Making Light of Things

August 2003 Archives

Bachelor's Night

While most people spend their last days of bachelorhood partying, I spent mine relatively quietly without breaking anything special or out of the normal routine. I start work at a full-time job tomorrow, and somehow today felt more “bachelor-nightish” than the night before my wedding day.

I played basketball this afternoon, then headed to Faith’s parents’ place for dinner and a screening of The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers. Now I’m home, happy and a little excited about work tomorrow. I can’t say I know what to expect, but I definitely want to try my best at whatever I do.

You can count on me to continue blogging though. The very act of writing out my thoughts has become a faithful companion these few years, and it has brought me better clarity and new-found friends.

Mark, Kris and I will be walking the New Paper Big Walk this weekend. That should be fun.

When Ions Collide

Zeldman and StopDesign combine to redesign My Powerbook quivers with orgasmic anticipation.

Link via Vanessa.

Form Over Function

I got myself an Apple Keyboard. No point having to type on my Powerbook when it’s connected to the monster 21” screen. While I love the pure white keys and the translucent base, I’m typing as gently as possible so as not to stain the keys. There’ll come a point when I’ll probably mutter mild expletives and hit the keys after rechaining my bicycle or something.

Lost and Found

Handed in my portfolio of studio shots to the company today. I was dressed in a pair of shabby shorts and my decade-old nike sandals. I had expected it to be a simple delivery run.

But things aren’t always as simple as you plan them to be. I was asked to stay back a little while to explain the rationale behind my shots: why I shot the way I did and how. Like I mentioned beforehand, it is one thing to shoot opportunistically - you shoot because it was there, and another to create an image out of nothing. I had opted to take photographs of my Powerbook, my iPod, and my Victorinox Swisstool. Even non-photography buffs will tell you that shiny objects aren’t the easiest to photograph, but I wanted to play with highlights, treading somewhere between producing something with nice strong lines, and being burnt because my iPod was too reflective.

I walked out of the conference room employed, not as a photographer but as a web designer. I guess God does work in His own mysterious ways. I ended up with a job that paid better than the one I applied for, and something I feel definitely more comfortable in.

So come Monday, I join the rest of the herd in heading to work. God does provide, and He does so wondrously.

Going Slow

Played basketball at the neighbourhood court today. A teenager ten years my junior told me that I now seemed slower. He last played with me a year ago. In reaction I told him that it was part and parcel of growing old, but the truth took a little longer to hit me: I was growing old.

They say that white men can’t jump, and that the three-point stripe was invented to help white basketball atheletes keep their job. Asian people can’t jump, and to add insult to injury, we’re nowhere as tall as the rest of them. So most of us Chinese ballers turn to speed and work ethic. That’s how I managed to play ball my three years in Arizona anyway.

Now that age has taken my speed, I’m probably going to become one of those old “uncles” (they’re already calling me that anyway) who shoot the ball in their own odd manner. My only consolation is that Michael Jordan was still whipping up quite the storm at age 40. But I’m no Michael Jordan.

I’m me, and I’m growing older. But I’m not about to trade in my bball skillz for long socks and golf clubs.

Shot Between the Eyes

You should have seen me. I was like a kid in a candy shop for the very first time. Multi-coloured gel filters, giant softboxes and an army of lights had me spellbound.

An unfortunate side-effect of being spellbound is paralysis. I spent quite a lot of time just standing there, unsure of what to do. Though I’ve read up on product photography, I was a total n00b (l33t for newbie, and don’t ask me to explain what l33t is; it’ll just explode into more g33k terminology) when it came to the hands-on. While most of my photos involved making use of what was already there, studio photography involves more creation and less opportunistic photography.

I decided to stick to basic lights, though I now regret not having played around with the gels. It’s amazing how beat-up my Powerbook and iPod look when under the close scrutiny of a lens gone macro. Dust seems to be always prevalent and my heart aches every time I discover a small scratch that doesn’t disappear despite my best efforts to rub it off with my t-shirt.

I probably won’t land the job. I have no qualms about the experience, for I now know more about the industry and the job, not to mention the two hours of studio-use I just enjoyed.

Swimming with Sharks

Every now and then Singapore surprises me. It is not too bold and sweeping a statement when one says that Singapore behaves like a big city, complete with the characteristic hustle and general irritability. It is especially so for the inexperienced job hunter; one who has little to offer except a body and a thin ego as a corporate meat-shield.

But like I said, there are exceptions to the rule. I went for an interview with a photography house for the position of a photographer. I entered into it with the slimmest of hopes as it was hardly my field of expertise or education. After looking at my portfolio they decided that I needed more studio-type shots in order to better ascertain my abilities.

I spent that day itself looking for studios to rent, and though they weren’t too expensive, a dollar saved is a dollar earned when it comes to the world of the unemployed. I emailed the interviewer to ask if there were even a snowball’s chance in hell that I’d land the job, and if it were worth the investment to rent the studio in order to beef up my portfolio. Instead of asking me to move my amateur behind out of the way, they offered the use of their facilities.

There’s no doubt that it’s going to be extra scary working under their eye, as opposed to doing my own thing miles away in isolation, but it’s a form of job training if anything. After all, I’m as unsure as they when it comes to figuring out if I really have what it takes for this line of work.

I’m excited, and I can’t say I have been this intrigued for some time. It’s good to be excited about work, potential or otherwise, right?

Geographic Gumbo

I dreamt last night that Faith, Min, Louelle and me were in Arizona. I remember it being Arizona not because it looked like Arizona, but because it simply felt like Arizona.

We were standing on a beach that looked every bit like Newport beach in California (but this was Arizona). Three little needle like wavy things protruded from the sand and up into the shallow water near our feet. They waved about, like fibre optic decorations, lit up in a glowing light blue lightsabrerish manner. When they extended to their full length one of them broke off from the ground and burst open into a small round jellyfish. We shouted to warn people walking on the beach, afraid that they might unwittingly walk into the jellyfish and find themselves in quite the painful predicament.

Then we were walking back to our chalets on a pavement that looked suspiciously like the maroon-grey patterned pavements found in Singapore’s East Coast Park (near the lagoon). There were hanging lights in the trees, and a crispness in the air.

Maybe that’s the home I’m looking for. Not one fixed geographical location, but a mixed bag of goodness from every shore. Maybe that was heaven.

Crossing the Line

Vanessa’s post about the gender genie (a website that uses algorithms to determine the genders of authors of chosen passages) has me intrigued. According to this highly scientific tool, I’m supposed to be female. And consistently so. I’ve pasted more than five blog entries, including those where I mention basketball (which I thought would rank higher in testosterone levels).

Think I’m going to head to the bathroom just to make sure.

Junk Mail

Got myself a boatful of mail, thanks to the SoBig.F virus. If you’ve gotten mail with the subject headings “your details”, “wicked screensaver”, “your application” and “thank you!”, please DO NOT click on the file.

Just don’t click on ANY file you didn’t plan on having sent to you. Abstinence works.

Five Words

Went for a job interview today. Amongst the questions laid out in the questionaire, there was “List five adjectives your closest friends describe you as”.

  1. Serious.
  2. Funny.
  3. Seriously
  4. funny.
  5. Seriously.

Ok, so I chickened out and didn’t write exactly what I wanted to. But “serious” and “funny” were right in there.

Got Game?

When I play ball, I’m not the kind likely to engage in fist-pumping or trash-talking (well not THAT much anyway). I like to play a solid game quietly and have my contributions speak for itself.

Listing things down for my resumé is easy, but I’m stumped at the “personal profile” part. Am I an excellent communicator? Do I write well? Do I have a good grasp of usability? Heck, I don’t know.

On the courts you make a free-throw to join the team. Out here you have to talk about how you could have made the free-throw in order to get a chance to shoot it.

I’m just uncomfortable tooting my own horn. I’m too darn afraid I start learning how to breathe daily through it.

Writing Resumed

Mum took a look at my resumé and commented that it didn’t provide personal details like whether I was Chinese or had finished my National Service, or how old I was. In the U.S. we were told not to include such details in the resumé so that companies wouldn’t have to risk discrimination lawsuits. They simply rejected all resumés with personal information that incriminate them as being discriminatory.

Oh, Mum also said resumés can go beyond a single page to a maximum of two pages. All this time I’ve been trying so hard to it down - using a smaller font, changing the margins. With all the extra space I now have, I might even include my favourite colour.


Min left for Tucson this morning. There are times I believe myself to be elven, for the grief I feel is really too soon, and too deep for me to endure. I dare not look too closely lest I lose myself in tears.

Having spent more than two years living with her, it was so hard to watch her walk through those gates alone. We hugged before she left, and it was when I hugged her that tears welled in her eyes. When Mom tried to reassure her that everything would be fine, she looked at me and broke down, “But Kor Kor (Chinese dialect for older brother) not there”.

The scene loops endlessly in my mind. The small things that we did together come back to me. How we’d rush out to buy dinner so we could make it back in time for Friends. How we used to walk to school together. It is hard to remember all of it without breaking down in tears.

Faith cried this morning too, feeling responsible for taking a brother away from a sister. Not only is my heart torn apart by the calling of two lands, but the loves of my life. I feel like I let Min down in some way, not being able to take care of her, making sure she eats properly or going shopping with her.

I have the theme song “I Believe” from the Korean movie “My Sassy Girl” playing on repeat as I type this out. Min made me watch it with her. My heart feels like it’s about to explode. I watch helplessly as my sister walks out of view, my love’s futile reach not extending past the glass walls, let alone the thousands of miles that would soon separate us both.

I grieve, because I love. But I stop because I believe that God watches over her every step of the way. I believe.

Come home soon, Min. I don’t know how I’ll survive without you.


Min leaves for Tucson in the morning. I get to stay home this time, but her departure brings with it so many questions and longings. Home. Where its definition once seemed so certain and concrete, now eludes me.

The memory of Tucson lingers like a fleeting first kiss, its taste lingers ever so slightly, its existence caught somewhere between imagination and reality. Singapore and Tucson are very different lovers. I returned to Singapore because my friends and family were here, not to mention Faith who had endured more than a decade of waiting for us to be married.

But I can’t forget Tucson. Her dusty perfume or her wide open spaces. Her easy-going manner is such a stark contrast to Singapore’s hustle and bustle. Faith has agreed to go wherever I want to go, but we both want to be sure that whatever we choose lies within God’s plan.

My heart tears in two.


It’s amazing how you seem to remember all your dreams. This morning you dreamt of how we forgot Cheryl’s birthday because we were busy preparing for her wedding, and in the background a cat that had eyes set too close together (one of them fell out and got stuck near the other eye, you said) turned into a primary one student you teach.

I told you how I had to do a short takeoff on a 747 that had controls like an automatic car (the gears at least), and that I had to veer into a field in the middle of a running track.

It’s heavenly watching you sleep. I wake up each morning with a tingling anticipation of the new adventures you had while your eyes were shut.

Burning Bushes that Speak

Up late sending out resumés via the AsiaOne Careers site. Yeah I’m aware that putting the link to the site isn’t the worldly-wise thing to do as it increases the competition to the jobs I seek, but I’m tired of typing the words “I am”, a very common occurance in cover letters.

This is who I am. Stupidly naivé, lacking-the-killer-instinct me.

Going Once

I went to my very first auction today. I had seen the advertisement in the newspapers. It promised Pentium 4 computers, digital cameras and even mobile phones. Hoping that no one would notice the ad hidden midway through the classifieds section, I headed down in search of a good deal or two.

I’m now typing this on my Powerbook, connected to a monstrous 21” monitor. 90 dollars. It would have been less if the bloke standing in the back hadn’t been so bent on buying up every single large screen there was. The bidding would probably have ended somewhere around 60 bucks if not for the duel between him and me.

Photo-editing will be so much easier, given the larger screen. And besides, CRTs don’t suffer from the colour inconsistencies LCD screens do. These past few months I’ve been putting up photos in the photolog with my fingers crossed, hoping I didn’t oversaturate my bride and presented you folks with a tomato human being instead.

The experience at the auction itself was worth the trip. About a hundred people squashed into a tiny office, with old beatup wares in every corner. Not to mention the auctioneer’s seamless transition from hokkien (a Chinese dialect) to motormouthed English, complete with auctioneer slang. The exhilaration of being part of a bid and the resigned sigh when beaten sent my heart up and down the emotional rollercoaster. The triumph of winning a bid comes with a tinge of “oh no hope the thing is working alright”.

Seeing MacOSX on a huge screen is victory indeed. Wait till I fire up Warcraft! Darn, now I need badass speakers.

Here O Israel

The Bali bombing, then the bombing in Jakarta has brought terrorism so much closer to us here in Singapore. Faith and I had originally planned for a trip to Bintan, a popular tourist island in Indonesia, this weekend but chose instead to stay home.

We used to read and hear about Israel over the news. Terrorist bombs going off, or the Israeli military cracking down on the terrorist cells made headlines. As the years passed those headlines turned into sidelines, and the constant drone on the radio became a noise we had learned to ignore. I remember Goldfing who lives in Tel Aviv, a fellow Dalnet #irchelp operator back in the heyday, telling me over IRC how he had to log off from the net because bombs were flying overhead from where he lived. It hit me then that the news of terrorism in Israel which we had become so immune to had real-life consequences for many people who were in the thick of it.

Bali and Jakarta aren’t more than a couple of hours away by boat. This threat of lunacy has come to us, and living in its shadow has cast a cloud of depression and despair, especially over our younger ones.

Though I am much inclined to pin it on the actions of a particular George, I know that it is result of many factors, some foreseeable and others not. “Be patient, therefore, brethren…”, the apostle James tells us in the last chapter of his Epistle. He wrote this with regard to the oppression of the poor. So in the same manner I am reminded to calm down - it is far too tempting to pick up my own pitchfork and charge into the fray blindly.

I live in Singapore, a secularist country surrounded by Muslim countries on the north and south. Though we’d hate to admit it, a sense of uncertainty has crept into our lives. The government will no doubt tell us (like it has many times before in different scenarios) to mind our own business and pretend nothing happened in the hope that all will blow over.

Take this time to live well. Not materially, but spend to your days wisely. Tell the ones you love how much you love them. Work out the damaged relationships in your life. Leave no room for regret. There simply isn’t time.

Hunt has Begun

Now that the house renovations are more or less out of the way, I have officially begun the job hunt. Brandishing my unique brand of newbie optimism, I’m all set to clog the email accounts of HR managers around the country with my résumé.

Tell me if you’d like a copy.

Minor Scale

Hit a sour note with Faith this morning. I’m not the best of administrators and handling the renovation of our new place on top of doing some freelance photography is tying me up in knots.

Renovation costs are a tricky thing. They present themselves so clearly in the initial stages then somehow inflate to previously unimaginable proportions. It is not the fault of the contractor or the designer. Well, not entirely anyway. When good ideas present themselves I am too eager to give the ok. The final plan is quite different from the original we had set out to do. Fickle man that I am.

I just want to build the best home possible, deserving of the girl I love.

Never Gonna Give You Up

Lying on the bed and talking to Faith, with Ai (Faith’s sister) on the phone, and I’m wondering how Rick Astley got into my head and our conversations. The mystery of it is how his songs stick in every facet of our adult lives like a parasite that doesn’t go away. It’s a plague on our generation, and I wear it like a badge of honour.


Am I the only one more excited about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen than Keanu’s Matrix Reloaded?

I’m still upset that it’s already showing in USA and it’ll be two more weeks before it hits our shores.

Pirates of the Caribbean is taking way too long to come too. Why can’t they all do worldwide releases?

In Peace

“If we bury you face-down I’ll have a place to park my bike”.

The line from the movie Patch Adams helped us all look at death with a little more humour and a little less fear. We all instinctively treat death with a sombre attitude, yet it is something experienced by all human beings regardless of culture or colour.

Why do we naturally feel a sense of anger at the discovery of mass graves, whether of Bosnians or Jews? Why has humankind always taken great pains to ensure that the bodies of the already dead were “properly buried”? Is it a sign of respect for the dead or for the ones still living whom the now deceased has touched?

Why do we not live our lives with the same care and diligence?

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