terse & at large

GRRRRR. Arrrgh. And sometimes a travel log.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

A Not-so Favourite Waste of Time

So, I was delayed 1 and a half hours at the college yesterday because of several SNAFUs.

Firstly, the announcement that was suppposed to be made in the morning at Assembly wasn't. To be fair, the teacher I SMSed to write the announcement did as she was asked. Somehow, though, the teacher with the announcement book, when it was brought to the podium for Assembly, managed to miss my announcement, which was supposed to be that I would only be in college between 10 am and 1 pm.

Still not a unsalvageable situation.

Then, the same teacher who missed my announcement, made it over the PA system. Good idea? Sure. Perhaps, though, it would have been better if the PA system was working in the Lecture Theatres. Right about then, still only about half the college knew of my hours.

So, at about noon, only about half the college had their class photos. Not a big deal, I thought (foolishly), that the kids would come by during their lunch period. After all, I did indicate on the acknowledgement forms that I would be making the deliveries on 30 July 2004. They had to remember that.

Still too much to ask for, apparently.

By the time I was supposed to leave, there were still about 26 or so orders left. I decided to be nice about about. Half an hour more. Just half an hour. I'll leave on the dot. At half-one. I can still make a lunch with a client; instead of MRTing it, I'd just take a cab.

And the reason why I'm being this nice? Two classes hadn't paid in full by then, and I had to wait for them to pay the balance before I go away. The only reason.

So, it took them another hour to come (and only because I had help from a couple of students - Thanks! - who had the mobile phone numbers of the class reps of the two errant classes), and by then, I couldn't even make the lunch. Which makes for two very pissed people: the client and I.

Finally, deposited the remaining with some teachers in the Staff Room and left after that. I'd originally planned to take the distribution process away from Civics Tutors (Form Teachers) because of their administrative loads and shit, but some days, I just couldn't give a flying fuck.

Yesterday was one of those days.


On the other hand, I managed to finish digital imaging on a couple more images for CAGES. I've been given a firm deadline (next Wednesday), so it's a lot easier for me to work on them now. Just the motivation I needed.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Wrong Numbers

Just got a call from someone who asked whether his camera was ready. Without preamble. Without checking to see if he'd got the correct number.


Anyway, seeing that I've been awoken more times today than ever before, I admit I was rather curt with him (despite his being a photographer and all): "I don't know if your camera's ready. Why don't you call the correct number?"

"What's the number?"

Obviously he wasn't used to sarcasm.

Must be an engineer.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Midnight Gripes

Three of them, and in no particular order:

1. Had the misfortune of being in a cab where the steering oscillates 30-degrees constantly (even when we're stopped). I was debating whether I should spew, just to make a point.

2. Why do people wave rigorously at taxis, whose tops are clearly red-lit and says "HIRED", and then proceed to take umbrage when the cabbie doesn't pull over for them?

3. Back to my cabbie: What's with the flashing of high beams at the cars in front even when it isn't time to move? The dude was doing it at red lights.


Just back from drinks with the CAGES (ha! I'm not referring to it as CAGES the Movie any more... oh. Darn) crew.

Rather long, fruitful day, what, with the press conference in the morning (I'd asked the missus to tape the news for me, in the vain hope I would get my 15 seconds of fame), and then the thank-you dinner in the evening, followed by drinks.

Then again, I'd consider any day that ends with some drinks a Good Day. So what do I know?

All that's left to say is that the die is cast, and after this weekend, I can devote my time fully to the fruition of my part within the project.

And tonight. I get to sleep at a respectable time.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


Just got back from the press conference for CAGES the movie. Quite a good one: great turnout, good food, tons of post-conference interviews. About an entire CF card's worth of photographs. And I'm probably going straight to Hell for introducing the term 'Rubba-oke'* to a trio of young girls.

Only problem: some of a questions posed were a tad moronic. Like: "How is this movie a 'Singaporean' movie?"

Excuse me? I don't know, lady, maybe it will not have the sappy, melodramatic, over-the-topness of Taiwanese movies; the triad-flavoured, melodramatic, over-the-topness of Hongkong movies; or the stoic, melodramatic, over-the-topness of Korean movies?

Why does it matter?

And why such a hang-up over 'Singaporean-ness'? Can we even define what it means to be Singaporean? Maybe the STB can help: what is Uniquely Singapore, pray tell?

* Rubba-oke. Like karaoke, but more rubbing.

Much Experimentation

I'm glad to say that wireless connection is available everywhere in this flat I call home. Even the loos. Though, as I'd mentioned in my comment to the missus's post, I probably shouldn't be having an Audio iChat session while on the throne.

And besides, the heat from the PowerBook will probably render my swimmers lethargic for a long while.


I should also probably be sleeping, but I've turned nocturnal this past week. So, I'll probably have red-rimmed, bloodshot eyes tomorrow at the press conference for CAGES the movie.

Quite excited about the whole thing, though I still don't know what I think about it. It's a great opportunity, there's no doubt about that, but it's also being involved in someone's labour of love that makes it better, I think.

Monday, July 26, 2004


Just got our wireless router and modem today and I'm already feeling inspired to write 1000-word essays on a daily basis.

There's nothing like being in the boondocks of technology after my PacNet broadband modems died on me for the umpteenth time, and then having to endure a 56k dial-up connection for the last year and a half, to make me gush about my new and improved connection.

Here and now: I'm where I ought to be. Might even find the time to upload photos onto Fotolog more regularly now. Just realised that I haven't been back there since before the trip to Vancouver and since that time, my Gold Camera membership had lapsed and I'm back on a-photo-a-day.

Oh well.


Collected the college class photos from the printers today. Fortunately I had the foresight to bring along luggage. And boy, did it come in handy.

Even then, it was quite a bit of a struggle. I'll probably not be able to check into a Valuair or Air Asia flight without having to pay extra for the additional weight.*

* A little something I found out yesterday at a gathering of friends from the Class of '96: apparently part of the no-frills service you get on the budget airlines is that your luggage allowance is only 15 kg. Which sucks, IMHO. That's pretty much just my equipment (oh scrub your filthy mind!): camera bodies (2 SLRs), two lenses, a flash, assorted wires and accessories for the camera= 8.9 kg; G4 15" PowerBook= 3 kg (or thereabouts); tripod= 2.3 kg; assorted wires and other fun stuff for the laptop and tripod and the bag itself= 1.5 kg; for a grand total of 15.7 kg.

Man, and I was so hoping to be able to fly for cheap.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Karma's a Bitch

Asked the missus already as it happened, but: What kind of person kicks a kitten as they walk by the poor thing?

And it wasn't as if the kitten was rubbing up against the leg or something. It was just walking by, minding its own business (because, you know, animals do have a rather keen Asshole Radar and they tend to avoid the larger blips).

So, I'm expecting the right boot of Karmic Justice to exact some payback upon you, the lady who got into the passenger seat of SCW 5996 L.

Big time.


Which was what I was going for yesterday when I shot at the college again.

What I got was the Moscow Circus.

Seriously. The original idea was for the best representatives from each of the PDPs to show up and I shoot them being garang/ gungho. The best two (max 4 representatives), that is. I got, in some cases, 16 in total, which kinda screwed up my scheduling. Which didn't leave me time to set up the lighting better. And having more than four people in a shoot at once, with three lights? That's a nightmare.

When I could, I did manage to shoot the set-ups I wanted, except, once again, the Boys' Rugby team. Dang. They could have had the best shot, seeing that the set-up had been in my head for the longest time.

Still quite happy with the results and the pics should look good blown up to 18 in x 18 in. I've been asked if there'll be prints for sale to the kids. You know, after what they've told me about my rates, I'm not even sure they could afford what these prints will go for, especially if it's going to be up on the walls of the college for posterity and where, obviously, the print run will be severely limited. Pricing is going to be tricky.

Two more classes ordered their photos yesterday and a CT woke me up this morning to arrange a time for me to pop by the college tomorrow so that she could place the orders for her class. They're all coming in dribs and drabs, but hey, not complaining. But tomorrow will be the last day I'll make visits down to the college to take their orders: they've had, what, three weeks to decide, one additional week to look for me and three separate days to submit their orders. The next time I go down, it'll be to give them their prints. By then, the price will have definitely gone up.

Oh yea. Verily, I tell you, I shall add the additional cost of the last two weeks unto thee.


Mutually Assured Detestation, that is.

Well, it's confirmed. The hatchet-faced woman who works at the drinks stall in the coffee shop of the next block doesn't like me. Or rather, doesn't like my business. She made it a point of ignoring me while taking orders from the three people who were sharing my table at lunch today and also loudly taking the orders from the two tables around me.

I think it killed her that I was completely unfazed by the whole thing. She kept throwing glances in my direction hoping that I'd blink first and order something from her.

Then, after my lunch, I got myself a cheaper drink from the Econ minimart next door. That killed her more, I think, when I walked past her taking a long, leisurely swig from my bottle of 100 Plus ("Dang! That's 70 cents I could have earned!"). At least I can count on the other person who works at the stall in the evenings to get me my drinks during dinner.

Stupid people.

Monday, July 19, 2004

In the News Today

This (actual article is below, link will become useless in three days -- thanks a lot, ST!) is why some countries will never achieve anything great. Nor achieve anything by way of international recognition.
JULY 18, 2004
Manila may complete Iraq pullout on Monday

MANILA - The Philippines said it would complete the withdrawal of its peacekeeping contingent from Iraq as early as Monday in an apparent effort to save a Filipino hostage threatened with beheading by Iraqi insurgents.

The kidnappers holding Filipino truck driver Angelo de la Cruz said earlier they would release him by the end of the month, when the full withdrawal of the Philippines' contingent of peacekeepers was expected.

However, Foreign Secretary Delia Albert said in a statement on Sunday that the remaining 22 peacekeepers from the original 51-strong deployment would make an 'exit call' on the new Polish commander at Camp Charlie in Iraq's Babil province on Monday.

'After the call, the remaining contingent will then proceed to Kuwait and from there return to Manila by commercial flight,' she said in the statement.

The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait is arranging their flight back to Manila and the time of their arrival would be announced as soon as the details are available, she said.

The Philippine decision to withdraw its troops earlier than their scheduled Aug 20 departure from Iraq has been criticised by Manila's allies, including the United States and Australia, which said it would encourage more terrorist acts and endanger other members of the US-led coalition in Iraq. -- AP

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Back To School

It's taken me almost a month, but I think I'm about ready to write about that last trip. There's nothing like a little collegiate pride from attending a UBC (go T-Birds!) event last night to help get me out of my funk.
Last evening, there was a whole roomful of frosh and exchange students from NUS (about thirty-ish in total, if you want to get into specifics). A far cry from my day when there would be, at most, seventeen Singaporean students per year (and seventeen being a bumper crop year -- it's usually only about seven every year). A roomful of young people whose lives are about to take a turn for the interesting. And it's all about experiences: of meeting people from all across the globe, of learning the joys and pitfalls of North American dorm life, of being in poetry classes taught by Quartermain, of snowboarding on Whistler-Blackcomb in the winter (can't ski -- bad knees) and mountain-biking down the same mountains in the summer, of white-water rafting trips available within two hours of the city, of five-second freefalls and wide open spaces and a slower pace of life. Things that have kept me going back to Vancouver on two occasions now (one of which I will write about in the next post).
All the major faculties were more or less represented last night: Kit was there for Applied Science (Engineering, for the uninitiated), Sam for Science, Karen for Commerce and me, for Recreation and Other Nocturnal Weekend Activities (otherwise known as Arts).
To even have a send-off? Unheard of twelve years ago. Twelve years ago, we were lucky if SIF organised a pre-departure seminar with stuffy registrar types sitting in defensible positions behind a power table on a panel.
Twelve years. There's an entire generation of Singaporeans who have gone through UBC after us.
Just as well the four alumni who turned up for last night's 'do were people I knew way back when and who had graduated at or about the same time -- my year being the median. There's nothing like being an alumnus from the mid- to late-90s to make us feel our age; we need that guy from the last big event who had graduated from UBC Medicine in 1957. But I suppose this was too low-key for the busy corporate people to show up and network.
I guess I wasn't as surprised as the rest of them when we were watching the university corporate video, having recently been back to UBC. But the changes since my time have been too many to count, and not all of them pleasing. For starters, the Main Library, long-time symbol of the university, isn't going to remain a library long. From what I gather, it's about to become a high- class residence/ housing project.
How wrong is that?
It's like turning the National Library over to a profit-making organisation so that the latter can further profit from it.
Oh. Wait...
One of the parents, well-dressed, well-spoken, from last night, while I was handing out the folders complimentary of the university, made the comment, when I asked him if he was a student, that he was "too old" to be one.
One of the nice things about North American (particularly Canadian ones) and Kiwi schools is that there genuinely is no age limit to education. I've had 50-, 60-year old classmates and they were definitely not at the stage where they're thinking they're too old for anything.
It's sad when we don't have the same mindset here. It's sadder that I know people in detested dead-end jobs and who say the same thing: I'm too old; I can't change now; I can't do anything else. If nothing else, I am in my third career since graduating from UBC, and I'm still not sure is this is the thing for me (actually, yeah, it is my thing). But, by golly, I'll be doing my best whatever it is that I do before I get bored and move on. I think that's a whole lot better than staying in one place and on one mind and suffering for it, and not doing anything about it but complain and long for better days/ ways.
There's got to be more to being educated than this.
It's, after all, still Tuum Est.
Bonus: Might have another photo gig lined up after last night. Who said networking wasn't possible for low-key events? Thank god I go for these things because really like my alma mater and not to network.
PS: Being at the event last night is also making me ponder a post-grad degree in one of those spiffy fine arts institutes in New York. Of course the missus is all for it. I'm keen, but also not too wild about living in New York in my old age; it seems more a city for the young and energetic.
PPS: After a break of close-to-two-months, we're restarting the weekly (if!) D&D game tonight. Should be fun if I'm not too rusty (and if we get critical mass). But it'll be good to bring up my Geek! quotient some; been doing too many cool things lately (one excuse for not blogging).
On other hand, things have gotten to the point in the other game where I'm ready to call it quits over player differences. I come to be entertained and to enjoy myself, not to be aggravated. And you know, you can put certain personality traits down for your character to have, but anyone with half a brain will know that you're only playing you. Not too much of a stretch there.
How playing someone who pays attention during the game, gets along with others, doesn't break things and doesn't cause the death of others? I'll even settle for 'absent'. That ought to be worth an award or two.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Bad Taste Barrier

And I think Channel i may have broken it.

They're showing Combat Missions again. In the afternoon, just before Major Dad. (Am I still dreaming or is this a bit much? What are they? Sponsored by the SAF this year?)

Anyway, the show isn't too bad, just not gripping enough when it was first shown. No, my gripe with it is that it features Scott Helvenston (from Team Delta, I think) who, rest his soul, was one of the American civilian contractors who had been murdered, mutilated and dragged through the streets of Iraq (can't remember the city) by butchers who think they're doing God's work.

Bad taste? I think so.


Man, this is the last time I take a nap with the channel selector on the cable box set at 16 (Discovery Travel & Adventure) because, I swear, some of it got into my head while I was dreaming.

OK, these are just vague impressions, but this was what happened: I was at my grandparents' provision shop (already gone -- it's made way for something else), my cousins were there and they were all in our favourite corner of the place. Then somehow or other, they morphed into the missus's friends and one of them started talking about her top ten place she'd like to visit in America. I remember distinctly it was a she and she was married. And she just wouldn't shut up. Even when she got up to her top two destination and mentioned someplace that I'd already been to and I was trying to be smug about it.

I turned to the wife and said, "Ha! We've been there!" but the same words just wouldn't come out after I'd turned to her friend and was trying to show her up.

So there I was, thinking why the hell couldn't I speak and what was that god-awful ringing next to my head. Then I woke up to Channel 16, Top Ten Places to Visit in America, and my mobile phone.


Wednesday, July 07, 2004

More Gripes (while I fret my writer's block)

1. So guess what woke me up at 7:32 am this morning?

Here're some clues:

a. Beep-beep beep-beep.

b. Where for new meeting?

c. What time?

d. Confirm?

And all I ever did was to agree to help.

2. The persons engaging in late-night tete-a-tetes on one of the stairway landings in my block who so obviously lack the consideration and basic courtesy to clear away the crap they had been eating and drinking in between deep-tongue action and groping.

3. That we should always use euphemisms to make any job look more attractive: Bus Captains (bus drivers), Conservancy Owner Operators (cleaners), Vice President (bank lackey)...

4. Cleaners, sorry, COOs who so lack self-esteem that when someone makes a grumpy sound because he had walked all the way across wet/ damp flooring towards the exit of Plaza Singapore (where the taxi stand is) only to find it locked that they assume that the sound was directed at them. Who then proceed to defend themselves (poorly!) against the evil throat-clearing bourgeoisie man who had just oppressed them.

5. Bank telemarketers who find it mystifying that someone who has three credit cards in his name would not want to take advantage of the low low interest rates his bank is offering because, gasp, he has been a really good boy when it comes to paying his bills.

6. Writer's block!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Things to Gripe About (since the last post)

1. Receiving at least one SMS every day for the whole of last week about a meeting I’m to attend tomorrow. From the same person. About the same thing: where and when to meet.

Excuse me, but I’m the one on flexi-time. Give me a time. Tell me the place. End of discussion. I didn’t think there was a need to be confirming every other little decision about a meeting that will probably last less than one hour (I should be so lucky). Or telling me why the previous time and meeting place ‘simply would not do’. I think it was this need to explain everything that made meetings in my old school last longer than they ought.

Sorry, not interested. Where and when?

That's all I need.

2. Receiving a phone call from one of the parental units about a birthday dinner I’m apparently paying for next weekend, as well as forking over some spending money for the brother who’s leaving for wintry Australia in two weeks for university. I’m irritated because this is money that hasn’t come in and that people are already spending on my behalf. Must be what being a parent is like.

3. A missus who thinks it’s really, really nice of her to give me lots of choices. Or none at all. Or lots of choices again. For my view on such matters, see point number 1.

4. Receiving my VISA bill today and discovering that the last trip wasn’t as ‘budget’ as I’d expected. After already paying for the airfare, travel insurance and currency exchange, I’m suddenly faced with a four-figure VISA bill that brings my expenditure on the trip not just $700 over the original budget as the missus had calculated, but something in the region of $2000 over. So either something’s wrong with her calculations, or I’d been royally gypped somewhere.

5. Still not being able to put down on paper the thoughts from the same trip. They’re still running amuck in my braincase and rounding them up, thus far, has been a monumental task better performed without the temptation of two seasons of The West Wing on DVD.

All I can say, for now, is: Nice photos. Great memories. But waaay too expensive (yeah, still harping on that – the shock’s settling in, but it’ll be a while before I quit it).

6. Being in cabs all of the last week, in which not a single driver not fail to irritate the hell out of me either in the way they drove or their attitudes. Fortunately I could still rely in my teacher tone to belittle them. Assuming, of course, they realise what I was doing.

7. Watching Spiderman 2 in which Singaporeans demonstrated their inability to deal with disturbing issues/ images or strong emotions. How? They laugh. We laugh. The weak, mocking, inappropriate-at-that-moment laughter of the ignorant and out-of-touch.

“Heh, heh, heh. I don’t know why there’s a tightness in my chest. Or what’s going on in my head. But, heh, heh, heh, I need to emit some noise.”

I’m not even going to start with the idiots who leave their phones on during a movie, especially those whose phones can light up the whole goddamned auditorium with strobes and flashing lights.

8. When I’m finally ready to move on to the two expansions of Neverwinter Nights, I find out that the first expansion pack, Shadows of Undrentide is now marketed together with the original game in a rip-off called Neverwinter Gold. So now, I have to buy the expansion pack along with a game I already own. What a bloody waste of money.

O, for a more litigious bone in my body.

And there’s still the little problem of coming up with a project for next year’s exhibition. I still don’t have a travelling companion for Oregon – assuming I’m still doing the whole shooting the coast thing. And Cuba’s beginning to look prohibitively expensive, especially with that VISA bill still haunting me.

I need another holiday. A CHEAPER one.

Friday, July 02, 2004


The best game ever.

Not Greece-Czech Republic Euro 2004 game, though that one won me or the missus the pool, depending on how you want to look at it. I said the Greeks would win 1-0, but we weren’t betting on silver or golden goals. So it was supposed to be Greeks, at 1-0, in 90 minutes. The wife was the executor of the pool, which kinda means that if no one won, she would.

Or we could roll-over the pool to the next game.

But I digress.

So, let’s try that again:


The best game ever.

The Yankees over the Red Sox 5-4 in 13 innings on a ground-rule double by Flaherty, scoring Miguel Cairo from second to complete the sweep of the Auld Enemy. That’s 4-and-a-half hours of nail-biting stuff and heroics from all the players. Especially Jeter who had to leave the game in the middle of the 12th because he sacrificed his body to get the third Red Sox out. At top speed, he caught the pop up and then slammed into the box seats. Last anyone in the television audience saw of him, he was bleeding from his chin and under his right eye and his right cheek was beginning to puff up.

Jeez. And it’s not even the World Series.

That’s heroics for you.

Updated at 16:06 pm:

Wasn't as bad as a broken cheek, as I had feared, but Jeter will be fine.

Again, can I say "heroics"?