guess heaven’s heaven because there will be no more faded friendships or lost loves. I hope I’ll see you there.

It is Finished!

My head’s still spinning from a colossal headache, but I’m glad that Tuesday is over.

I gotta hit the basketball courts tonight.

One Day More!

…another day, another destiny

Finished two out of the four things I need done by tomorrow. It’s actually quite amazing how much work one can do over a weekend. Not that I’d like to spend a lifetime finding out.

Down Time

Belovéd has flown to China, which means no communication for a few weeks. I’ve a TON of work to finish up. Heading into final exams.

I just need to survive.


X-ray of wrist with screw from surgery

Went to my hand-doctor (whatever the proper word is) today. The question hot on my mind was:

“So doc, can I start playing basketball? erm…I’ve been shooting around with my left hand.”

My legs were still aching from the full-court game I had last night.

“You could start shooting with your right if you like.” “So it’s ok if someone hits me hard on the wrist?” “It doesn’t even matter if you fall on your hand. It’s healed.”

I’m back with a clean bill of health!

Excaliburistic Letdown

So, we finished the huge project. Printed it on heavy paper, throwing in a clear plastic cover and black spiral binding. Our pride and joy, sweat, blood and tears. As we brought it to the Professor’s office to hand it in, we could almost hear Jerry Bruckheimer-like music in the background and I could have sworn we walked in slow motion at some point. We lifted the weighty project to the heavens with both hands and bellowed our primal cry. It is finished, and we have triumphed!

Walking through the doors of his office with our spirits riding high, the receptionist looked at us and just said, “I’ll take that”. We passed her the project and waited.

“erm…you can go now”.

The music stopped playing.

Glimpse of Home

Hundred page report due tomorrow. Seven page paper due tomorrow. Internet project due next Tuesday, along with an Econ test and a project presentation. Ack.

I caught The Amazing Race tonight and after weeks and months of constant wishing they finally made a stop in Singapore.

It’s funny how the little idiosyncracies of home become so apparent when you watch an outsider deal with them. The humidity. That PIE is pronounced Pee-Aye-Eee and has nothing to do with pastries of any kind. The windy roads that don’t go north or south, but head a little bit in every direction. It was fun watching the teams struggle with all these.

I would have liked to watch them eat an entire durian though. That, in my opinion, would have been a challenge that we Singaporeans could all laugh at.

Shave the Wales

We get lots and lots of folks who talk about being environmentally conscious. Many would put up a link to their blog, some would buy the t-shirt. Few, though would consider it.

I was pretty impressed with Matt’s recent purchase of a VW Jetta Wagon. A premium for a car that could be run on biodiesel, God knows he could have gotten something dirtier for much cheaper.

It’s a step towards our talk. We’ll follow closely behind, hopefully.


After seven hours of school and another six hours of project work, I feel like just collapsing in a bunch. We FINALLY got the project done - all 100 pages of it. I think we’re just so sick of seeing each others’ face almost everyday.

Palpitation Alert

Oooo…Eowyn’s so going to steal my heart. That is, if Arwen hasn’t already trampled all over it.

Lucky Friday the 13th

I really hate to do this to you guys, but here it is…

Ticket for Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers, Friday 13th December 2002

Ok, so the spelling’s not perfect. But it’s my tourist pass to Hobbiton, Ravenshire, Rohan, Gondor, Lothlorien, Moria, Rivendell (pants)… Woohoo!

Maybe I do like to do this to y’all. Get your tickets! For the Fellowship!

Quirks and Quasars

There’s something very, very satisfying about having windscreen wipers that work. Not just ones that move from right to left, but ones that squigy every droplet of water off your line of sight. I never knew how much of an irritant a half-functional wiper was until mine decided to succumb to the desert heat and dust, leaving wet streaks as it made its way to and fro my windscreen.

It was almost like having a guest wearing muddy boots walk across your carpeted living room. No can do. No siree.

So yesterday, the equilibrium where procrastination and irritation met, I went down to Autozone and got myself a pair of new wipers. You should have seen the smile on my face after they were put in. Not without a twenty minute struggle which led to the Autozone guy showing me some sympathy and installing them for me. I drove off, activating the windscreen spray of water every now and then. It was a treat watching the new wipers part the red sea I had intentionally created before my eyes.

Next Entry: The joys of picking the pebbles out of your old Bata school-shoes with the sharp point of your compass (those found in a geometry set).

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