Tuesday, 30 December 2003

Magic Masala

a great merry christmas to all!! (a few days late) perhaps?? how's your plan for the new year countdown?? :)

we'll be heading on to the pretty lake city of udaipur tonight (our final "new" destination before we start on our return leg) and enid (travelmate) and i are definitely going to have beer (indian national beer kingfisher??), my favourite indian dessert gulab jamun (brown sweet glutinous ball soaked in sugar... yummy.. :)), ice cream (if we can find any), maybe tandoori chicken (luxury dish), my fav palak paneer for dinner, hopefully at a nice restaurant overlooking the lake to celebrate the near completion of our great Indian adventure!

stuff we managed to do since the last time i blogged:

- visited the sacred rat temple (managed to get enid to go in though she practically freaked out at the entrance... she even started counting the number of rats to see if there were too many and panicked when she lost count.. strange girl..)

- camel safari to the desert (we saw three camels in the distance.. suspected there were either terrorists or the three wise men.. sat with an excitable Indian family and watched the stars while enjoying beer and curry and gulab jamuns.)

- saw sand dunes ala Sahara desert.. nice.. :)... took back 1 litre of sand.. durrh... hahaha..

- visited two very beautiful cities (Jaisalmer and Jodhpur) with their cobbled streets, quaint shops, and pesky children.

- shopped shopped shopped

that's all for now..

Monday, 22 December 2003

Desert Land Story

It turns out that Indians in India are every bit as kiasu as Singaporeans.. or maybe even more so..

we took this full-day tour of the pink city of Jaipur today, which covered all of these ten touristy attractions (something which i usually hate to do...) somehow, package travel to me feels a lot like i'm being herded around like cattle.. grr.. give me independent travel anytime!.. . anyway, have to admit it saved us a mighty lot of time and gave us a certain amount of immunity against touts, cheats and indian ah bengs for a day.. haha... anyway, managed to see the amazing Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) in the old city of Jaipur - it's this flat pink building with more than 900 windows! pretty cool..

anyway, we realised that the day tour was filled 90% by these rich Indians from other parts of India, with their suits, expensive looking punjabi dresses, dangling jewellery, well-clad children and all.. however, their behaviour was pretty obnoxious.. we spent pretty much the whole day being pushed and shoved around by them in every place we went to. Indians appear to have no sense of personal space. In a positive way, it means that they are not shy in approaching us to talk. They were usually chatty and friendly and extremely curious. But negatively speaking, even now, there's this guy standing behind me.. grr... it seems that there's constantly someone looking over our shoulders.. this is probably how they can survive in a country with a billion people.. gulp...

after this big city, we'll head to a smaller city tomorrow, Jhunjhunu, to look at wall drawings from long ago and hopefully spend Christmas in the desert in the town of Bikaner afterwards.. maybe we may even see the 3 wise men??? hahaha.. the town of Bikaner has a temple of sacred rats which i'm still trying to persuade my travelmate to go with me to... Seems like they'll even run over our feet when we are inside.. heh heh.. so fun!! :p what a story to tell the grandchildren..

ok, enough updates for now.. till i find another cybercafe in the land of masala! take care and keep healthy!!

oh ya, btw, this is.. err.. Day 27 of my 45 day Great India Adventure.. be back on the 9th Jan (yep, a day after my birthday.. :p), just in case my friends need to know that.. tata!

Saturday, 20 December 2003

India Odyssey

i'm convinced India is only for the very brave... or the very insane..

for one, Delhi is one incredibly crowded place.. there's people EVERYWHERE!! and cattle, auto-rickshaws, cycle rickshaws, fruit sellers, masala tea stalls and people trying to sell us saris and shawls.. the constant cacophony rings in our minds even when we go to bed at night... the number of touts who are trying to rip us off in a million and one truly imaginative ways makes it really hard for any traveller trying to travel independently to believe in anyone here at all..

but anyway, we've seen Taj Mahal! Yippee! And i tell you, it has to be seen to be believed - solid marble .. it's really beautiful.. besides, it's an oasis in the desert of touts, postcard salesmen and argggh!! never mind.. got to shut them off ... we've started telling anyone hassling us that we are from Sundaland (so we can stop them saying we are from Japan) and a few of them actually reply "oh Sundaland! Yes, we have many tourists from Sundaland!" ???? these people are unbelievable!!

after surviving Delhi and Agra with our souls and minds intact, my travel mate and I are finally venturing into Rajasthan, the land of colour, architecture and deserts. Today, we visited the UN Heritage Wildlife Reserve Keoladeo Ghana National Park near this dusty town called Bharatpur and saw the most amazing population of storks, egrets, kingfishers and numerous other bird species. A day away from people.. what a relief..

check out the fiesty entries on my travel mate's blog - i'm not missing Singapore as much as she is though.. heh heh.. may spend New Year's Eve in the Thar Desert... see first..

okee, will update again when i can.. take care all!!

Saturday, 13 December 2003

Hello from Sikkim



i've seen the world's third highest peak Kangchendzonga after trekking 5 days through some of the lushest temperate rainforests i've ever seen.

i've been through temperatures ranging from 10 degrees to -10 degrees celsius, camping out in tents surrounded by dogs, yaks and horses.

the snowy Himalayas from Sikkim are stunning. the children of Sikkim look Tibetan and are extremely adorable and trusting. the village is peaceful and we've so far attended one funeral and one wedding. from the scenary here, i'm beginning to believe that this could indeed be the Shangri-la that the world has long been searching for. Photos will never do this place justice...

we're done with our project helping the folks at the Conservation Committee with compiling information and taking photographs and will begin to help them to build their website in a while to come to show the world what this place offers..

my knees and thighs are still aching from all the climbing.

i'm overdosing on puri, masala tea and dhal.

wish to say more but the internet connection is way too slow...

all else, i'm fine and will begin the second leg of my trip through Rajasthan in 2 days time. can't wait! :)

missing all and will write again soon as i can. love you all!

Tuesday, 25 November 2003

Learning to see

Lastingly successful art triggers audience responses that are ready to happen in the culture as a whole. Regardless of how perfectly a photographer's work renders a subject, it is bound to fail unless it strikes that chord that elicits a common emotional and visual response.

It is this very assumption - that seeing is a singular truth - that gets us into trouble. We learn lots of ways to adjust our cameras without giving much attention to how to adjust the way we see.


by Galen Rowell

The success story of adventurer - photographer Galen Rowell and his wife Barbara is doubtlessly one of the most inspiring stories I have ever heard.. Their unexpected deaths two years ago counts surely as a tremendous loss to the world of photography and adventure travel. The perfect marriage of travel and photography they have achieved in their lifetime proves that some dreams are indeed worth pursuing.. even if the risks are real and constant... i'm now more certain than ever that a life worth something at the end of it is not determined by how long we live, but by how we have lived...

Here's the National Geographic report on their death, as well as an eulogy from a fellow photographer..

what a great perspective to ponder upon, both on photography and life, just before my trip to the beautiful country of India! :)

Sunday, 23 November 2003

"i had to eat it all up before i could take pictures"

next month's issue of Grain will feature another one of my photographic efforts, this time with a cheezels pinhole camera, which i worked on today since it was bright and sunny (for a change)...

prelude to next month's issue of Grain

this is a view of the very cluttered storeroom in my house, converted into a temporary darkroom to load my camera and to develop and dry my negatives.. see the various trays on the lower shelf for the developer, the fixer and the water..

cluttered storeroom - darkroom

and here are some of my humble results from just now, hung up to dry.. me, me and more of me..

negatives up close

using my home storeroom as a darkroom was an extremely precarious endeavour... halfway through loading my pinhole cam, my dad suddenly opened the door because the karang guni man came by and he wanted to sell away part of the stack of newspapers stored there. gulp! almost exposed my whole box of paper film! And the noxious fumes from the photochemicals had nowhere to go and almost suffocated me.... headache ah... And lastly, going up and down my block of flats with a stopwatch, a cheezels container, a polartec fleece jacket to provide extra protection to the camera and a Random House English Dictionary to stabilise the flimsy contraption got me more than my fair share of curious stares from my kaypoh neighbours..

check out next month's issue of Grain for more details of my pinhole adventure...

Saturday, 22 November 2003

trip preparations

Preparing for the trip over these past two days has been fun but really exhausting...

We started from 9am yesterday with an hour-long Basic Hindi lesson to equip the group to interact better with the locals once we arrive (actually, Nepalese is probably more relevant but of course no one in the group knows that, so we settled for Hindi instead). As a somewhat regular traveler, I’ve always found the following to be the most essential phrases/words to master before every trip (the one next to it is the Hindi equivalent)

Hello – namaste
Thank you – thanwaad
How much? – kitna hua?
Too Expensive! – bahut mehengaa hai
Cheaper please! – kaam karo!
Where is …? – kahan hai? (I think this is for places)
Where? – kab? (I think this is for things)
What? – kya?
Yes – haa
No - nahii
Food – khaana
The bill please – paaise kitne hue/bil dena (informal)
I – mein
You – aap
What is your name? – tumhara naam kya hai?
May I take a photograph? – kya mein ek photo le sakta hoon?
I don’t understand – mujhe samjh mein nahin aaaya
Please stop – kripa ruko
Please hurry – kripa jaldi karo
How far is? – kitne door hai?
Does this bus go to..? – kya yeh bus jaati hai…?

That was followed by an informative talk by a somewhat well known professional photojournalist John Gerard Cosgrove who shared on the tips and tricks to taking great photographs..

John Cosgrove

“To snap great shots, says JOHN COSGROVE, stop and take a moment to observe - and change the camera modes to suit the situation.”

He spoke about shooting images that “tell an experience” and looking at what’s happening in as many ways as possible. He also suggested taking more pictures, changing the white balance in the camera, changing to a vertical shooting mode occasionally, and looking through the camera to view the world (as a means of searching for something to focus on in an image).

Great tips indeed! As my little contribution to the world of photography, I’ve also personally put up, only very recently, my own version of a Basic Photography Course (Photography 101) on the web – take a look! It’s free! :)

This was followed by a short crash course on First Aid, the dangers of trekking at high altitude (Acute Mountain Sickness & Hypothermia) and necessary health precautions we have to take. Due to the lack of meat in Sikkim, it seems like we are looking at a 3-week diet made up of mainly potatoes, rice, eggs and whatever local veges they have.. gulp.. not that I am too much of a meat-eater myself, but umm.. this COULD be a challenge.. :p someone is even thinking of bringing up 2kg of bak kwa (bbq meat). Maybe I should bring up some strips of beef jerky just in case..

Rushed out after that to catch up with a friend I haven’t seen for more than a year since she gave birth to a cute little boy. she complaint aloud that life had come to a standstill since she got married and gave birth. She and her hubby have stopped going out and even their conversations revolve around little more than daily worries and issues nowadays rather than about each other. Marriage sounds rather dreadful. But I shan’t comment further..

At 6, i grabbed a shuttle bus to travel back to NIE for the opening of a solo art exhibition by (definitely up-and-coming) artist Namiko Chan. On exhibition were 50 portraits in oil of people she knows personally, including a couple of nudes, two self-portraits, some done in realistic style and others impressionistic. The varierty of styles was impressive - take a look here at some of her works. An exhibition exclusively on portraits (let alone an artist who concentrates on portraits) is rare indeed.. i know NTU's a little far away (who goes to Boon Lay anyway??) but i think the trip's worth it, anway....

Ended the evening going to a charity bash at Chinablack to raise funds for our four Youth Expedition Projects to Sikkim and Vietnam. Haven't clubbed for the longest time and was surprised that some popular 80s stuff from "my time" are still popular today (I find that somewhat eeky, for some reason) as well as the crappiness of some of the new popular songs (i.e. the ones that make the audience scream in senseless hysteria when they come on).. umm.. i'm getting old..

oh dear, i've only described yesterday.. i'll describe today tomorrow.. zzzz.. need sleep..

Friday, 21 November 2003

more shopping

bought another nifty travel thing to compact my warm clothings so they don't take up too much space in my haversack.. $15+

the amazing Pack-Mate

Pack-Mate Packing System

- Saves Space
- Reusable
- Waterproof - Odourproof

i think it's so cool.... :)

Thursday, 20 November 2003

visitor poll

i added a visitor poll there on my right column ----->

:)

tell me where you're from, ok?? :)
thrills spills chills

reverse bungee jumping comes to singapore...

i was asked by a friend last night if i will try it out.. it's a bit steep (price-wise) but looks like fun so i'm game for it as long as i can find some company.. haha.. anyone game for this? maybe next year.. dunno...

i tried something similar known as the SkyCoaster while i was work/travelling in the US some 7 years back .. the skycoaster is "bungee, skydiving, and hang-gliding all in one ... a 150 foot high hanggliding-skydiving simulator that reaches speeds up to 70 mph before catching you less than 6 feet from the ground .... uses ultra-strong steel cables and professional hanggliding harnesses. You pull your own ripcord whenever you are ready!"... it looks a bit like this... the scary part is you have to pull the ripcord to let yourself fall.. one could technically be stuck up there for hours!

SkyCoaster

the feeling of free-falling is pretty scary.. (i do have a slight fear of heights).. had my experience captured on video tape but i think it doesn't play anymore..so sad.. nonetheless, i think it isn't as scary as being stuck on some rubber band and being tossed around.. eeks.. will see.. sounds a bit frivolous though...
packing them like sardines

my untidy little pile on the floor has grown into an unacceptable, monstrously huge and plainly ugly heap.. my mom's sure to yell at me in a while.. but what to do what to do.. so many things to pack for the trip and it's next Wed! laying them out now, i wonder if they will all fit into my backpack...

went out and bought this today... excellent for nite time reading, for writing my journal, and emergency trips to the toilet..

Petzl Lamps - TIKKA / ZIPKA - TIKKA PLUS

and this (cos my hands get real cold)..

Outdoor Designs Fuji Gloves

and a super cheap but excellent quality (fake?? umm.. looks real leh..) this from the funky flea market along Rochor Rd

30x25 dcf Tasco Binoculars

as well as a heat pack (only one, for a "Life and Death" emergency.. touchwood! :O) and a foam mat for $3.50 from the army market on Beach Rd (this place is amazing..)..

i have no money left after this, apart from what i have set aside to pay for my 20 rolls of Provia 100 slide film... so i've resorted to begging, borrowing and err.. ya, begging and borrowing (haha.. no, i am not stealing. nope! *see my halo*haha) the rest of the stuff.. so far, through the charity of others, i have secured the following:

a 65l backpack, Leki walking stick (heh heh, my monopod too!), a set of trekking long johns (super important!! wicks the sweat away too!), some more warm fleece tops, fleece pants, a windbreaker (with some strange corporate logo on it), some rolls of Sensia slide film, a journal (nice present!!), glove liners, woollen socks, woollen head gear.....

and i still have my barang barang from the previous trips.. phew.. sleeping bag (not sure if it is warm enough), toiletry bag, camera bag (umm.. too many bags??), money belt, locks and chain, compass, trekking boots, sandals etc..... saves me a bundle buying new stuff.. just need to get extra toiletries, some stationery and maybe spare batteries and i should be ok... :) .. now i'm really getting into the mood for the trip.. heh heh... i love getting ready for trips.. do give me some suggestions if you think i may have left something important out..

hey, look at these "Made-in-China"- looking sleeping bags!! hahaha.. they really look like the patchwork quilts your grandma made for you when you were a kid! hahaha.. pretty cool actually..

wah... so late already.. better go and sleep...

Wednesday, 19 November 2003

josh groban

CLOSER

bought it. now playing on comp.

wow... it's REALLY good... haha.. what did i expect? :)
13 Month Bonus ?

> Why is there a 13 month bonus when its really isn't a bonus? The mystery
> is finally revealed!
> When the British were in Singapore, they were being paid weekly & they
> argued that Singaporeans were actually being cheated into believing that
> the 13th month pay is a bonus.
> Singaporeans are being paid monthly which is equivalent to 4 weeks pay coz
> there are 4 weeks in a month.
> As the British were paid weekly, it worked out to the same.
> You see, there are 7 days in a week. 4 weeks in a month. 12 months in a
> year. Then 12 months should work out to 48 weeks only. But 1 year worked
> out to 52 weeks!!! Hence the 13th month is your own pay (not bonus??!!).
> So, the British argued that there is in fact no bonus at all??? It is a
> very simple calculation that stunned many!!!!
> BON! US ??? What bonus??? ... ;o!!!

(via email)

Tuesday, 18 November 2003

Durio zibethinus

durians

this just came home. yummy...

i'm still amazed at how ugly durian seeds actually look up close, especially now that we see them more often than not packed in ugly styrofoam boxes rather than still in their neat little rows in thorny green shells.

quoting from a book written by a friend:

"Thai International Airlines made a research among their passengers to find out how different nationalities describe and view the taste. The French, the Italians and the Spaniards love it, some even saying that it tastes like cream and brandy. Others describe it as an exotic sweet cheese with liquor. However, many tourists were revolted by the smell. Nonetheless, all who have eaten it agree on the aphrodisiac effect...."

umm... could this be the basis behind the Indonesian saying that goes:

"When the durian comes down, the sarongs come up." ?

hahhahaha..

and from this site: Comment on Durian: Host for mealybugs.

.. durrh... oh well, nothing beats a good night out with friends just eating durians and sipping coconut juice.. yummy...

Monday, 17 November 2003

"Heartlands" PHOTO EXHIBITION

i swung by to Yew Tee CC yesterday evening to see this interesting Heartlands Black and White Photo Exhibition by five local photographers. The styles and areas of focus were varied and some of the works were really quite impressive. You can see samples of their works here.

was already quiet by the time i went down last night and i could take my time to look at the exhibits slowly without jostling with the crowd.. but i just realised they have two interesting talks this coming Saturday on Travel Photography (by Lee Gim Lay - on Tibet - 1.30 - 2.30pm) and Traditional Black and White Developing and Printing (by Desmond Kwan - 3 -5pm) - see details here

looks like i may go down again after all.. wah.. so far... :( ... who lives in Yew Tee anyway??

Details
Venue: Yew Tee Community Club, 4th storey
Period of exhibition: 15 November - 23 November 2003
Time: Weekdays 11 am to 9.30 pm, Weekends 10 am to 9.30 pm
Admission: Free!

Sunday, 16 November 2003

Great Singapore Duck Race 2003

i searched long and hard amongst the sea of duckie faces...

competition was stiff

at last i saw my little warrior! all by himself, trudging along.. umm.. he looks a little tired..

OrenDuckieX

more pics from the Race Day...
Life, work and its myriad responsibilities



The public forum I attended yesterday – “The Chek Jawa story, its lessons and applications story” was indeed humbling. On the panel were the following folks:

Dr Chua Ee Kiam, is a photographer and author of many natural history books on Singapore including Chek Jawa - Discovering Singapore's Biodiversity. He has spoken tirelessly to individuals, groups and grassroots organisations about connecting to Chek Jawa as a Singaporean and subsequently as a Chek Jawa guide and an instructor in guide training workshops. http://www.simplygreen.com.sg - you can find his coffee-table photography books in Kinokuniya and Borders.

Mr Joseph Lai brought Chek Jawa to the attention of many for the first time. He galvanised volunteers and found expert help to execute a study of biodiversity at Chek Jawa, submitting a well-researched document as feedback to the government. He is now committed on a solo bike trip around Singapore until 2012 - the year until when Chek Jawa is reprieved from reclamation. http://www.eart-h.com/ - very philosophical guy.

Mr N. Sivasothi (Research Officer, NUS Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research) conducted a series of research collection trips and submitted the results to government. He then coordinated a series of public education field trips to Chek Jawa, which resulted in a public feedback document to the government. The Museum relied heavily on volunteer help and the internet. http://habitatnews.nus.edu.sg/ - calls himself the "scruffy guy" and "murderer".

Dr Geh Min (President of Nature Society (Singapore) worked behind the scenes by dropping a word in every ear she came across, often senior figures that she had access to. As Singapore’s oldest NGO, NSS has adopted a more consultative approach where it constantly seeks to represent and balance the diversity of independent attitudes in its advocacy of nature conservation. http://www.nss.org.sg/ - she impressed me with her ability to see both sides of the "conservation story".


They spoke fast, hard and with great commitment, yet belittled their personal individual contributions to the tremendous work they had done. From them, we gained insight into the challenges that face nature conservationists in Singapore, particularly from a government which consists of a mix of hard-headed pragmatists but also “closet environmentalists”. One message that stood out tremendously for me was Joseph Lai’s almost Zen-like philosophy about the importance of the ‘Individual’ in the saving of nature. To him, saving nature was not merely a “responsibility”, but also an “expression” of our deep regard for ‘Nature’ as an abstract notion.

Another great thing was, I also got to meet Ria Tan (http://www.wildsingapore.com), whose amazing close-up photographs of sea stars and soft corals first inspired me to go down to Chek Jawa to take a look myself. This photographer was nuts enough to troop down to these muddy swampy areas at 2 to 3 am many nights all by herself to photograph what she felt was the last of Singapore’s wildlife, to share with others so that “when these places disappear, there will be others to cry with her”. See her other journal on Sungei Buloh here. she's an incredibly inspiring individual.

When we are able to transcend our mundane daily existence and view our life and work with “new eyes”, to see how we fit into the whole “scheme of things” beyond just working for our next pay check, that’s when we will truly find our purpose and meaning in life and develop the morality to live life in the right way. Some thoughts after chatting with a friend online last night and after listening to BBC just now on the responsibility of the media to highlight social concerns and issues.

The events of this weekend are proving to be tremendously rewarding.

Friday, 14 November 2003

Grain

Grain - the inaugural issue

the inaugural issue - now out in the stores.

Thursday, 13 November 2003

busy weekend ahead

this weekend is beginning to look like it could be potentially (gulp!) stressful... (taboo word!)

amongst the various social, personal and work obligations on my calender includes:

1. Going down to the Singapore River on Sunday @ 3.30pm to cheer OrenDuckieX (my newly-named brave little duckie) on in the Annual Singapore Duck Race. I've promised DuckieX my moral support .. hope he (yes, it's a male) helps me to win my Hyundai 1.3 .. heh heh... remember ID: 093551.. go Duckie go!

OrenDuckieX

2. Swing by for the launch of the "Heartlands" PHOTO EXHIBITION at Yew Tee Community Club, 4th storey at 4 pm on Sat (Period of exhibition: 15 November - 23 November 2003 Time: Weekdays 11 am to 9.30 pm, Weekends 10 am to 9.30 pm) where a fren is going to speak. This exhibition is about Singapore, photographed using different techniques by five local photographers.. Should be really cool to meet fellow local photographers and hopefully to pick up a couple of photo tips! :)

3. Going down to the Singapore International Foundation office at Park Mall on Sat afternoon (oh no, clashes with previous event!) to attend a forum on Chek Jawa as part of our Youth Expedition Project preparation.. can imagine how amazing it will be to meet the folks who fought for the preservation of Chek Jawa.. Those who dared to believe their actions would make a difference (unlike 99% of Singaporeans I know who would have said "Aiyah, once the Govt has decided on something, there is NOTHING you can do about it..").. To me, these folks possess the spirit which would make Singapore a great place to be in..

4. Makan Fest on Sat night to learn Hindi (beyond “Namaste!” i.e. hello) and to bond with the whole team going to Sikkim. Actually feeling rather excited as trip looms ahead.. wow, less than two weeks to go.. Confirmed date of departure: 26 Nov. currently feeling: totally unprepared! *turns to look at camera gear and backpacking stuff sitting in untidy little piles on the floor and shakes head*

5. Photography workshop with veteran local photographer Mr John Arifin on Sunday?? Not confirmed yet but heard the courses he has conducted so far are really good!! See first lah.. trouble confirming this one..

i think something's bound to have to give way.. grr.. and i was still hoping to go down to the Natas Travel Fair @ Suntec.. haha.. too much stuff too little time..

Other Updates

Grain Magazine (Singapore's newest and coolest asia photo magazine) is online and will (i think) be out in the newsstands and bookstores from next week!

Watch out for my contribution on Patagonia in the first issue!! :)

go support!! it's a great magazine and definitely great value at only S$6!!

Wednesday, 12 November 2003

the amazing bumblebee

wow, this is a pretty amazing bit of trivia (via WT):

The mass of a bumblebee's body exceeds the lift which can be created by their wing surface. There is no explanation for the physics of how they fly. The bumblebee flies anyway. Perhaps the bumblebee has no language for the word "NO"

doesn't this tell us a lot about self-belief?? wow!

btw, i just found out Josh Groban has a new album > Closer < that is even more amazing than his first (which was already very good) and you can actually listen to it on his website!!
Fulfilling Our Destiny

"Everyone, when they are young, knows what their destiny is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their destiny."

" To realize one's destiny is a person's only real obligation. All things are one. And, when u want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."


from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
fake lunar eclipse

fake lunar eclipse

my sister told me that i shouldn't try to pass this off an a lunar eclipse. reason being, it looks clearly more like a "half-moon".. in a real lunar eclipse (like the one that just passed us by on Nov 9 - see amazing time lapse pics here) - the darkened part is "the other way round" - concave? convex?)

oh well, hahaa..
personal mastery

Parents can be such a pain at times.. sat down with my parents for lunch just now (a once-in-a-blue-moon phenomena - since we hardly have meals together) and my mum and I started having this ridiculous (almost usual) squabble over something that was so trivial that i cannot recall even a bit of it now...

normally, i would have just stood up and gone off to sulk in a corner for a while to cool things down (i've long given up face-to-face confrontations knowing how clearly fruitless, and potentially explosive and senseless they can become). Either that or i would have just remained there and tried my best to block out what she was saying with loud humming noises in my head (..it works, believe me - this is one of my secret weapons against insults..). However, the words of Scroll II of Og Mandino's The Greatest Secret In The World was still in my head, having just read it randomly this morning... it said:

"I will greet this day with love in my heart.

I will love the sun for it warms my bones; yet I will love the rain for it cleanses my spirit. I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars. I will welcome happiness for it enlarges my heart; yet I will endure sadness for it opens my soul. I will acknowledge rewards for they are my due; yet I will welcome obstacles for they are my challenge."
(see whole passage here)

Although i was still feeling rather sore (believe me, i was feeling really really annoyed) , i started to consider if there was any way i could possibly make the situation better, much as i didn't think it was my fault at all.. and i suddenly thought how surprised my mother would be if i started showing her that i cared instead (even if i didn't feel like that at the moment) and helped her to do some housework and to wash the dishes in the sink.. and besides, i could get out of the tense situation and we would be out of each other's faces too, at least for a while....

and it worked!

She came into the kitchen, surprised by the washed dishes, and her voice immediately softened. She said, "oh, why don't you just go out and have lunch first. I can do the dishes later. I don't need you to do them".. and the tense situation immediately dispersed..

rather trivial incident but it felt good.. it felt like some kind of personal mastery for me.. .. oh well.. :)

Tuesday, 11 November 2003

bbq

for personal record: my first bbq in eons.. details here..

pics here -> bbq @ east coast pit 33 - 10 Nov 2003

i'm NOT in the pics.. no need to search...hahaha..
Life Lesson: The Wristwatch Concept of Life

When a doctor tells people that they have a terminal illness, their feelings about time become intense. Suddenly they fear there’s not enough of it. Here’s another of life’s contradictions: moving from abstract to real, you see your time as limited for the first time. But does any doctor really know when someone has six month? No matter what we know about the average length of survival, you cannot know when you will die. You have to grapple with the reality of not knowing. Sometimes the lesson becomes clear. Standing at the edge of life, you want to know how much time you have left, but you realize that you have never known. In looking at the lives and deaths of others we often say that people died before their time. We feel their lives were incomplete, but there are only two requirements for a complete life: birth and death. In fact, we rarely pronounce a life complete unless the person lived to be ninety-five years old and had a great life. Otherwise, we proclaim the death premature.

Beethoven was “only” fifty-seven when he died, yet his accomplishments were tremendous. Joan of Arc was not even twenty when her life was taken, yet she is remembered and venerated today. John F. Kennedy Jr. died with his wife and sister-in-law at age thirty-eight. He never held an elected office, yet he was more loved than many of the US presidents. Were any of these lives incomplete? This question takes us back to the wristwatch concept of life, by which everything is measured and judged artificially. But we don’t know what lessons others are supposed to learn, we don’t know who they were supposed to be or how much they were supposed to have. As hard as it may be to accept, the reality is that we don’t die before our time. When we die, it is our time.

Our challenge is to fully experience this moment – and it’s a great challenge. To know that this instance contains all the possibilities for happiness and love and not lose these possibilities in expectation of what the future should look like.


by David Kessler from: Life Lessons

from Tuesdays with Morrie comes a similar message: "Fear of aging reflects unsatisfied and unfulfilled lives, lives that haven't found meaning"

the War Memorial - Part II

Monday, 10 November 2003

My Wages

I bargained with Life for a penny
And life would pay no more
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store

For life is a just employer
He gives you what you ask
But once you have set the wages
Why, you must bear the task

I worked for a menial's hire
Only to learn dismayed
That any wage I had asked of life
Life would have willing paid.

-- Jessie B. Rittenhouse

Life Lesson: it's about what you put in and what you get out..

the War Memorial - Part I

Sunday, 9 November 2003

Past Life Analysis

"Your past life diagnosis:

I don't know how you feel about it, but you were male in your last earthly incarnation. You were born somewhere in the territory of modern Ireland around the year 1800. Your profession was that of a seaman, dealer, businessman or broker.

Your brief psychological profile in your past life: Bohemian personality, mysterious, highly gifted, capable to understand ancient books. With a magician's abilities, you could have been a servant of dark forces.

The lesson that your last past life brought to your present incarnation: Your task is to learn, to love and to trust the universe. You are bound to think, study, reflect, and to develop inner wisdom.

Do you remember now?
"

(via BadPuppie)

i was a MAN in my past life??
kick-ass babe

was just reading a biography of Lucy Liu on the web and it says:

"Her success was partly due to her fluency in Mandarin, and also because of her practice of Kali-Eskrima-Silat, an Indonesian martial art with crude forms of knife and sword fighting. Obviously, her language skills and martial arts are only one aspect of all her skills. Her theater credits include Numb, Redwood Curtain and M. Butterfly. She is also a member of the Met Theater Development Ensemble.

Liu is also a gifted artist; her work first appeared at the Cast Iron Gallery in SoHo in the early eighties. In 1993, she received an art grant to study art in China. She exhibited a mix of media photography, ceramics, paints, wood collages and papers on her chronicled experiences, in Venice, CA.

Liu is also a fearless athlete; she practices rock climbing, skiing and horseback riding. She experienced a few bad falls, first from her horse and then from her bicycle. These injuries didn't stop her from wanting to buy a motorcycle and from taking up snowboarding. She is also an accomplished accordion player, having been taught The Bak Gwi Plunder by the same teacher as Greg Germann, and surprisingly they now drag their accordions to work and jam between sets."


wow! talk about multi-talented! pretty inspiring.. heheh..

non-sequitur pic:

flags a-fluttering at esplanade bay

Saturday, 8 November 2003

The Meatrix

THE MEATRIX is so cool!!

(via krisalis)
st andrew’s cathedral

a disjointed beam of light in st andrew's cathedral

i've recently been introduced to this (i think) newly-coined photographic term "eco-porn", which famous nature photographer Galen Rowell describes as "saccharine, overly idealized (and manipulated) commercial scenics that were not representative of the natural world they supposedly depicted" … these photographs are “glamour shots that in some way debase the natural world…. flash-filled, colour-filtered, posed, stagnant photography in certain calendars, greeting cards, posters, advertisements, and on television. These images serve to distance people from nature."

nature photography, in his opinion, has reached a “plateau” in its development, in contrast to other fields such as fashion and journalistic photography, where new styles and approaches were still constantly developed. nature photographs were clich├ęd, postcard-pretty, with little thought put into them except to take that “perfect-looking picture”

This set me thinking.. Indeed, I’ve been guilty, myself, of having taken hundreds of pictures in the past just because they are “oh so pretty!”.. Rowell's approach to capturing a "wow" photograph is certainly worth learning from:
"When something struck his eye, he wanted to understand that attraction more fully. He would look at that object of interest from every angle and distance possible. And the final "keeper" photo may well have been very different from his original instinct because he examined the situation with an open and inquiring mind, and a methodical approach to exploiting the opportunity. "

personally, of late, i've realized the importance of reinventing my approach in order to improve my own photography, as well as, more importantly, to bring my enthusiasm and passion for this love of mine to a higher level.. To share my newly-discovered approach, it is this: More than just making sure the picture is sharp or well-exposed, it is more critical to first understand the "mood" and "story", or the so-called "experience" i want to communicate via the image – be it humour, awe, mystery etc before deciding if the photograph is worth taking after all.. I’ve realized that photography is about communicating a personal unique view of the world at a specific moment at a specific place.. if there is no "story" to tell, the photograph may be "pretty" but "uninteresting"..

In the same way that Elie Wiesel, who survived the Holocaust and later won the Nobel Peace Prize said, "Not to transmit an experience is to betray it", this approach is certainly not as easy as just spotting a potential photograph and snapping it in the prettiest way possible, but I believe something like that will surely be hugely rewarding for any photographer.

Just some thoughts and a bit of a ramble. this discourse is, of course, a bit shallow at the moment, I must admit.. i'll give it a little more thought and see if i can make it more "concrete" and meaningful...

Friday, 7 November 2003

the cenotaph

looking at the moon

check out my first ever moon photo.. :)



see a bigger one here... the surface of the moon is patchy, reminding me of the skins of black-and-white cows.. hahaha..

i've decided that one of my new year's resolutions for 2004 will include getting myself started in Black & White Photography... either join a course or just start seriously experimenting..

anyone care to join me? :)
topics to (not) write about

got this via Michelle F10, who's taking her 'O' levels exams now... The 'O' Levels English Language Paper 1 Questions

these essay/composition questions are, in my opinion, pretty darn bad... i wonder what kind of creativity they will actually allow.. besides, they sound pretty convoluted and are totally uninspiring.. i can imagine myself getting into a writer's block in the middle of the exams..

i half suspect they are written up by the same people who wrote the themes for the Canon Photo Marathon..

hahhaha..

Thursday, 6 November 2003

lame jokes to start off your day

Legally Blond

A blonde calls across the river to a blonde on the other bank,
"How can I get to the other side?"

The second blonde looks up the river then down the river then shouts back,
"You ARE on the other side!"


Escaped Midget

Q: What do you call a psychic midget who just escaped from jail?

A: A small medium at large.

Inline Skating

Fitness skating burns 570 - 900 calories an hour

wow!
Men & Women

"There are no frigid women; there are only men with no experience."

Gregorio Maranon


trust me, i'm not a feminist.. haha.. i'm just writing a cool quote i found.. anyway, Dr Gregorio Maranon is a guy himself..
hotel soap saga

have you read this before?

Hotel Soap Saga

it's really really funny.. reminds me of the Swissotel hotel story on Karen's blog.. haha

i think service people are really strange sometimes.. a friend of mine missed a flight recently 'cos his luggage was "overweight" and the service counter people sent him on a wild goose chase all over the airport, refusing to help him solve his problem... in the last 5 minutes, they just said with a (so he claims) evil smirk:

"oh, too late already.. the gates are closed"...

cruel huh?? oh well..

Wednesday, 5 November 2003

A real life hypochondriac speaks...

i don't know when and i don't know how.. but midway through this year, i suddenly became a hypochondriac.. this is something i would normally have been shy to talk about.. umm.. am i making this sound like a coming-out-of-the-closet thing??? haha....

last night, for example, i was sure i had tooth decay.

[][][][]~[] - Ascii-art of row of teeth with a missing tooth..

i was fussing over this annoying ulcer on my gums when i realised these jumbo-sized (ok, i exaggerate..) bits of solid white stuff falling off the surface of one of my back teeth. i gasped, convinced that that particular tooth was disintegrating! in retrospect, i guess tooth decay would normally be accompanied by a certain amount of pain or swelling or something, right? .. anyway, at that time, nothing was going to convince me otherwise.. I WAS SURE I HAD TOOTH DECAY!!

it really freaked me out, considering i've never had dental problems all these years of my life (i didn't even extract any of my wisdom teeth!), and my long trip was coming up, so this was certainly not a welcome thing at all.. i think i even slept badly last night because of this!

anyway, it turned out, after my visit to the dentist this morning, that it was just a bad case of tartar build-up cos i haven't been to the dentist for a while..:p.. phew! .. those white bits were tartar.. grr... gross...

anyway, back to my hypochondria story.. so i kinda recalled all the minor "calamities" i had this year and realised that i thrice thought i had cancer, once believed i had kidney disease, briefly thought i will lose one eye, numerous times thought i had appendicitis and last but not least, thought i had tooth decay yesterday..

sigh...
From the "Hypochondriac's Guide to Life. And Death."

try this simple diagnostic test:

Reach into your pocket or purse. Feel for a coin. Don't take it out,
just explore its surfaces with your fingertips. Can you tell which side is
heads and which is tails? You should be able to. This is called "stereognosis,"
and it is a basic test of the functioning of the parietal lobes of the brain.
Failure to distinguish heads from tails can sometimes herald the presence
of a parietal lobe tumour or an oncoming stroke.


Note: This is taken from a humour book.. don't take it too seriously... :p

Tuesday, 4 November 2003

15



urged by our Educational Psychology lecturer (who herself is a counsellor for wayward teenagers), a small group of us trainee teachers (sometimes called teacher trainees - whatever..) trooped down to the cinema this afternoon to watch 15, hoping to catch a glimpse of the secret life of the juvenile delinquents we may possibly (gulp!) encounter when we eventually go out into the classrooms..

Roystan Tan has certainly got a brilliant piece of work here.

More than just a glimpse, I felt that we were given a chance to have a pretty good look into the dark (yet colourful), confused, purposeless and directionless existence of these troubled teenagers. I particularly liked the cleverly juxtaposed random scenes of what could have caused their waywardness (a father swearing in hokkien in the background whose face we are never shown, a mention of a mother with many "boyfriends" etc), the touch of realistic (albeit risque) humour, grainy lomo-nesque flashbacks, exaggerated actions and the occassional scene shot in a manner seemingly adapted from genres which would be familiar to these teenagers (e.g. wuxia - chinese martial arts - comics, taxi driver lingo, J-Pop etc)

it was a sad and realistic look at a "sub-culture" left behind by mainstream society, which few of us would ever come close to understanding and empathising with.. in fact, our own prejudices were shown through the typical irritated and disgusted reactions of the "aunties" in the show...

from my (no doubt privileged) personal encounter with some of these heavily-tattooed teens several years ago (no, i wasn't an "Ah Lian"* myself... trust me.. :p), I learnt that most of them were really very much like the rest of us, looking for the same things in life - Love, Acceptance, Friendship, Meaning & Purpose, & A Better Life.. but unlike for us, these dreams were far far away for them, always remaining elusive.. Eventually, many of these teens stop believing in their dreams.. sometimes, they stop believing in Life altogether too..

I don't know what I will be able to do if ever i'm presented with the opportunity/challenge of dealing with one or more of these troubled kids..

By the grace of God, hope I'll have the wisdom then to know the right thing to do...

here's a spoiler-less review

*You'll have to find the characteristics of an Ah Lian here .. i just found that i couldn't quite define one.. :p
misplaced resources?

this is the sort of thing i hate to read in the morning...

News - Congress OKs US$87.5B for Iraq, Afghanistan... and "the bill includes $64.7 billion for U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. "

it stumps me, particularly when it is juxtaposed against the knowledge in my brain that:

"...we would be able to eradicate world poverty with merely 1 % of the world’s income." and that the world is now dangerously short of meeting the 2015 UN Millennium Development Goals for "universal primary education, halving world poverty, and reducing child deaths by two-thirds..and a whole list more.."

what's happening? :( so much suffering already and yet they add more...

here's a good article on "How to Eradicate Terrorism by Fighting Poverty"

why haven't the leaders in power realised that terrorism isn't going to go away just by killing the so-called "terrorists"?...

Monday, 3 November 2003

Quotes On Marriage

Katharine Hepburn :

Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.

Katharine Hepburn:

If you want to sacrifice the admiration of many men for the criticism of one, go ahead, get married.

Friedrich Nietzsche:

It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.

Harriet Martineau:

Any one must see at a glance that if men and women marry those whom they do not love, they must love those whom they do not marry.

Joyce Brothers:

My husband and I have never considered divorce... murder sometimes, but never divorce.

Oscar Wilde:

Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.

Samuel Johnson:

Marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.

Socrates:

My advice to you is to get married. If you find a good wife, you'll be happy; if not, you'll become a philosopher.

from this wonderful site of quotes

hahahaha... :D ... me a cynic?? no.. ... WHAT gave you THAT idea??? :O

Sunday, 2 November 2003

Exercising Chicken

i think i am a really strange person..

you know what i did while i was watching this Exercising Chicken website i got via photokalia??

i started thinking that these were perhaps real exercises cos i believe someone had to be demonstrating them while the webdesigner was creating the images..

so i .... STARTED FOLLOWING THE CHICKEN'S MOVEMENTS!! :D hahahahaha..

anyway, it's quite fun.. you should try it too.. i think you have been surfing the net for too long.. just don't let your family members think you are nutz..

Try it!!!
Weight Watchers

i found an old weighing machine (a relic from the 70s/early 80s i bet!) around the tanjong pagar area yesterday and couldn't resist getting on it. it's one of those that gives your weight and tells your fortune all-in-one.... see a pic of the little cardboard card that it dispensed..

not that i am crazy about the fortune-telling bit (actually, i hate to have my future told.. 'cos it takes away the excitement of knowing what's coming up?? :p... haha... actually, on a serious and honest note, it's cos i DO trust "HIM who holds the future".. :) ... i don't even read horoscopes...) anyway, think those machines are way cool.. they're in the league of juke boxes... old, crummy, stained and cool... :)

on a related note, i was shocked to read, from this article "Obesity Not Fattening Fitness Firms" that obesity is now an EPIDEMIC in the US with "nearly two-thirds of the population now overweight"!!! grr.. imagine walking on the streets and seeing 2 out of 3 people oozing fats from their sides.... oh dear...

for the rest of us, we are allowed to read this: In Praise of Chocolate.. :p
aurora borealis

the Northern Lights is something i wanna see at least once in my life..

Photos

More Photos

amazing huh?.. :)
bright and yellow

ho ho!

ain't this layout bright and cheery!! :D

woo hoo!! first change in 2 years 3 months!!! hahahah

no more drab and pastelly!! no more #c9c994!!

Saturday, 1 November 2003

If I'd Known Then What I Know Now

got this bit of self-help gem from J. R. Parrish's book:

Your future will depend on your answers to these questions:

- Will you listen to those who have been where you're going?

- Will you study/work hard and truly do your best?

- Will you date the right people and for the right reasons?

- Will you keep a good and positive attitude?

- Will you form good habits?

- Will you control your thinking?


According to Parrish, there are three keys to success and contentment in life. They are:

1. Knowing that the greatest need of everyone after food, clothing and shelter is the need to feel important. Eighty percent of failure is inability to deal effectively with people, not inability to do the job. If you make other people feel important, success will follow.

2. Accepting the "Better World Theory," which says if you want a better life for yourself, it's up to you to make it happen. By acknowledging this fact, you stop blaming others and realize that you are where you are in life because of your own choices. Your motto should become "If it's to be, it's up to me." When you eliminate blame from your life, you also eliminate anger, because all anger distills down to blame.

3. Realizing your success or failure is determined largely by your habits. Bad habits invite failure, but good habits unlock the door to success and happiness.

i've only flipped through it briefly but i think it's hard to disagree with stuff like that.. pretty good book i think.. you can borrow it from the Library@Orchard once my sis and I return it..
midnite surfing..

these marathon monks of mount hiei are really strange... this site gives even more details..

"Tendai Buddhist tradition dictates that if Kakudo (name of one of the monks) does not complete his prescribed marathon runs and walks, and all the accompanying tasks, he must take his own life by either hanging or disemboweling himself. "

:O

Friday, 31 October 2003

one of those days

today's one of those days when i go out intending to get things done and nothing really gets done...

so i came home and did a scanner photography of some rainforest tree seeds i found on my way home one day some time ago....

pretty huh?

:)

days like this one needs to practice positive self-talk....

anyway, it got me started thinking about what new adventures i would want for next year and what plans i should make .....i know it's still a bit early but i've come up with a sort of draft of my New Year Resolutions for 2004...

hahaha.. kiasu enough for you??
History of Halloween

1. The History and Legends of Trick or Treating

2. Halloween - Myths, Monsters & Devils

(via email .. yo, thanks! :))


happy halloween? :p
Singapore Colloquial English vs. Singapore Standard English

i'm doing my final assignment (Language Description and Use) for this semester and i chanced upon this rather amusing piece while doing my research:

The 3 Little Pigs – Singapore version

Ones apron a time got tree little pig, call them Ah Beng, Ah Seng and Ah Tee. They think they big already and no wan to liv with mama, because liv with mama sometimes quite pek chek and also can become suaku! So they say goodbye to their mama and go out of house. Mama tell them to be careful of the big, bad woof, because you know, this big, bad sabo king want to eat them. They tell their mama, "we know lah, not scared one". We build house so woof cannot get us. If he try, he will be sorry.

The first pig, Ah Beng he think he very clever, he also cannot wait one, very kancheong type you know. So he build a house very quickly. Finish very fast- how? Aiyoh, he use straw lor, just tie and tie and tie together and then very quick okay already.

This woof very clever kay see, so he pretend and say nice things and ask Ah Beng to let him to inside house. Little Ah Beng also quite clever, he say, "No way man, I know you, don't bluff. Sorry you not welcome here".

The woof say "U no let me in mare? U dare mare? I blow your house down then you know". And he blow and blow and he poon and poon and he use all his inside strength and jia lat man, Ah Beng's house come down.

...

Moral of the story :->

Number 1 - do things slow, slow, must plan, think, plan, nowsdays they say strategic planning. No lush and lush and chin chai build. Chin chai do things ownself die - never think, how can use straw build house, how can house be strong, sure kanna one lah.

Number 2 - don't be so tum sim. Blow down one house, two house not enough want to blow until all tree. Given people some face, don't be too hao lian! In the end too tum sim also kanna - woof kanna heart attack.
Same lah we all also like that, enough is enough, some people pia until they mati.

Number 3 - those who got must kongsi with those who no got then the world sure better place. Remember : if you have and your neightbor no have, kongsi lah. And those who tumpang must know cannot tumpang too long, or else. But when kongsi right hand must not know what left hand give or else no use lah.
This mean kongsi quietly, don't let whole world know you give okay.
Very chim, right?


this was originally taken from this website which is no longer in existence...

anyway, my point is, isn't it really amazing how 99% of all true blue Singaporeans should have almost no problems at all understanding this story, no matter what their SES (i.e. Social Economic Status) while almost ALL foreigners will be struggling through it??

Singlish is truly our lingua franca... :p

Thursday, 30 October 2003

view of...

Earth

nice...
Ashes of Time

i have just finished watching a grainy $6.90 VCD (<--- please note, this is not a pirated VCD.. it just happens to be a really old movie. i bought it from a shop in City Hall - if you wanna get it i'll tell you the name of the shop, k? i'm not in the habit of buying pirated vcds or downloading stuff from kazaa) of Wong Kar Wai's period "action" movie "Ashes of Time".... umm...

let's just say that this movie review captures how i feel as closely as i can personally put it...

"More about insistent memory than triumphant swordplay, Ashes of Time is an "action movie about inaction," about swordsmen in their twilight, seemingly at the edge of the world, marooned by thoughts tantalizingly clouded with lovesick memories, by the ache of loves lost. Every character herein pines for someone offscreen, and the desiccated landscape, the Leonesque use of close-ups and Morricone inspired scoring, and the amazing pitch-perfect performances from the most glamorous stars ever to shine down on earth make these characters resonate with the force of archetypes. Though the blur of action sequences are certainly dazzling and glorious, this is mostly a movie of lone figures staring towards unseen, sometimes internal, horizons, their hearts lodged in another time. "

something like "The Secret Life of Martial Arts Heroes" .... haha.. still, it's a visual treat of a movie though i'm still scratching my head about some of the scenes (i think i must definitely watch it again.. very cheem...).. nonetheless, the movie is packed with all the famous HK stars you can possibly imagine.. it's directed by Wong Kar Wai and features stars like Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia, Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Jacky Cheung, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Carina Lau, Charlie Yeung etc....

it's become a bit of a "cult movie" in the US and Hongkong apparently, as a result of how unconventional it is..

**my head is now spinning**
the cost of war

If there is one Bin Laden now, there will be 100 Bin Ladens afterward
- Hosni Mubarak in speech on the Iraq war, 31 March 2003(2)

I am going to kill America - not today, after 10 years
- father of nine-month-old Iraqi girl killed by cluster bomblet

The Wages of War: Iraqi Combatant and Noncombatant Fatalities in the 2003 Conflict. PDA Research Monograph 8, 20 October 2003. Carl Conetta.

can war ever be justified?

Wednesday, 29 October 2003

more wisdom

here's a bit more blogging before i start doing my next assignment.. sigh..zzzz... :p


“Some people die at twenty-five and aren’t
buried until they are seventy-five.”


-- Benjamin Franklin


"I dreamed a thousand new paths.
I woke and walked my old one."


-- Chinese Proverb


"We've got to have a dream if we
are going to make a dream come true."


-- Denis Waitley
wisdom from the sages

according to Richard Leider, who wrote "The Power of Purpose", older adults (over age 65) who were asked the deeply profound question:

"If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?"

consistently said they would:

1. Be more reflective.

2. Be more courageous.

3. Be clear earlier about (their life) purpose.


considering that most of us are still relatively far from that age (i hope).. perhaps this is something that we should start pondering about....??

OLD, you say you are?? ... Consider:

"A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams. " ... John Barrymore
What Finding Nemo Character are You?

You are NEMO!

brought to you by Quizilla

I'm NEMO!! :D
food glorious food (and more..)

i've been overdosing on rich foods these two days...

yesterday's lunch: fish & co @ jurong point - seafood platter and clam chowder soup.. burp... a little too much to eat considering it's lunch...

yesterday's dinner: tamade @ robertson quay - remember visiting it 2 years ago... still as good, but with a smaller, more focused menu.. wonderful tomato/lemongrass soup, some beef thing, and the chocolate pudding with ice cream was heavenly!!

today's lunch: nothing to scream about - NIE canteen food

today's dinner: salt @ amoy street - fusion food.. the chilean seabass was a blast! in fact, everything was good! nothing was... err.. too SALTY??? hahaha.. highly recommended restaurant!! and we had wine and cake 'cos it's my sis' birthday! :)

after dinner treat: kazbar @ far east square - middle eastern/meditteranean bar/cafe (music was good.. after a round of drinks, we actually felt like getting up to do belly dancing.. haha.. but instead, we got ourselves a shisha/hookah! woo hoo! :) for those who are unfamiliar, it's this waterpipe thing that is ubiquitous in the streets of Egypt, Turkey and parts of Morocco .. shisha is the tobacco mixed with molasses and fruit flavors (usually apple) and this stuff is smoked in a hookah - this glass vessel thing filled with water you can blow bubbles in and with the heated tobacco and coal on top..)

you've seen it in Alice in Wonderland smoked by the Caterpillar..

Shisha smoking species

it's one of those things you have to try at least once in your life.. if not more.. haha.. :p.. it's really a lot nicer than you think..

next two days shall have plaincongee to detox...

Tuesday, 28 October 2003

about love

Margaret Anderson said:

"In real love you want the other person's good. In romantic love you want the other person."

do you agree??

or from Ambrose Bierce:

"Love: a temporary insanity, curable by marriage."

hahaha..

but Bertrand Russell's? i like very much:

"Three passions have governed my life:
The longings for love, the search for knowledge,
And unbearable pity for the suffering of [humankind].

Love brings ecstasy and relieves loneliness.
In the union of love I have seen
In a mystic miniature the prefiguring vision
Of the heavens that saints and poets have imagined.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge.
I have wished to understand the hearts of [people].
I have wished to know why the stars shine.

Love and knowledge led upwards to the heavens,
But always pity brought me back to earth;
Cries of pain reverberated in my heart
Of children in famine, of victims tortured
And of old people left helpless.
I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot,
And I too suffer.

This has been my life; I found it worth living. "


truly.. love that i cannot disagree with..

all from Love Quotes.. no, i'm not "in the mood for love".. i'm just clearing messages from my phone and i found the one on margaret anderson and thought i'll just blog it here for record. .ya, that's why..

Monday, 27 October 2003

me, tv and indian trains

i watched TV for the first time in half a year.. i mean, of course i haven't been consciously avoiding the tv set all these few months.. what i mean is, i do glance at it occassionally while i'm going to and from the kitchen, to casually see what my mum (or whoever) is watching and may stick around for about 10 mins or so .. but to actually turn on the TV to watch a show from start to end is really something i haven't done in a long long time..

in an attempt to recover from that tedious essay paper we finally handed in today (the 2000 worder to analyse a kid's psychosocial development), i flipped on the TV set just now and watched 10 mins of "F.r.i.e.n.d.s" (which wasn't half as funny as i thought it would be) and the episode of "The Practice". wow, The Practice is really a pretty good show - the plot is intriguing and the acting was definitely a joy to watch.. wonder if this will finally break my long spell of not watching the tele.. umm...

anyway, the point is, i do often wonder what i'm missing by not watching television.. is there something that surfing the net, listening to the radio, and reading the papers and the economist cannot replace?..

i found this The Importance of Watching TV article online just now but it's for people trying to "improve their English listening skills and accustom themselves to American life.".. then i found that most of the other articles were in fact about the dangers of watching TV to health or something similar to that.. e.g. "Being Sedentary, Such as Watching a Lot of TV, Increases the Risk for Diabetes" or this one that says: "HOW TO PREVENT NEWS FROM INFECTING YOUR MIND WITH PESSIMISM" (this was the same philosophy a friend of mine used to have as well! :p).... i guess i haven't missed much then.. haha..

on a scary note, i was surfing the net just now for train tickets from New Delhi to Calcutta (now called Kolkata) and top on the list of Google was this bleak news dated September 10, 2002 .. scary!!! :O

maybe i should fly instead?...

Sunday, 26 October 2003

Erik Erikson's views on psychosocial development

Famed psychologist, Erik Erikson argued that development is a lifelong process, from conception until death. He argued that we go through eight stages, the first in infancy and the last in old age. At each stage there is a crisis that we must deal with. The most famous crisis that Erikson proposed is that which we experience during adolescence: the identity crisis.

During adolescence, the crisis is identity. We must figure out who we are. Erikson argued that in order to come to a sense of identity, teens must engage in exploration. They must try out new ways of thinking and behaving. Erikson would explain the many 'phases' that teens go through as their attempts at exploration. They explore with new ways of looking, new ideas, new groups of friends, new styles of music, with everything. Only after exploring a variety of options should teens commit to an identity.

Erikson argued that there are two potential outcomes to the identity search process: identity achievement or identity diffusion.

The identity achieved person is one who has come to a firm sense of self after engaging in a long search full of exploration. He or she tends to have high self esteem, is socially skilled, and does well in life.

The opposite end of the spectrum is the identity diffused person. This is one who at the end of adolescence or beginning of adulthood has not achieved a sense of identity. Perhaps he or she never explored or explored and never committed. Erikson argued that the person who is identity diffused will have difficulties successfully resolving the later crises in life. The diffused person is likely to have low self esteem, have trouble making friends, and be much less successful than the identity achieved person.

Because each of Erikson's stages build upon each other, the person who is identity diffused, or who has not successfully resolved the identity crisis, will have difficulty resolving the crises to come. For example, in young adulthood, the crisis is regarding intimacy– to find someone to share your life with. How can you do that if you don't know who you are?


this is me taking a chunk of what i have just read and dumping it onto my unsuspecting blog audience .. hahahaha... btw, this is Stage 5 of the 8-stages i described earlier.

enjoy and ponder!
pain & suffering (Part Deux)

adding to the wonderful quote i posted two days ago...

(continuing two days later)

i wrote the quote two days ago mainly to remind myself that while no one (well, almost no one, i guess) chooses pain, suffering is very often a matter of choice, relatively speaking, whether or not most of us are willing to admit to it .. the fact remains that most of us carry years of guilt, shame, low self-esteem, anger, hate... largely unreasonably and unthinkingly ("unscrutinized")... and at the end of life's journeys will surely find no one left to blame for the negativity we feel.. except ourselves..

it's really scary when i think about it this way.. it seems then that coming to a resolution about many of the so-called "issues" in our lives seem the most intelligent thing to do. and very urgent too...

quoted from Yoda:

"...But beware. Anger, fear, aggression. The dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny."

"“"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to s u f f e r i n g....!!!”

a friend of mine once told me, quoting from Krishnamurti, that the two greatest forces driving a man (or person) are Love and Fear.. i remember finding that a little bit unbelieveable, but on reflection, i see the truth of it.. Test this out on yourself first. Think of something you are angry about, something you hate, or something you are suffering over and follow it back until you figure out what you are fearful about (fear that people won't understand, fear of acceptance, fear of not being normal, fear of failure, afraid it won't work, afraid of what will happen next, etc. etc..)

even for educators like myself, according to Krishnamurti, you have to understand the implication of fear, how fear comes about. Just as you know about other subjects, you have to know something of fear. Society is doing everything to inculcate fear by laying down standards, religious ideals, class distinctions, ideas of success, the sense of the inferior and the superior, the rich man and the poor man. Society is doing everything possible to breed distorted values.

fear, pain, suffering.. life is indeed a long learning journey...

Saturday, 25 October 2003

The Importance of Friends (& Possibly Lovers?)

i'm doing an educational psychology assignment now and it involves analysing a teenager/adolescent (I interviewed last month during my one week "School Experience") in terms of his/her psychological development and formation of what we call a "self concept".

in my research, i found this bunch of findings by this guy called Erik Erikson, who says (among many other things) that the period of "early adulthood (approximately 18 years old to 35 years old", which is actually Stage 6 (Intimacy vs. Isolation) of his 8-stage theory, is critical for developing "true and intimate relationships" and the virtue of "Love". This is presumably the stage that most of us are in now...

It is not meant to be limited to romantic, sexualized relationships, but friendships as well. He describes that it is necessary to "drop ego-boundaries" in this process in order to "resolve any crisis" that we experience at this stage (note that crisis/conflict resolution is critical for mastering each stage as well). He also says that it is "vital to this phase that a solid sense of identity precede it" - which means that the individual should have developed/established an amount of "certainty" regarding his or her identity in the previous stage (i.e. Stage 5) before he/she can successfully "navigate" this phase..

However, what is most critical about his theory is that, according to Erikson, "those who are unable to achieve this (i.e. those who never know this intimacy", in this stage of their lives, will develop a sense of isolation and self-absorption and tend to avoid relationships with others and make commitments!

Worse still, failure in this phase may lead to "Schizoid Personality"!!!

grrr... make friends! make lovers!
Kill Bill



just back from a midnite showing of Kill Bill and i tell you, this is one amazing movie!! wow! blew our minds! LOVE IT!! it's a close contender for my personal Movie-of-the-Year definitely!

it was so.. so.. darn, i can't put it into words~! beautiful? classic? weird?? AWESOME???

lest i accidentally introduce some spoilers here, all i will say for now is that it was Japanese anime meets classic Quentin style meets Kurosawa meets Chinese swordfight serial... my movie companion tells me it reminds him of Wong Kar Wai's "Ashes of Time".. maybe it's a movie from the same genre.. should go find it and watch it too then - since it's got Maggie Cheung in it as well!! hooray!

in short, the movie was Awesome with a capital "A"! i can't imagine anyone wanting to miss this for anything!!

and btw, don't "wait for the VCD" - a movie like this deserves to be seen on the big screen for the FULL EFFECT!! :D

you may also wanna check out the ultracool website in the meantime.. some awesome flash animation to go along with the show, anyone?? :)

Friday, 24 October 2003

about pain and suffering

Pain is an event. ...Suffering, on the other hand, is the nightmare of reliving unscrutinized and unmetabolized pain.

-- Audre Lorde, "Eye to Eye," Sister Outsider (1984)

Thursday, 23 October 2003

What Color Is Your Aura?

green aura

Your aura shines Green!

brought to you by Quizilla
Thank God for good friends

Thank God for friends who speak to us and through their words, they knock sense into us, breaking us from the bondage of self-denial and self-delusion, as well as the artificial feelings of self-importance and self-righteousness...

friends like these are more precious than all the jewels of the Earth..

This day, i learnt something important about Life because i listened to a friend of mine and i'm all the better for it..

thank you... :) ... you know who you are..

Wednesday, 22 October 2003

lomo bashing

there is a thread going on now in the popular Clubsnap forum (see ClubSNAP - LOMOGraphy is.....) in which some pro- "serious photography" folks are slamming Lomography as a cheap, “over-hyped, non-artform”.. wow, pretty scary how vehement some of them are.. calling it everything from “a disease” to “con job” and even “vulgar”..

to me, it’s just something fun .. a little like what scanner photography and pinhole photography can be.. silly, random, pointless but nevertheless fun.. and sometimes, it can be “artistic” too, especially if I’m trying to make a statement about something with an effect that I achieve with the camera..

while I don’t have much of an opinion regarding the argument that it may not be entirely “ethical” to take a cheap, Russian-made camera, make it into a cultural icon, and then price it up accordingly to sell to the world through some elaborate business model, I'm afraid that what makes most of these people upset may be just that these two guys have been tremendously successful in what they are doing and the whole world appears to be gullibly “taken in” by this big "scam".. me? I don’t think people are really all that gullible.. it’s always a choice, no? so, in my opinion, a lot of it may be just jealousy.. which isn’t a good thing to have, I think..

anyhow, it’s clearly just great marketing at the end of it.. like how popular plastic toys like Bearbrick have become, or nike, or any of the big brandnames that people are willing to pay a premium for... and we ourselves sometimes just enjoy paying for it for the "feel-good" factor, right? nothing much to it.. no need to make a fuss about it..
photomarathon winners

the winning entries for the Photo Marathon Contest are up!

check them out.. :)

in the meantime, i continue to put up those futile attempts of mine on my fotolog.. haha.. :p enjoy...

Tuesday, 21 October 2003

Nationalism, Globalisation and Borderless Worlds

i'm getting a buzz doing my Economics assignment on International Trade.... haha.. which is great since it's Homework (with a capital 'H') after all.. been sort of keeping an eye on this issue since the collapse of the WTO trade talks at Cancun (Mexico) about a month back and it's really quite interesting to read about the issue from the perspectives of both the rich as well as developing nations..

i realised that both sides can actually see the value of having freer trade but the deadlock is really because neither side is willing to budge, especially the rich US and EU countries.. grr... personally, i don't see a way out of this impasse as long as both sides are so intent on their own agendas and have little regard for the other..

coincidentally, i'm trying to find time, as soon as possible, to read these two fantastic books on my table: Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson (which i borrowed) and Joseph Stiglitz's Globalization and its discontents (which i bought today from Kino).. Benedict Anderson's book is particularly intriguing, investigating the reason for "What makes people love and die for nations, as well as hate and kill in their name?".. he describes nations as "imagined communities", existing primarily on the basis of loosely defined "cultural roots" and "imagined" deep, horizontal comradeships.. i'm still on Chapter 2. i'll see what else i come up with once i read further..

non sequitur: Ho Kee Pau Kopitiam at the corner of Geylang Rd and Sims Avenue is an excellent place for dinner.. their specialty is the chicken noodles and you can order a selection of dim sums to go along with it... sedap sekali! :) .. ate dinner here with two friends today while discussing the great notion of nationalism as well as (what i think is) its diametric counterpart: senseless crossborder wanderings.. hhaha.. anyway, it's a nice and relaxing place for an evening teh peng, if you are ever in the mood..

Monday, 20 October 2003

How Erotic a Lover are You?

Subtle Lover
Subtle

You like it when eroticism has been built up to
such a level that it only takes a sexy look to
make you feel weak at the knees. Sexual games
really appeal since, for you, good sex happens
in the brain.

The subtle lover is a master of eroticism because a
subtle mind can take hold of fine nuances of
suggestion and allow them to develop into
something creative and different. You are
fortunate in having such a distinctive
imagination linked with the ability to understand
your unique and special sexual impact.
The downside is that as a subtle lover
you may come to require elaborate fantasies for
total satisfaction. A major task in life,
therefore, is to discover a partner whose
inventiveness and imagination match up - a mind
and personality that compliment your own. This
will not always be easy, but it's definitely
worth holding out for the right person.
Together you can explore an exciting world of
luscious sensuality and pure eroticism that
most couples desire but never attain.


(brought to you by Quizilla)

don't freak out just because i do a quiz like that, ya?
new toy

came back and found my NIMSLO 3D 35mm camera waiting for me on the floor - fresh from it's long voyage across the Pacific! bought it for a steal off eBay some time back and got it sent to a dear friend in the US who forwarded it to me..

thanks Ken! you're a dear!! :)

The Nimslo 3D - taken with scanner photography

i even found the full manual online! :) for the uninformed, this funny antique (no longer produced, apparently) little thing takes 4 half frame images that are slightly offset so when you view them, they actually come out looking a bit "3D" --- remember long long time ago (btw, i'm talking only to people of MY generation.. hahah..), you watched the Jaws 3D movie and they gave you those funny cellophane plastic & paper glasses that made the movie extra scary cos the Great White Shark literally jumps out at you?? this is a little bit like that! they call it stereo photography or something..

great!! gonna have lots of fun with this once i figure out how to use it.. :)

i think i cannot expect superb results though.... just read: The Nimslo camera didn't catch on widely. It was difficult for the average person to get consistently good results.. and the 3D effect was limited .. see first lor..

Update: Just found out: "There's only one place in the world which offers 3D lenticular prints from the Nimslo and Nishika four lens cameras, the i3Dx division of Orasee Corporation".... aahhhhhhhh :O ....... is the camera doomed to a lifetime of sitting on the shelf??? the only alternative is to convert it into a nimslo panoramic camera.... umm... sounds fun too...

eh?? * suddenly recalling** wasn't that my original idea?? ** looks around confused**