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!


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..


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


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


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." ?


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


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??

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..


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 - 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!


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


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..


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

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..

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


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.


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..


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..


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. "