Making Light of Things

March 2004 Archives


We are a generation used to violence. There isn’t a day that goes by without someone killing someone else. When we read “20 dead and 150 seriously wounded”. we only go “wow, 20 dead”. without realising the the lives of the 150, and that of their families, have been changed forever.

Cost Analysis

I take digital photos because they cost nothing. No film cost. No need to print if I don’t want to.

Problem is, everyone expects a print when you had that big-a$$ed camera pointed at them that day.

Bottom of the Ink Well

I’m running dry. Dry of ideas; dry of inspiration.

I bend the knees of my heart and I’m just so thankful for writer’s block. Somehow, at the bottom of the ink well, when my strength is all gone, I know that I must find God in all of this.

Yearning is painful. But what love has no yearning?

Dancing with Standards

It’s been a few months already, but I don’t think it’s ever too late to announce a site launch. Kavanagh Dance is a fully standards compliant site that even has multiple stylesheets and a customised one for printing (ie. you won’t get the background and graphics when you print, saving you lots of ink).

Looks fine in all the browsers I’ve tested, including the extremely picky Opera 6. Fire away, people.

Easy as Pie

There are two types of humility.

I’ve watched enough kungfu movies to know that the uber-powerful hero always walks into his first battle as an underdog. He takes all the crap-talk and bashes the heck out of them later on in the movie. It’s the kind of scenario I was hoping William Hung would have pulled in American Idol. Didn’t happen.

The second type is the type that doesn’t make it to mainstream movies. He’s the peasant that knows no kungfu. He doesn’t boast because there’s absolutely nothing to boast about. He’s liable to feel beat down, but life goes on.

I’ve been pretty good at doing the first. There was always the innate confidence, even if I never showed it to anyone. I was never tops in class or anyting, but I held on the illusion of being special.

The “illusion”. It feels odd to call it that, because it’s something that has felt so tangible all these years. But as I grow older it dawns on me that maybe I will never learn the kungfu I need to impress the audience behind the silver screen of my life.

I feel so earthbound. So ordinary. So broken, and so real.

Not in the Rotation

It’s probably common knowledge that I’m an an Apple advocate. Despite the fact that my programs on my Powerbook quits unexpectedly (programs don’t crash like in the PC world) and that text sometimes run on top of the user interface (kernel panic). Yeah, I support Apple because I paid a lot for one. That, and I’m afraid of the physical beatings I’ll receive from Mac users.

The smallest things annoy me though. Apple is supposed to be the pioneer in creating good user interfaces. I tried to print something in landscape mode the other day. Page setup, right?

Mac OSX's Page setup window

It took me close to forever to realise that the middle icon (circled) meant landscape. In my world, the paper rotates, not the content. I don’t print landscape because I want to read English vertically like ancient Chinese texts. I print landscape because I want the paper to accomodate my content.

Show us your legendary response speed Apple. I’m guessing this will be solved only next year, when you decide to charge us another hundred or so for 10.4.

New Age Agriculture

Farming analogy.

I sold off my farm and used the proceeds to purchase an artificial biosphere with the neighbours. They said that this would be more productive. Not wanting to be left out of the collective, I changed my entire life.

I found out that I was the only farmer in this biosphere. There are goat herders, carpenters, and even the odd money-changer. I never realised this, but my neighbours don’t eat much of the rice which I produce. In fact, I wasn’t included in their master plan at first, but they thought it wise to have a farmer on board to do the tilling. Keep the soil fertile and all.

Continue reading New Age Agriculture »

Blogging Tool to CMS

I installed a trial version of Expression Engine and I am thoroughly impressed. It has truly expanded a blogging tool to a full customisable content mangement system.

It allows the creation of sub-categories, the addition and modification of input fields. While I may not (not yet at least) need all this for Tribolum, I am certainly looking at this to manage my client’s (currently my employer’s) websites.

I’ve been tinkering around with a lot of blogging tools, and so far this looks to be the future.

New Love

I am absolutely smitten.


Just spent the last two days at a retreat we organised for the youths. I can probably still outlast most of them, but the need for recuperation pulls me to bed much stronger than years past.

One thing’s for sure. I ain’t getting any younger.

Quarter Year Resolution

I am going to carry my camera everywhere I go. Even if it’s bloody heavy.

Oh, did I mention I got a Canon 10D?

Looking into Infinity

Pride is like holding a mirror up against another mirror. When you finally look past one image of yourself you come to another. And another. And another.

New Age Marketing

I’m sure if you’ve been on any kind of instant messaging for some time you’ve received messages from Irina or Helen telling you to go to their adult websites. Having been “spammed” the last two days I received a message from an unknown person.

221777822: hi there!
Me: vewve
221777822: ��??
Me: just testing.
Me: who’s this?
221777822: my name is JC, and I’m contacting you from CB Systems, a company that is dedicated to providing Internet services. Do you, or your company, have a web site?
Me: why are you asking?
221777822: because our company offers them…
Me: amazing…icq telemarketing.
221777822: new age stuff…
Me: sure is.
Me: would suck if i told you that you’re talking to a web designer huh.
Me: so does your company need a website done?
221777822: actually, that’s good to know. so i’m guessing that if i offer you a high impact website for a really cheap price, you won’t say yes…
Me: well…i’m free…so unless you’re going to pay me to have you make a website for me…
221777822: hehehe… anyway, thanks for your time, always good to chat with a fellow worker…
Me: have a good one J.

I typed nonsense to see if the automated bot (I assumed) would give the standard introduction. But wow, this is a real living breathing person on the other side trying all possible ICQ numbers in hopes of landing a job. Since the insurance agents haven’t done this, I’m assuming (again) that the web design market is more saturated than insurance. They call it “financial advising” these days.

It was good to talk to J. Somehow I knew that I provided him that little bit of real (friendly) human contact in what has to be a really long tedious task.

Wrong Turn at Albuquerque

I’m following very keenly the going-ons at SXSWi. It is a weak substitute to actually being there, but the four-figured airfare was an obstacle just too great to tackle. I remember the high of exchanging ideas and redefining the future, all while enjoying quirky and fun-loving company.

I wish I were there. Keep me updated, Matt.

Looking Young

I met Raynor today at church, a classmate of Casandra.

We don’t have too many tech-loving people in church (different from people studying tech-related courses in school), so it was refreshing to talk to someone who didn’t wince when I mentioned PHP.

Raynor seemed so focused and clear on what he wanted to do. Work on system backends with the tools he picked up outside normal classwork. Talking to him I was made to remember those days.

I wanted to be a writer, and in many ways, it is still something I want to do. Somewhere along the way, as God would have it, I lost my way and found myself standing on a path I never thought I’d tread. Here I was, so similar to Raynor’s dream of his future. And yet his dream - my reality - wasn’t what I dreamt I’d do.

I’m thankful to be here. It’s just that Raynor’s youthful confidence scared me that I had lost my own.

Permutations and Combinations

Seems like I’m having more problems than just colour combinations.

I speak English differently in different situations. It is not an act of pretense. When I was working in Chicago, I had an angry client on the other end of the line who wouldn’t speak to me because he couldn’t understand what I was saying. Two days later, I adopted an accent palatable to the American businessman.

So when in America, I speak as one of them. When I speak with Malay friends, I adopt a different form. Basketball Singlish is different from business English. It seemed all quite clear until recently.

It started out in when I met Andrea and Kristen. They spoke an interesting mix of proper English and Singlish. Andrea had a slight Aussie accent while I couldn’t for the life of me place Kristen’s. It didn’t help that Kristen’s blonde hair contradicted her grasp of the local slangs. I spent most of the time silent, my subconscious messing up my ability to speak.

Tonight I played basketball with Felix, a friend made in teenage days who became a lawyer. Singapore basketball talk consists of various Chinese dialects peppered with mild expletives. It is very similar to basketball trash-talk in America. Somehow Felix’s semi-complex English phrases didn’t register at all. I had to have him repeat himself so many times he must have thought I was deaf.

Colour Combs

I’ve toyed around with red colour combinations in my web designs and found it to be challenging, but doable. The corporate colour now is green. I’ve been searching high and low and have not found an attractive site that uses green effectively.

Oh, by the way, the corporate colour is a dark green, not a light one. So the great Hicks Design is out.

There’s also the issue of accessibility for the colour-blind, who perceive dark green as dark grey.

Click on X

No better reason to switch to web standards.

Azul Interactive insists that I use IE 4 in order to surf the site.

In the Beginning

Exactly 28 years ago, on a day not unlike today, an expectant mother lay on a bed in the maternity ward at Mount Alvernia hospital. Cries were heard and a baby was born.

Slightly more than a year later, another baby too was born at the same hospital.

Many things would transpire before the two babies met again many years later. They would fall in love and marry. I do not know what happens later because those chapters have yet to be written.

Happy birthday dear. It’s amazing how God brought you into this world and into my life.

A Rose By Any Other Name

Quoting from 1 source: Plagiarism. 2 sources: Essay. 30 sources: Dissertation. 100 sources: Thesis.

As Fair as the Dawn

We watched Ryan and Trista’s wedding tonight. It was like roadkill: we never meant to watch it, but were glued to the screen, endlessly repeating our amazement at how so low a show made it to primetime television.

As I watched Ryan standing there waiting for Trista, I was reminded of our wedding day. How I stood there for you. I didn’t feel lonely, even though I stood there alone. I was captivated by the moment, like everyone else in the hall.

It was like watching a sunrise. I knew you would eventually appear, but what I had no clue about was how wondrously radiant you would be. And then you came, lighting up the hallway and warming up my heart. I would have run to you but I stood there paralysed. Maybe it was the clapping or the squeals of your school-children, or the music that drifted in and out of my consciousness. I was utterly spellbound.

It wasn’t until you held my hand and stood beside me that I realised where I was. I awoke to a reality that mirrored the wonder and beauty of the fairytale I had witnessed when you walked down that aisle.


Working in a Christian organisation is vastly different from working anywhere else. In a normal corporation there are so many more variations to the way you can play your cards. You could be the tyrant or the dragon lady, play it sneaky or nice. There’s so much to watch out for. Is that a knife handle sticking out of my back?

One of the things that struck me most these few days of working was that though the people weren’t perfect, they openly admitted to the fact. I saw a heated argument dissipate because one party stopped arguing for a moment, then apologised to the other. At that time I was convinced that God’s love had done some amazing work in the lives of some of the people working here.

It is not all easy peasy though. In a normal corporation everything was strictly business. The company existed to make profits and line the pockets of its shareholders. In a Christian organisation, the company is accountable to God and man. The line between business and ministry is vague. On one hand, profits are needed to keep the operation afloat. On the other hand, the making of profit isn’t our one and only goal.

I found good companionship in Audrey, my sister-in-law who works for a Christian music education company in Los Angeles and Minli, who just started work for another Christian organisation in Singapore. We all face conflicts between spiritual principles and business practices.

How does one be in the world but of of the world?

Catch 22

I used to carry about a notebook that captured my thoughts as they happened. I stopped somewhere between Arizona and Singapore. I don’t know why I did.

This morning I wanted to write myself a reminder to bring my notebook around. It was such an impotent intention, and the feeling of helplessness made me remember.

Day Two

Day one went very well, thank you to those who asked. It feels odd to actually work regular hours after having done the freelance gig for a while. I’ve always wondered how people were able to sustain 8 or 9 hours of work at a stretch. While I was freelancing, I worked at most 5 hours at a stretch before needing a break.

I discovered that the normal working day consists of meetings, lunch, curry puffs and toilet breaks at regular intervals - things I didn’t have. My five hour stretches consisted of saturated coding. For those five hours nothing else exists. It also explains why I only do it in the middle of the night after Faith has gone to sleep.

I enjoy the change. Helping out with tricksy (ala Gollum) English words from across cubicles and bouncing ideas of people. That being said, the creation of synergy is of utmost importance when working in a group. If there is no synergy, one would be much better working alone.

A New Beginning

First day of work. Going off in a few minutes.

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