Making Light of Things

May 2007 Archives

Advocating Torture

The funny thing about animal crackers.

Anne looks at me. She had been holding on to the animal cracker in the shape of a camel for the last half-hour. Then she breaks the silence.

“Eat leg?”

“Ok”, I say.

She munches off the camel’s front legs.

“Eat face?”


It’s been 10 years since I met Matthew. We were in the same unit in the army. I can’t say I knew him well. So it was with a casual “how’re things” that I greeted him. He was the groom’s best man, and I was the photographer.

“Wow, you look very different,” was his reply. “You used to be handsome.”

I’ve never been one for good looks, either caring about them or even the knowledge that I possessed them. Even within myself I instinctively deny that I ever looked “handsome”. But what I do know is that I look quite different today than I did only a few years ago.

For every ten people who suffer from hyper-thyroidism, nine are female. A few years ago I had the privilege of being number ten. It wasn’t terrible, but hyperthyroidism left me with eyeballs that protruded out of my head. It’s taken a year and half of rather intense medication to get it under control.

I don’t look the same anymore. It doesn’t matter to me. Not most of the time, anyway.


If I were better at math, I’d sit down and calculate how much time I’ve wasted on Microsoft products.

Defragmenting hard-drives, downloading virus signatures, replacing obscure .dll files. I used to take pride in the fact I knew how to solve computer problems back in the day. I’d be the guy people call whenever they faced a printer that wouldn’t cooperate or a drive that wouldn’t start up. Though I still receive those phone calls and emails, I am no longer that guy.

I gave away my last PC to a little mainland Chinese girl who came to Singapore to study a few months ago. The only piece of hardware I own that has Microsoft on it is my XBox 360, and it has given me grief just like the old days. Only this time I do not have a keyboard or any diagnostic tools to troubleshoot it.

If you have a faulty 360, you call a hotline. They attempt to “troubleshoot” it over the phone, basically checking if you have the XBox plugged in. When that fails they schedule an appointment 3 weeks from the day for a one-to-one exchange.

I’ve been there, waited and done that. I brought home the replacement set. I even bought 2 new games. I had a little spare time in between the onslaught of deadlines at work. I ended up spending that spare time trying to fix the faulty replacement Microsoft has given me.

I called the hotline again. It’ll be another 3 week wait, while the warranty continues to elapse from the date of the original purchase. I can’t believe it - the most reliable gaming system in my home is a Mac. I can’t even trust Microsoft to make a console - how on earth do we allow them to power software that drives most enterprises around the world?

I ask the guy manning the hotline if he could bump me up, considering they had given me a faulty set. He laughs a little and apologies, then asks me if there’s anything else he could help me with. I ask him if a refund is possible. He repeats his previous response. I then realise that I was talking to a human representation of Microsoft products - they mean to help, but end up wasting your time.

Anne Updates

Unsolicited AnswerI was shooting photos for Aaron and Belinda on Saturday. When Uncle Ming Seong asked Aaron, “Will you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?”, a voice shouted from the back of the hall.


My daughter decided to join in the festivities.

Someone in the crowd commented that she had answered correctly. She had no intention of taking Belinda as her wife.

By the way, the longest word we’ve ever heard Anne say is “parallelogram”. She occasionally makes an irregular shape with her fingers and says “trapezium!”, thanks to Aunty Louelle who thought normal shapes were beneath her niece.


There’s the imaginary brick wall, when the immense weight of the task before you materialises out of thin air and bears down upon you. The taste of fear - that this time round you’ve possibly bitten off more than you can chew.

Then you take a quick, short, shallow breath and battle on. Time is short and you cannot afford the luxury of doubt.

But what if the imaginary brick wall isn’t, you know, imaginary?


Worked over the weekend. Worked yesterday while on leave. Today’s a public holiday, but there’s work to do as well.

Sarpino’s pizzas were great, but I think they were a little too rich for my battered constitution to handle. Sore throat and cold on the way. I’ve been pumping vitamin C the past few weeks to keep the flu at bay.

Hope it works this time. Or is my body telling me to just shut down for a while?

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