Making Light of Things

January 2004 Archives

Stealth Fighter

Faith’s new electronic piano’s coming in the morning, so I spent the last few hours rearranging furniture.

Being the computer geek that I am, I tend to do more work in the dead of night than when the sun’s up. Moving furniture in the dead of night is tricky business. Especially when you have neighbours downstairs and upstairs, on the left and right. So I darn near tore my arm off lifting the huge computer table. It was only after I moved it when I realised I could have left it where it was.


In my last redesign of Tribolum, I noted that while content could be separated from presentation, the order of content affected the presentation. I had wanted to be able to float Tribolum’s sidebar left or right regardless (note to self: no such word as irregardless) of whether it appeared before or after the main blog content in the markup.

It is comforting to know that even Zen Gardener Dave Shea struggled with the same problem. The difference is that when Dave hollers, people answer. When I rant about web design, Faith (and most of the rest of you) run away screaming as if blood were about to ooze from your eyeballs.

Ryan Brill managed to turn this into this using a negative margin solution which I won’t even pretend to understand. It works.

Don’t know if I’ll ever use it, though. Much as I love hacks and workarounds, I’m cutting back and waiting for the browers to get their act together.

The Passing Of The Baton

Uncle Lucian, whom I was named after, passed away two days ago. He died peacecfully after saying his goodbyes to the doctors and nurses at the hospital in which he had spent the last three years.

Funerals always bring about a whole gamut of emotions. It is even more so when the you happen to be the namesake of the deceased. It feels like the story of the life that had just ended now continues with you; the weight of added responsibility presses upon your shoulders. They’re looking at you, because you’re the only “Lucian” left. There is a variety of gazes, some laden with expectation and others a resigned disappointment.

Uncle Lucian was a fine example of a life lived to the max. After accepting Christ as His Saviour in his late teens, he came down from Sri Lanka to Singapore when he was only 22. He left behind a place in his father’s business for a land that was unknown to him. All this in the hope that the gospel he carried in his heart might be shared with these strangers in a foreign land.

I am proud to be associated with so selfless a man and I pray that I too might be as giving of myself. I do not know the road ahead of me but I know that I want my years to be a brush-stroke on the canvas of creation, expressing exactly - without adding or substracting anything from - the glorious vision in the mind of God.

It feels odd being probably the only Lucian in Singapore. It feels like part of me died.

Crown Him With Many Crowns

It hasn’t been the easiest time for me. Chinese New Year is an unkind time for those that don’t fit the mould - the single and the jobless. Family gatherings mean questions: why are you still single, why haven’t you found a job, when’s the baby coming etc. It’s all part and parcel of catching up, I guess.

I was hit hardest during family reunion dinner (Chinese New Year’s eve) when we were called to lo hei. As there were only a limited number of people who could toss the fish salad at any one time, the elders asked that those working do it first as they needed the “luck” on the job. It didn’t help that relatives younger than me all found jobs they could talk about, or that I seemed relegated to toss salad with the rest of the retirees. At that very moment, I felt like I belonged nowhere. I had no identity. Freelancing, however you debate it, could hardly be considered a “real job” by the conservative definitions of our elders.

Continue reading Crown Him With Many Crowns »

Poisoned Apple

In the promotion of Apple’s new iLife, Apple acknowledges that Microsoft Office is the yardstick of a complete package. The graphic can be found on the Apple homepage (Rotating image, refresh if necessary). But here’s a screenshot of it.


Bloggies 2004

The 2004 Bloggie nominations are out. Tragically, Xiaxue didn’t make the cut. To be honest, I was half-afraid of posting about the Bloggies in case Xiaxue sent her commando-trained reader(s) to do a Ferdinand Marcos.

I find it disturbing that three out of five nominations for "Best Asian Weblog" belong to white men physically located in Asia. I’m not ragging on their blogs - Antipixel and Big White Guy are great reads, but there are plenty of great Asian "Asian" blogs out there. It’s probably the "white man lost in chink-land adventure" scenarios that appeal to the judges, who’d probably be Americanised / Westernised.

My predictions:

  1. Loobylu’s going to win best Australian / NZ weblog again.
  2. MT for best Web application for Weblogs.
  3. Blogdex for best weblog directory or update monitor.
  4. Textism for best European weblog.
  5. Mezzoblue for best Canadian weblog.
  6. Boing Boing for best American weblog.
  7. Heather Champ for best Photography of a weblog.
  8. Davezilla for most Humourous weblog.

Place your bets people.

Black and White

Paul Willaert’s Weblog features beautiful black and white portraits and opens my eyes to a beautiful neighbourhood very different from my own. I wish I had his guts to approach humans to be subjects in my photographic adventures.


The IRC Bible. Sacrilegious, but very, very funny.

Kill Bill, Bob, Bernice...

Singapore tops Amnesty International’s execution league. According to the article, we have the world’s highest per capita execution rate, three times higher than that of hand-cutting Saudi Arabia. I feel all bad-assish after reading the article.

Heck, we’d have killed Michael Fay if he placed his pinky on his can of spray paint just one more time. We might have even tried to execute Clinton for opposing the caning sentence. We’re like that - natural born killers.

We arrest people for changing their addresses and charge them with $4000 fines for looking the magistrate the wrong way.

There are many things I might not agree with, but if I had to choose between Singapore’s and America’s handling of crime, I’d pick the former. It’s only because we all need to satisfy our thirst for blood.

At the Beginning

We’ve been married exactly six months and a day after twelve years of being together. That’s twenty-four times more boyfriend-girlfriend time than husband-wife time.

God willing, it’ll catch up.

Preemptive Strike

Attack them before they attack you, I say.

A drive-through speaker at Burger King tells customers that they’re too fat to have a whopper. I applaud the bravado and honesty, even if it’s via radio frequency “hackers” (is the specific word phreakers?). Hey if you can sue fast food chains for your obesity, they ought to be able to do the right thing.

Not Shakespeare


Number one on Google for “Capulet and Montague”. Sorry if I misled anyone.

Freedown (loads)

Nick Bradbury, author of Topstyle, one of the most used CSS-editors around, writes on software piracy and how it affects him.

Aaron Swartz, accomplished teenage coder, calls Nick an amazing idiot.

The debate on the use of software (legal vs illegal) is interesting, but I must admit that Aaron’s arguments don’t quite hold water. A full blown-out war (exaggeration ©me) ensues on Schoolblog.

It was tricky when CSS files of Zen Garden submissions were copied wholesale or when Nick Denton “stole” Noel Jackson’s Fleshbot CSS experiment. People argued that the construction of CSS files took only “one of two hours in a text editor” (can’t remember where I read the comment), and therefore wasn’t a big deal.

Topstyle isn’t a few hours on a text editor. If it was even vaguely morally wrong to steal CSS files wholesale, there is no question about Topstyle. Some of the arguments on Schoolblog are disappointing, to say the least.

Aaron wrote on Schoolblog:

What�s the moral problem with me downloading Nick�s software when there was no chance of me buying it? I get the software, Nick doesn�t lose any money and possibly gets some free advertising. It seems everyone is better off; how could this be immoral?

It’s almost like a guy saying it’s ok to walk into the ladies’ because he gets some exercise walking about too.

Continue reading Freedown (loads) »

In Sickness and in Health

Faith is still suffering from a persistent dry cough. It has been more than a week already, and my heart aches to see her like this. She has literally coughed till she can cough no more; her abdominal muscles sore from the effort and her voice reduced to a whisper. On the ground by her side of the bed lies many mugs and glasses of lukewarm water, remnants of warm-water efforts to suppress her cough in the dead of night. It is needless to say that she isn’t resting as much as she should and it doesn’t help that the her job as a teacher is comprised of a lot of shouting.

She left for work at 6:20 in the morning yesterday and came home only past midnight, thanks to some charity show that required the services of her school choir. At this point I’m miffed by anyone and anything that overly exerts her. It’s been some time since I’ve heard her laugh. These few days she just smiles at my jokes because laughter would bring about bouts of coughing.

So pray for her cough and my heart; that we might come to know that all things - good or bad - are meant to drive us closer to God.


Is it just me, or have all Blogspot sites been closed? I get redirected to new.blogger.

Using the Web

Unlike the record companies that spend countless hours and dollars to track down every last doting father who downloads “Happy Birthday” without buying 19 other worthless songs compiled together with it in a CD, Sony Pictures has learnt to embrace technology rather than fight it.

With a potential mega-blockbuster coming up, they’re offering Blogger and Livejournal templates. What better superhero to champion the use of the web than our friendly neighbourhood Spiderman?

Broken Glasses

It takes two to perceive. Like I said on Dave Shea’s post on browsers and font-sizes, good eyesight is every bit as important to enjoying a good sunset as a good sunset.

I fired up Opera on my Mac to do a slightly more intensive cross-browser testing and found that Tribolum’s navigation bar didn’t look as well laid out and styleswitcher didn’t work. Puzzled I went to Eric Meyer’s site. The sidebar there didn’t line up. Half of Mezzoblue’s header was missing and his daily links had a line height of 0.5. StopDesign takes just about forever (Safari loaded it just fine). Even Zeldman’s site got messed up.


Frodo Nightingale

Faith’s been having a really bad cough and a slight fever. Add to that a busted big toe after a colleague swung open a door on it. I’ve been making honey-lemon-ginger tea at odd hours in the middle of the night and fetching her glasses of warm water when her coughing wakes her up. On top of that she has to sing as she’s the teacher-in-charge of the school choir who’s gearing up for a televised fundraiser. Despite all this, she still musters up a goofy smile that fills me better than any Elvish Lembas bread.

To the many of you who have been kind enough to defend me, thank you. I find it weird that I get more flak from folding clothes wrongly than I do from losing my wedding ring.

I’m not even close to perfect, and I share my weaknesses so that all of us (at least us imperfect ones) may learn from them. I see no point in repeating mistakes; there are enough broken relationships in the world.

Starting Small

I’m telling you: it starts with the small things.

I was folding clothes that had just been washed when I realised that all of Faith’s clothes were turned inside out. She does this to prevent unnecessary wear and tear. Being the lazy bugger I am, I just folded them that way. She’d just have to turn them over when she wants to wear them, right? That shouldn’t be too much of a problem, considering she only wears one at a time, whereas I had a whole bunch on my hands.

Funny thing is, I came to one of my T-shirts which was inside-out and instinctively turned it right-way-out before folding it. I stood there rather stunned for a moment, and the words came to me. “I have to love her as much as I love myself. I have to love her like Christ loves His church.”

I folded them properly. It’s the tiniest of details, but it reveals so much of our own selfishness.

Old LAN Sign

Happy New Year people! I spent the golden moment in an elevator trying to get to the top floor of my apartment block, missing the launching of the flares from ships off the coast. Then I spent the next few minutes on the top floor hoping some failure of a sailor would launch his flares five minutes after. While I was waiting, fireworks that lasted five minutes long were illuminating the sky, visible from the other side of the apartment block. Of course when I finally realised that and ran there, they stopped.

How did you spend your golden moment?

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