Making Light of Things

February 2004 Archives

Still Life

In my phototaking I’ve come to learn this: that the images that aren’t aesthetically the most beautiful may actually matter most.

The revelation was made after thinking about Tucson and what I missed most. Images of the Golden Phoenix Chinese restaurant and the steps of McClelland Hall as I pull up to pick Min from school fill my mind. It is such a pity that I have no photos of them simply because they don’t make “great” photos.

It’s the same with people, relationships and moments in life. The ones that affect you the most profoundly are often not the ones you’d expect.

Enough is Enough

CIA lies to United Nations. Bush administration lies about healthcare to justify budget cuts.

These are two (in a single day, mind you) out of many, many reasons why this administration has got to go.

Sure, Nader may fail. Kerry may fail. But Bush has failed.

The Patients of Job

In other news, I got a job. I actually received the call a few days ago but was debating the merits of forsaking my privacy for a more intimate fellowship with an audience I do not know or see. In the meantime, I’ll tell you that I’ll be working in a Christian organisation. That much I’ll reveal for now because there are things I’d like to share with you.

I stepped out of the bath just now and in one carthartic moment wondered, “can God use someone so ambitious?”. I’ll have you know I had great plans for my life. I still have great plans for my life. Plans I find hard to give to God.

For as long as I could remember, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve always wanted to touch people’s lives, change the way they look at the world, and perhaps be remembered in the annals of contemporary lore.

When the door closed on my pursuit of obtaining a degree in English literature I found myself lost. I drifted into a diploma course in international business. Though I grasped the concepts and theories, I could not envision myself being part of the business machine. At the same time, my pride could not envision me failing.

I don’t know what went wrong. How I landed here. How the whole business of web design landed on my lap. Photography. Information architecture. I live and breathe it. I spend hours reading up on these things. I love it, but not half as much as I love crafting a short story. To this day, I still dream of making it as a writer.

Continue reading The Patients of Job »


Distance is always a hard thing to deal with in relationships. I’m not just talking about geographical distances, even though it poses a very real problem for those of us who’ve studied abroad and left our beloveds behind. There’s emotional distance, physical distance (due to physical attractiveness) and even spiritual distances we have to be aware of in a relationship.

I’ve seen many struggle with relationship distance in its many forms. “We’re not what we used to be” or “things have changed” are often signs that we’ve allowed distance to get too far.

We need to come to grips with the fact that people change and circumstances change.

The sooner we realise that we cannot stop the clock on change, the better. I used to be like that - highly resistant to change. In my point of view a person who changed little was a person who had a sense of security in who he was.

Continue reading Distances »

Slam Dunk

Basketball legend Oscar Robertson tells the New York Times why NBA players ain’t got it no more (article requires free NYT registration).

Man to Man

Dear General Powell,

I just read the article “The Tragedy of Colin Powell” and wanted to communicate what I felt about it to you.

You became an inspiration to me after the Gulf War. It’s odd because I did not know you well. At that point I had no idea what you did (besides the Gulf War of course) or any details of your illustrious military career. I only knew that both General Stormin’ Norman and you led your men to save a helpless Kuwait that was brutally attacked by the larger Iraq. You were a hero. Those tomahawk missiles could hit a mailbox from 2000 miles away, I read. I swelled with pride that the good side had such advanced weaponry.

As I grew out of my teenhood I became more aware of the things going on in the world. I had so much respect for you that I hoped that you’d run for President after Clinton’s term was up. I would have voted for you, save for the little obstacle of me not being American.

Continue reading Man to Man »


Smart move: Buying many socks of the same kind to reduce the time and effort needed to pair them up every time I wear them.

Stupid move: Buying many socks of the same kind but of different sizes. Now I have to find socks of the same length, and they all look alike.


My $90 21-inch monitor bit the dust and died.

Buying Glass

I desperately need a camera upgrade. Though many of my techie purchases are impulse in nature, I’ve thought about it and classified it as a need.

I package my web design services with photography, as most clients do not have the original photography they used for their print media (brochures, posters etc.). Though I love my Canon G3 to bits, the shutter lag is a stumbling block when I have to take pictures of children dancing or people in motion. I’ve been eyeing the Canon 10D for a while now, but it is a colossal purchase.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Occasion for Celebration

Yeah yeah I know it’s Valentine’s. Buses coming back from town were crowded with after-date faces: some happy, some not so happy. I can only imagine the thick putrid smell of cologne and perfume mixed with the sweat of taking public transportation. I can only imagine it because I avoid downtown at all costs on Valentine’s. I do not try to catch a movie; I do not eat posh.

Fact is, the taxi-driver we had today even asked us if we were headed to the nearby seafood restaurant before we got on. He just came out of an hour long jam and had no intention of heading that direction again.

Today marks a number of things. It’s the third anniversary of my “Which Marvel Lover Are You?” quiz. It is also the first day of Tribolum’s fifth year.

Four full years. It’s been a time of transition. I used to apologise to my readers if I didn’t post an entry every 24 hours. After five years I know that no one in their right minds come here everyday. Do they? Do you? Doubt it.

Truth be told, I doubt anyone has been around all these five years. The one true fan I had I married. She still checks my blog every now and then, but with me hogging the computer and all (I have to blog every 24 hours) she doesn’t get as much a chance as when I was in Arizona.

Thanks for listening folks. For the good times and the rough ones. Like I used to say, talk to me. I’m listening.


In the future there will be various levels of consciousness. Virtual reality will become a reality. Within a virtual dimension, virtual reality will also exist, resulting in multiple layers of realities, each one deviating further and further away from the true.

Singapore Pastime

Sizing up people is an intrinsic part of Singapore life. Even at birth, mothers talk about how much their babies weighed, or how much hair they had. It is only the beginning. It won’t be long until the silent competition swings into full force. Suzanne could read since she was a foetus, Chris here could tango before he could even turn over in the cradle, Roger pushes the pram with me sitting it in, Georgia knew the final answer to “Who wants to be a millionaire”. We’ve all heard those, with varying levels of exaggeration (mine being the ultimate).

And it goes on into childhood, teenhood and adulthood. Which school you got into. How many As you scored on your ‘O’ Levels. I’d rather go to Temasek Polytechnic because their design school is more well-known. It causes us so much pain, it does.

I’ve never been one to have a winning hand at these competitions. Enrolled in a relatively prestigious Primary school, I was the only student who opted not to continue my Secondary school education there. Instead I managed to get into my Secondary school of last choice. Failed to go to Junior College because I did poorly for my ‘O’ Levels. Failed to live my dream of studying and then teaching English Literature because I obtained my one and only C for Literature at my ‘O’ Levels. My life plan shattered, I went to Nanyang Polytechnic (which I still mispell as Nanayang) and studied International Business.

Like a lottery ticket junkie I keep hanging on the hope that maybe one day I’ll make the big time. Maybe God has His reasons. He does. Right?

Continue reading Singapore Pastime »

MoveableType Moveable?

We’ve all been waiting for MoveableType Pro (sorry, the British education in me insists there is an e in there). Alpha testing will begin soon. I’ve signed up, but I’m not a big time blogger like Kottke or Michelle though I’ve been around longer than most.

I’m hoping that MoveableType 3 is as good (or better) than Pmachine’s very intriguing Expression Engine and carries a smaller pricetag than EE’s $199 USD.

Update: Here’s sending some love to Matt’s Wordpress. I’ve been keeping an eye on it.

It is Finished

It is done. After living on two hours of sleep for the last three days, the site is finished. Rather than port the existing design from Flash to XHTML, I redesigned, handcoded and validated. I’m probably getting paid peanuts for the job, but I did it mainly to help a friend out.

It was about three years ago I first designed the very same site that has been keeping me up the last three days. I used image maps and Microsoft Frontpage (you can all ostracise me now). Now smarter and wiser (somewhat), I stand on the shoulders of giants. Tabbed navigation by Douglas Bowman and Faux columns by Dan Cederholm. Combined by me.

Check out the new Allegro-ems. I bet your life you’ll find bugs. Just be sure to tell them to me.

Throwing the Candle into the Fireplace

The Web Standards mailing list recently discussed how some web designers worked solely on Macromedia Flash, and how the web was so much more than that.

Working on Flash alone is a tempting proposition. There is no need to study browser quirks or utilise hacks and workarounds. But there’s always the inherent danger of putting the world into the hands of a single corporation, not to mention the accessibility issues of a totally Flash site. It is the pointing of the middle finger to the visually handicapped, to bookmarking, to Google.

Having received a call from a friend to assess a prototype of a site she received, I laid out the disadvantages of having an all Flash site. Not to mention the initial .swf file on the homepage is more than 2 megabytes in size. That’s pretty much inaccessible to anyone with something better to do.

Flash is a wonderful tool. It is great for use on CD-Roms or even booths and possibly automated teller machines of the future. WHen used on the web it has to be tempered with a lot of care.

So after a frantic redesign on compliant XHTML and CSS, I submit a cleaner, less cluttered design. It just got rejected. They preferred the Flash. So now, after having only a few hours sleep the last few days, I’ve to do a port from Flash to XHTML.

Sleep is a much sought-after luxury at this point.

Recovering from Rebound

A mini-mega-career doesn’t soothe the wounds of a breakup. Just ask Justin Timberlake who “reaches” for Janet Jackson in life after Britney.

Naming Conventions

An engineer attaches 2.0 to son’s name. We’ll soon see a ++ instead of Jr.

Hair of Gone Door

I am convinced that there’s a finite amount of “hair karma” per day in the world. Only a limited number of good haircuts can occur within a 24 hour period.

Faith and I went for a haircut on the same day. She went to her old hairdresser in Marine Parade and I tried out the really old looking barber shop downstairs for the first time.

It started when he pulled the piece of cloth around my neck - you know, the one used to keep the cut hair from falling all over your clothes. Well, this guy had a sexier version of the cloth. It only covered till mid-thigh, which meant that I had to hold it up the whole time to keep from turning into a Sasquatch. Then he starts cutting my hair before asking me how I’d like it cut. I interrupt his frantic snipping to insert my own idea of how I want to look walking out of his shop. He mumbles and nods, then goes on his own business.

I’ve been to quite a number of barbers. Almost all of them comb out the hair to straighten it before cutting all the strands evenly. This barber had the fastest snipping speed of any of them, and it seemed that the comb in his other hand was only for show. I guess it was more like trimming a bush than the careful cutting of hair. When he’s almost done he takes out a long razor blade - the kind used to slit people’s throat. It’s rather blunt, but manages to scrape through (only the hair, thankfully) somehow. He doesn’t wipe it off, he just keeps it back in its sheath.

Oh did I mention the towel he used on my neck was a pale yellow? And that it was the same towel he used on the customer before me? He then combed my hair like Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) when his parents comb it. Pulled sideways across the breadth of the head. Gross. I mess it up just as I step out of the door.

Faith comes home a while later and tells me how her hairdresser fussed endlessly over her hair.

Life is always fair.

« January 2004
Main Index
March 2004 »