Making Light of Things

May 2005 Archives

Store Wars

May the farm be with you!

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For Everything Else, There's Mastercard

Mastercard ad on tarmac, SingaporeYou pay road tax, a certificate that “entitles” you to own a car, suffer the newly extended hours on road tolls via the Electronic Road Pricing scheme and bus and train fares adjust themselves to Argentina’s 2001 hyperinflation every two years or so.

Now they advertise on the tarmac on which you walk.

Remember when someone asked if our economy was indeed so bad that we needed to build a casino in Singapore and the ministers denied it?

All Alone in the Moonlight

This can only come from a photographer turned father.

Faith and I are going to a wedding tomorrow, where I’ve been asked to help take photographs. As it is a full day affair, Faith will, at some point, have to express her breast milk or there’ll be terrible repercussions involving painfully clogged ducts and all.

We also recently purchased a more portable battery-operated pump.

Her: Can I use any of your spare batteries?

Me: You better buy a set of your own batteries. I don’t want to have to choose between their memories and your mammaries.

'Sarcasm' brain areas discovered

Why your mom doesn’t understand you.

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I just spent the last few hours with Anne lying on my tummy. Anne lying on my tummyAll the cushions in the house were employed to help me maintain the physiologically impossible positions I had to contort into so she’d sleep better. So the morning passes, with the first episode of the Transformers, countless episodes of Gilmore Girls, a very hardworking DVD-player and a beautiful girl draping her arms around me.

A little more than a month ago, I wrote about “How to survive day three”. To be honest, during those weeks I had to feign a weak smile everytime someone came up to me and told me about the joys of parenting. I read Kin Mun’s “Reading on a Friday Night” with scepticism, in absolute doubt about whether I would find such parenting nirvana. I wasn’t sure I was cut out for this parenting business; the price of screwing up someone elses’ life scared me.

I remember when Anne was two weeks old. She was in one of her crying fits - the kind that wouldn’t stop accusing you of some apparent mistreatment. It was the dead of night, and the crying wouldn’t stop. I had carried her and paced back and forth for what seemed like an eternity. Then she stopped crying. I put her to bed.

Almost immediately the piercing cries started again. And I spanked her. The sound of my hand hitting her diaper sounded like a gunshot, and she stopped crying for that split second, stunned. The shock of the moment got to me.

I hit a two-week old child. I deserved to be with other low-life scum that shot kittens with steel arrows or those that hunted baby seals. I made up my mind never to ever, ever do that again, but my true colours were made known to me that instant. Hence the doubts of me ever being able to be a good father. Or that the greatest enjoyment I could ever attain from parenthood would be knowing I didn’t screw up.

The best and worst attributes of humankind are both attributed to children. We say a person is childish when every small thing seems to affect them; and at the same time we say a person is childlike when nothing rattles them.

It was barely a few minutes after my violent outburst when Anne looked at me with no recollection whatsoever of the damage I had done to her bottom or the anger I had allowed to act on my behalf. In fact, a few days ago she started smiling. Anne smilingShe smiled and she smiled and she smiled. At me. The father who spanked her when she had neither the means to communicate what was wrong nor the ability to help herself.

So lying there this morning with her arms around and her face pressed tightly against me I realised that maybe there is more than just the dread of middle of the night feeds. Maybe the others were right when they coined the term “the joys of parenting”. It doesn’t seem so improbable to me now that people would actually want to have another kid, having already experienced / endured their first.

Anne reminds me to live in the present. Not to hold grudges. To sleep when I need, to eat when I’m hungry. That childlike innocence is the greatest protection one can have against a rather cruel world.

ps. The tissue paper on the right of my chest is not an attempt to imitate old Peranakan women. Anne puked there.

Phallic Logo Awards

Lock, stock and smoking barrels.

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National Blogging Competition

How stupid can Singapore get? Be ready for a slugfest of Xiaxuesque memes.

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I Suppose It Has to Be OK

Apple’s most beautiful piece of simplicity yet.

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Hypocrisy Most Holy

Burning Quran == bad; Burning Bible != bad

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After watching First Knight it dawns on me that I’ve been fascinated by mythical places like Camelot or the utopian society in Star Trek. These places, fictional as they are, embody the universal good. Not good that is for the here and now, or good that applies only for a select few.

It was only then I realised that I had no idea what Singapore’s ruling class stands for. I’ve watched quite a bit of the going-ons in parliament and the only message I get is that we want to create a place where “if you work hard you’ll get there”.

“There” has always been dictated to us. Now with talk of the creation of a Singaporean elite, I can’t help but feel like I’m living in an RPG. We can’t relax, we can’t take it easy. We’re not “there yet”.

Our children carry school bags the size of giant sacks of rice and most have every single minute of their little lives crammed with extra tuition, music lessons or golf instruction. Many of them are primed for an adulthood their parents want them to have.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels a need to end the oppression and give our children back their childhood. I want to bring up my kids in a place where they can find time to chill without having to feel like they’re falling behind.

With the government’s decision to create a Singaporean elite, as well as the building of casinos in spite of the majority who oppose the idea, I am really not so sure about staying here. There is an emphasis on the moral obligation to contribute back, but the steps the new government has taken demolishes my attempts to reconcile my physical presence on the island and my yearning to leave it.

I want a Singapore where the voice of the people is heard and given real credibility (the casino is going to be five minutes away from where I bring up my first child); a Singapore where we are all considered equals (I don’t have to work hard to get into the elite before my existence matters), and a Singapore where we strive for the greater good. A Singapore that tries.

Windoze Sucks

Now that my Powerbook is officially dead, I have to work on the PC, which till now was only good for playing computer games like World of Warcraft. Using the PC. it feels like I’ve been hit with a -20 creativity, -15 productivity, -100 vibe curse.

Playstation3 Announced

Must. Get. One. Spring. 2006.

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My beloved Powerbook is dead. I suspect it’s a harddisk failure. I was initially pissed that Xaverri (my powerbook) seemed to be slowing down rapidly the moment Tiger was released.

Need to get it fixed soon.

Got Milk?

Faith and I are convinced our baby got swapped with a baby hippopotamus last night. They look and feel the same, but Anne has been feeding every half-hour for the past six hours. That’s a lot of milk.

I know breast milk is easy to digest and all, but at the rate she’s going, I’m half tempted to mix the milk with little pebbles and pieces of tree bark. I’m afraid at the prospect of seeing our refrigerated cache of milk decimated and Faith reduced to a dried raisiny husk in order to satiate this bottomless pit of a baby. I swear she’s developing a fourth chin as we speak.

Facing the Music

We’re planning to bring Anne to church in a few hours. She’s been well-behaved so far tonight, but acting up a little now.

I’ve never been a parent before, but I can tell you there’s a bit of pressure presenting the now one-month-old kiddo to the world. It’s typical Asian fashion for everyone to throw in their two-cents worth of parenting skill.

If I had to use IRC-talk to predict some of the things I’ll be hearing, there’ll probably be a lot of “OMG!!! YOU GUYS HAVE HER ON THE PACIFIER!!!” or in hushed tones, “anne’s gas release is pretty strident. didn’t you use to have gas problems as a kid?”

I guess I’m being overly prepared when I make a mental list of the “you shouldn’t have”s I’m going to have to hear. We’ve crossed many lines we originally didn’t intend you. As an observer the lines seemed pretty solid. At 3am and your eyeballs bloodshot from not having slept for the last 72 hours, it’s “lines, what lines?”.

Anne’s lying on my lap right now (OMG YOU PUT HER IN FRONT OF THE COMPUTER MONITOR!!!) and I’m inclined to do the Chinese parent thing and tell her not to embarass me and pretend to be supercute baby for a few hours. You know what Anne? To heck with it. Be yourself. It’s the best time in your life to. Fart as loud as you want, bawl if you wish. The world will just have to deal with your arrival.

I deal with it every night. And there are moments I see with perfect clarity how great of a blessing you are in my life.

Step by Step Guide to the Redesign

This is the part 1 of the article of Tribolum’s redesign like I promised.

Backend: Movable Type

I believe that function should always take precedent over form. In the case of a blog, content and interactivity should be paramount. I chose Movable Type (MT) for the sole reason it is the CMS I am most comfortable with: I am familiar with most of the available plugins and have seen great examples of sites which use MT. I’ve used MT to run bookstores and run meeting schedules.

Other CMSes that are popular are WordPress, TextPattern and Drupal.


Much as I love MT, JKottke is right when he implied that MT has stagnated. In the immortal words of The Lord of the Rings, “somethings which should not have been forgotten, were”.

So for some of the basic functions you see around here, I had to turn to the Plugin community.

Are there any other plugins that you’ve found useful for your blog?

Next part: Coding.

Tech Help

I need an email form with some semblance of spam protection. Any suggestions?

Oldest Shoe in UK Found

Dang. Thought my 12 year old Nike sandals were going to be a record.

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Big Fish in Small Pond

US captures Bin Laden’s office boy, promotes him to 3rd in command, and pats themselves on the back.

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USB Barbie

Barbie’s head is empty. Her chest holds 512 megabytes of storage.

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Blogging Rights

The recent case of AcidFlask vs A*Star chairman Philip Yeo has brought the dooce right into our front yard. If you’re unfamiliar with AcidFlask vs Philip, refer to the case notes.

There are many issues at hand, but let’s look at the dominant one a little more in depth.

Is it AcidFlask’s right to air his opinion on his blog? Did it amount to libel? Was Philip Yeo’s demand that AcidFlask remove his entire blog excessive?

Now that AcidFlask has taken down his blog, we cannot ascertain for ourselves whether or not what he wrote (falsely) lowered Philip Yeo’s or A-Star’s reputation in our eyes. Based on the discrepancies between the Singapore Ink account and the Channel NewsAsia accounts, A*Star seems to take issue that AcidFlask accused them of bribery, “misuse of money and misbehaviour”. Someone said that those allegations were made by a reader in the comments, and not written by AcidFlask (I’m beginning to feel very 1990s calling this guy by his nick) himself.

From what I gather, Philip Yeo comes across as a person who doesn’t take well to criticism. In Saturday’s profile of him in The New Paper, he was quoted as saying,

‘You can call me names,’ he said. ‘I don’t care. Just don’t criticise my work… I will bomb you flat.

So let me get this straight. You can call him names, but you can’t criticise his work. He openly calls male scholars wimps, openly stating his preference for female scholars.

How is this relevant to the dominant issue? If Philip Yeo is as we read him to be, wouldn’t he be a person to overreact even if AcidFlask’s opinions were well within the realms of fair comment? Would Philip listen if we sat down and calmly listed down the problems inherent in the current scholarship system, or would that be critical of his work? Would it have turned out better if AcidFlask were female?

The blog is a two-edged sword. It is as personal as you want it to be and yet as loud a megaphone as any form of communication medium can ever possibly be. But remember this nugget of wisdom from the THX folks: The audience is listening.

I think it is preposterous for someone to blog about something and then later claim an entitlement to personal ranting as a defense. You’ve put it on the friggin’ internet. There is no larger audience accessible to the common man, especially given the fact that Singapore’s speaker’s corner is located in some obscure pedestrian-deficient part of Singapore.

That being said, if we are to progress as a society we cannot continue the “no one can criticise my work” / silence all opposing viewpoints mentality our government used to have. The powers-that-be need to adopt the new government directive: listen to the people, put on a smile, build the casino anyway.

30 Days Later

Exactly 30 days ago, Faith’s water broke and we came home with Anne. After numerous feeds and diaper change, we’re proud to present…

Anne, one day old

Anne, one month old

The CMS Matrix

Compares all of the major CMS options in the market. Excellent.

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Most unfortunate logo ever

Supposedly something oriental, but somehow manages to combine the extremes of both east and west.

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More re:design

Things are shaping up pretty nicely. I’ve tested the design on a few browsers. Seems to look fine on Camino, Safari, Firefox and IE6 Windows and IE5.2 Mac.

I’ve also respecified a 780px width, so it should cater to the 800 x 600 crowd. I’ll document this haphazard redesign a little more elaborately.

Must sleep now.

The Night Shift

I’m in charge of the night shift. That means that for the past month I’ve been sleeping at 8 in the morning, waking up for breakfast at lunch, and so on. I’ve always been a night person, and a morning person. Basically I’ve always prided myself in needing very little sleep to survive.

But staying awake because you’re doing stuff you want to do and being kept awake are two very different things. Taking care of Anne at night means that sometimes I get to do a little work, or put together a butt-ugly redesign while she’s asleep. And sometimes the whole night is spent trying to get her to that point. Either way, my job is to make sure Faith gets her rest. Rest = breast milk. Breast milk = satisfied baby. And satisfied baby = quality of life.

So here I sit in my underwear. My external clothes were casualties in a poop explosion a few moments ago.

Anne’s a smallish kid. But she really knows how to let one rip. Sometimes it sounds like a tractor driving through our living room, and other times it sounds like a geiger counter moseying towards Chernobyl. There was this one time during a routine diaper change, she squirted poop two and a half body lengths away. It almost made it out the door of our bedroom.

Tonight I was bottle-feeding her, her bottom placed firmly on my lap. She lets one rip.

You have to understand that with babies there’s no such thing as a dry fart. They’re all wet. It also means that there’s no way of telling whether it’s a fart or poop till it’s too late.

It’s a long one. Followed by another. And another. Man, this girl was on a roll. Two-and-a-half body lengths of atmospheric pressure pressed against my lap, fired again and again. Something had to give. The seam of her diaper blew and poop flew all over the place. All over my lap, my t-shirt. Mustard. Warm mustard.

Ok, so it wasn’t a fart.

It’s odd how babies teach you that time is relative. The five minutes it takes to warm up their milk while they’re screaming their lungs out is the longest five minutes in the world. Longer than the last five-minutes of a marathon.

It was a long test of patience till the bubble burst. Now Anne’s sleeping and oddly enough I hear myself think: oh it wasn’t that bad.

Juggling a Gadzillion Balls

MovableType decides to flip out on me, choosing not process seemingly random MT-tags while working others just fine. There probably is method to the madness, but I have a one-month-old waiting to be fed.

I initially had a redesign put up for a few hours yesterday, but decided against it. I had wanted to use the typographical style of a new Bible Faith’s friend bought her for the blog, complete with leather-cover and gold-leafed page-edges.

Somehow it felt sacriligeous. Or not. I couldn’t make up my mind. It’s a feat indeed when someone’s idea of book design has become synonymous with the Bible.


Rudimentary implementation of last-minute inspiration. Lots more to come.

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