terse & at large

GRRRRR. Arrrgh. And sometimes a travel log.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

TAR Update Ver 7.3 (or "Who throws a spear like a sissy-boy?")

"And get some deodorant; we're running low!"

"Go back home, give mom a great big hug, etc, etc..."

How do you not like the brothers? Which means, all else being equal (and following in the tradition of me liking the teams that don't win in the end - apart from Rob and Brennan... a long, long time ago), they won't be winning the race.


Speaking of the brothers, can I crucify Rob now? How does one just drive by and not stop when there's been an accident. At least check on the guys, for cryin' out loud. But no, "There was no way we were stopping. It’s a competition."

And the brothers didn't even want people to stop and stay too long...

The fucking excuses people will use to conceal their own shortcomings. "Who's calling who a 'great con artist' now?"

You were nice?

And Ray and Deana? I guess Karma came for you.

Jet Setting

If today's any indication of what NAB goes through in his life now, then I don't envy him at all. Perhaps. His destinations may be a little more exotic than mine was but it wasn't the scenery that was killing me, was it?

Since 0715 hours today, meaning having to be at the airport by 0615 hours, I've been on 4 flights, totalling about 7 hours being in the air. Then there's the waiting in the transit lounges for the transfers, which added up to another 5 hours (make that 6, we just learnt that our flight has been delayed). That's 15 hours (16) that had nothing to do with what I had to do today.

That, incidentally, took, oh, about 2 hours.

And today would be the first time I've been asked to cough up 'kopi money'. Not from the usual tout/ labourer-type in the street, but from the immigration officer. At the airport!

At first I wasn't sure if I heard him right. He'd said it in Hokkien ("吃咖啡") and very softly. When I wasn't getting it, his partner in crime (literally) said it a little louder and the first dude passed me back my folded customs declaration form and said, "Can put it in here..."

Uh, right.

Fortunately I went to the bank before I left for the airport. Unfortunately it meant that 'kopi money' was going to be S$10. Apparently that's a lot. Enough kopi for the entire row of immigration officers I guess. Note to self: always good to change the local currency even though you don't envision yourself spending any money at all the whole day.

Someone got 50,000 rupiah richer today.

On the other hand, Surabaya was beautiful. Almost worth the 50k to come back and stay a little longer.

Could be worse. I could have been 5 days to a week away in Nias.

Perhaps not.


Other things I learnt today:

1. At 0551 hours in the morning, the MRT station is open, but trains go only one direction - towards Boon Lay. And the first train for the Airport doesn't come until 0612 hours. Not good.

2. At 0551 hours in the morning, cabs need to be waved at so that they'd stop. Even when you're in visible clothing and at a cab stand. 3 empty cabs (though 2 of them had the 'Busy' sign up; the other made a poor attempt at pretending not to see me waving frantically, swerving out of the leftmost lane to coast by in the next... doo-dee-doo) go by before someone takes pity on me.

3. There's someone who speaks Mandarin worse than some people I know.

4. Even though someone spoke really bad Mandarin, a Shanghainese woman understood her enough to know that the stopover in Singapore was only for 20 minutes.

5. That Bintang beer on the plane, though advertised to be 5% alcohol, tastes like the kind you get from the NCO's mess during NS days.


And now, to hit the sack.

And for those who were unsure: yes, there will be fraggin' this Saturday.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Experiments in Infrared Part 3

Experiments in Infrared #15
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Last set of the series.

I know I promised a review, but things have happened and I need to sleep early tonight. Will do the review at a later date when I return.

Experiments in Infrared #16
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Experiments in Infrared #17
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Experiments in Infrared #18
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Experiments in Infrared #19
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Experiments in Infrared #20
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Experiments in Infrared #21
Originally uploaded by Terz.


Another one.

You know...

... you've been blogging too much when: you wake up in the middle of the night, disoriented, and one part of your mind wonders if you should snuggle up to the missus, and then the other tells you 1) you can't, because 2) there's a weblink that tells you not to and 3) Blogger is being slow, besides.

Then you just have to get out of bed anyway to blog about it.

Update (0425 hours):

Hmm, and Blogger is being slow about this.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Rain. Good.

Rain. Good.
Originally uploaded by Terz.

We now interrupt the series on faux-IR images to bring you the usual bout of snarkiness:

There comes a time in a person's life when he has to be man (or woman) enough to admit that he is wrong. This is one of those times, and I'm willing to admit that I have been erroneous in my insinuations. As it turns out, cabs do not hide just around the corner to wait for passengers to call the advance booking line.

Fact is, they hide along Republic Boulevard, underneath the flyover that is the Rochor Road off-ramp, to wait for irate passengers to call. My thanks to the three cabbies in their blue vehicles who appraised me of this.


Still on cabbies, this was said to me this afternoon while he was driving me to Beach Road, via Geylang:

"That one China girl? 那个是中国女孩子?"

First of all, you didn't need to repeat the question in Mandarin - I'm perfectly capable of understanding English. Secondly, you know, I don't really know, unless you're asking me to base my answer on what I think the 'typical' China girl looks like. And I don't really care.

And if you are referring to the one I think you are referring to, um, I hate to break this to you, but she's so not a girl. Or perhaps she is, underneath the cellulite on those thunder thighs.


This goes out to the troglodytes who infest Singapore.

More Gore
Originally uploaded by Terz.

You want more gore? Go to a fucking abbatoir. This, in the guestbook for Glimpses of Light.


Love is choking on the chocolate powder sprinkled liberally on the Tiramisu you're sharing with your wife the same time she does.

Happy birthday!


Originally uploaded by Terz.

So. What happens when there's a fire and there's no one peeing?

Experiments in Infrared Part 2

Experiments in Infrared #8
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Second part...

Just one more to go. With a review on using Photoshop to convert images to IR.

Experiments in Infrared #9
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Experiments in Infrared #10
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Experiments in Infrared #11
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Experiments in Infrared #12
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Experiments in Infrared #13
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Hmm, obviously it doesn't work for #12 and #13.

Experiments in Infrared #14
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Experiments in Infrared Part 1

Experiments in Infrared #1
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Had a bit of alone time today, for the first time in weeks, and what did I do? Played with Photoshop some more, that's what...

These were the pictures from last year's vacation in Vancouver, Oregon and Seattle that didn't quite make it as a colour/ [normal] black-and-white series.

Experiments in Infrared #2
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Experiments in Infrared #3
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Experiments in Infrared #4
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Experiments in Infrared #5
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Experiments in Infrared #6
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Experiments in Infrared #7
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Second set of 7 to follow...

Friday, March 25, 2005


At the Show
Another Thursday, another day at the show, waiting for people who might want a guided tour of the place who do not come.

Young couples? Still groping.

Morons? Still touching the prints.

And some idiot's already left a mark the rough shape and size of his fist on one of the walls near the entrance.

Singapore: arts and cultural hub? I think not.

Was sitting at Bakerzin at The Atrium waiting for Wes to show up when I overheard a conversation that took me back to secondary school days when we geeks would challenge ourselves to conduct a conversation alternating the words/ phrases in English and Mandarin, without pausing too long in between.

Little did we realise that now, it's as natural as pissing.

Had quite an interesting talk with Wes. Kinda confirms what I've been thinking of doing over the past month. Now if I can only get the website revamped and up and running ASAP.

And now I hear that the show might be extended...

Of the Service Industry Known as Daylight/Midnight Surcharge Robbery
The cab driver took the scenic route to Plaza Singapura today. Instead of looping around and taking Changi Road, before turning right to get to the PIE on-ramp at Eunos, he chose to go via the Bedok North on-ramp, travelling in the opposite direction for the first five minutes, then turning back and making up the same distance travelled. The damage? $1.20 extra to my fare.

The other thing, dude was travelling at 60 km/h even when the speed limit on the roads were 90, 80 or 70 km/h.

I swear, cabbies have this psychic thing going for them: they'll not know your destination if you also don't know it; and they'll drive "like they're driving Miss Daisy" if you happen to be in a hurry.

Of Bullies and Other Assholes
I think there's something seriously wrong when a security guard threatens a schoolkid with, "Do you want me to punch you?"

And for what? Standing just outside the exhibition space and asking passers-by if they would like to step in for a look?

"You're not allowed to do charity here."

If I had my camera with me, dude. If I had my camera.

This is the same security guard who's not around when asshole skateboarders are using the Atrium as their personal skate park, even when there are signs telling them they're not allowed to.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

TAR Update Ver 7.2

All right, that's it. I'm saying this now: I will stop watching TAR, much as it pains me, if Rob and Amber wins.


"Menage a' trois?"

Sorry, granny, but that's putting me in a very bad visual place right now.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Rated R(A) - Rant (Artistic)

YM has already said something about it here, but I thought I'd add my two cents' worth (before GST) to the 'discussion':

Yes, it came as a shock when I spotted Moron #1 touching one of my prints and then remarked to his girlfriend, "Huh-uh-uh, this guy is smoking..."

Number 1, don't FUCKING touch my print, you retard.

Number 2, why the fuck are you looking at that detail? Is that the only fucking thing you're interested in? You want to see people smoking in the detail? Go to the 7-11 and look at the cigarette boxes behind the counter - you can't touch them though.

Number 3, why are you there in the first place? If you're coming to a show about tsunami relief efforts and you're looking at the prints for minor, unimportant details, you're obviously in the wrong place. While I'm grateful that a detail such as a cigarette in the mouth of someone's silhouette is clear (good camera), you're obviously someone who zooms in on the wrong details; heck, you could be a school administrator. There's a career for you.


Later on, when I spotted Morons #2 and #3 doing the same to Ernest's prints and captions (captions? Yes! Captions!), it sent another shiver down the already-indignant spine. What the hell are you looking for? Bubbles between the print and the mounting board? Someone's underwear showing?


I'll say this again: it's a show about tsunami relief efforts. Get. The. Big. Picture. These prints mean a fucking hell of a lot to all of us: the photographers who shot them, the simpledigital guys who mounted them and then put them up on the wall (USING plastic gloves over their hands), in the middle of the night sometimes; the subjects who went through hell because of the disaster; and the people who actually appreciate them.

So, if you're going there to look for small details and at 'pretty' pictures, I'd suggest you fuck off and find something else to occupy your tiny little minds.

I wonder if these fuckwits would touch the prints if we'd put up the price of each of them up. And we'll put the sign up too: "You touch it, you bought it, fucker."


Now to get back to sleep...

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Terz van Winkle

Thanks to everyone who messaged me saying that they saw my interview for the Glimpses of Light show on the news tonight. But if you don't mind, I'll just go sleep now for the next two months.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Chillren Again

Overhead issuing from the mouth of a snot-nosed 9-year old while at Bras Basah Complex:

"这里没有电梯。 我好累.”

I hope his parents heard what I said to YW in response:



... not give the entire plot of the movie away.

Jean Danker,
Movie Madness,
c/o Class 95 FM

The point of a movie review is to tell people whether you liked the movie or not, what worked for you and what didn't and how effective it was. Not to tell people the plot of the movie. If it had been someone in the movie theatre with me and telling the story, I'd smack him or her.

'Swing Girls' has been ruined for me. Thank you very much.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

Things to do on a Tuesday night...

Atrium Show Setup #1
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Atrium Show Setup #2
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Atrium Show Setup #3
Originally uploaded by Terz.

It took six hours and we left around midnight.

Not complete yet though... we're on the home stretch. It'll be good to get a nice, long break (and maybe go on a beach vacation) after this.

People Watching

I was sitting at the Piazza by Pabulum at The Atrium with KC this morning, working on the captions for the show. It's interesting the people-watching opportunities that arose from being at our vantage point:

The two men in the über-swanky business shirts and bad ties (bankers, I think) who walked through the exhibition space, gesturing at it like it's some sort of annoyance, an obstacle between them and their high-paying jobs/power meetings. There's just something über-soulless about them too, the way they glanced askew at the images of death, destruction and loss.

Young couples using the space to steal a grope in public. Yes, we saw you. It does give 'Glimpses of Light' a whole new meaning... 照光 (or is that 走光?) and all.

Young males trying to impress their girlfriends with their own interpretations of the images. In front of the photographer who shot them. Amusing more than anything, really. I like how the interpretations were mostly wrong: "Yah, here, the photographer is trying to say how desolate the landscape is, so is their [sic] hearts." Er, no. Not really.

There is an equal number of people who would stop, and look at the images, taking time out of their lunch hour, to fully appreciate them, to the other people who don't give the exhibition space a second glance. One wonders if they even noticed its presence. There were tourists who were upset that they would miss the opening of the show on Saturday, and then there were the local Yuppies who can't wait for the exhibition to be over so they don't have to take a detour around the courtyard.

I think of the lawyer of Abi's blog and I see the same soulless blasé attitude these people have. It's yesterday's news, innit? Let's talk money again. Let's plan for our rosy futures where our children think of becoming doctors, not social workers or teachers, and go to expensive schools for their reputation and posh-factor. Death and destruction is so passé.

I am reminded of the chance encounter I had with an ex-girlfriend at a taxi stand during the period I was printing for the show (it's okay, the missus knows about it). We talked briefly. And as cordially as ex-couples can after a long period of not seeing the other person - that is, all awkward and weird. When she asked what I had been doing, I told her of my trip to Aceh.

* blank stare *

resulting in...

* alarm bells ringing in my head *


Uh, yes. Aceh.

Aceh... I'm sorry, it's not familiar...

Aceh, one of the worst-hit areas of the tsunami disaster? Where upwards of 160 000 people are confirmed dead and another 120 000 are still missing, and presumed dead? Where, for weeks after the disaster, bodies are still being turned up? And there are 9 000 new orphans in the DPCs?


Well, come for the show anyway...

I say: there's nothing like this to close a chapter of one's life, however belatedly.

TAR Update Ver 7.1

Who the hell are you, 'Boston' Rob, and what are you doing to my beloved reality TV series?

(Also, is it coincidence that I stopped watching Survivor halfway into the strangeness that was Survivor All-Stars?)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Little India

Little India
Originally uploaded by Terz.

A bit bored when I was babysitting aforementioned premier-school-schoolgirls.

Glimpses of Light

glimpses of light
Originally uploaded by Terz.

It's finally here. After two months of working on my images and managing the prints.

Venue: The Atrium @ Orchard
Date: 19 March 2005
Time: 3 pm

Featuring the works of Ernest Goh, Darren Soh, Ming and myself.

Please come.


After about a fortnight of not writing, I'm back. A few updates:

Last week, my brother was pelted with eggs while standing at a pedestrian crossing somewhere in the vicinity of the University of Queensland. The yobs, the fucking cowards, didn't bother to stop their speeding car to appreciate what they had done, and the brother didn't have time to pick up a large rock to smash a windscreen, or even to note down their license plate number.

It's been quietly simmering for a week now, so I hope the next person who tells me what an absolutely lovely place Australia is to visit and perhaps to migrate, will forgive me if I spit on him or her.


Things I learnt while waiting 40 minutes for a cab today:

1. I really detest the morons who call up a taxi using the advanced booking service, and then STAY in the queue, waiting for whichever comes first.

2. That, for all their whingeing about poor working conditions and the high cost of maintenance, cabbies really ought to be grateful that it's a fucking seller's market out there. I mean, which other country has cabbies who will stop only for passengers who might be going their way? And if we can't get a cab whenever we want, we can always call for the cab waiting just round the corner?


3. That, when impatient, aunties will talk to anyone standing next to them:




Really, lady, maybe you should get out more. It's the morning peak hour. Did you expect to get cabs, just like that?

4. That it is generally not a good idea to announce loudly that "perhaps we should walk a little further up and catch a cab from there" when people in front of you in the queue have been waiting for more than half an hour.

5. That it can be quite interesting to have a cabbie tell me about the suicidal tendencies of fish all the way to my destination.


Jonathan, the Chief Security Officer, at the Tekka Mall should take a chill pill too. He wins the award for the application of rules of the letter of law without considering the reason for them. The dude came over twice to tell the students I was with that they cannot sit on the ground, not because they're blocking the thoroughfare of the people - or lack thereof - walking through the mall; or because they're blocking the entrances to the [closed] shops of paying tenants, but because, and simply because, it's our rules. And mind you, these aren't students from schools with a reputation of requiring police escorts each time they're out in public, but (to quote some dumb-ass parents) rather girls from a premier all-girls' school located at the Anderson Road and Steven Road intersection.

So what did the girls do instead?

They stood around blocking the thoroughfare of the people - or lack thereof - walking through the mall and the entrances to the [closed] shops of paying tenants.


That it is hardly an incentive when one receives an email with a godhumongous attachment from the inappropriately-named Incentives Management Branch of a government agency asking for one's bank account details for a GIRO payment which, strangely enough, requires a photocopy of the NRIC to be attached to the form they sent.

I asked for terms cash or cheque. Not this GIRO nonsense. Why complicate things? And for fuck's sake! Why do we need the fucking photocopy of our NRIC for EVERY. FUCKING. APPLICATION. IN. THIS. COUNTRY?

Who's the payment for if not for me? Oh yeah, hell, I've earned $n, let's just give a random bank account number so the owner of the account can benefit from my sweat.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005


On 27 January 2005, Sham and Tahar receive an SMS from Pak Ali, asking about our well-being. He tells them that the school had reopened for lessons that day. Enrolment is good, 300 students in all, and all but one of the teachers have returned to teach.

He ends the message: Do not forget us.

The school has since been adopted by Mercy Relief and a MOU has been signed with UNICEF that Mercy Relief would be responsible for the rebuilding and restoration of the Sekolah Muhammadiyah and the two orphanages in the neighbourhood.

Eddie has since gone and come back from the school. Ming is due to leave soon (11 March).

I have asked to return as well.

We will get to finish what we started after all.

Meulaboh, Part 16


Day 5

Meulaboh, Day 4 #14
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Meulaboh, Day 4 #15
Originally uploaded by Terz.

We sail away from Meulaboh.

There is a special sail-off ceremony, and the whole SAF contingent (Army, Navy and Air Force) and volunteers are lined up on flight decks of the RSS Endurance and the RSS Endeavour to bid Meulaboh farewell. A minute's silence was observed and a wreath each was dropped into the calm waters by the captains of both vessels.

I do not attend the ceremony, but at the very moment when the pipes sounded for silence, the radio, left on in the briefing room, plays "Angel" by Sarah MacLachlan.

Meulaboh, Day 4 #16
Originally uploaded by Terz.

In the solitude of the briefing room, I cry at last.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Meulaboh, Part 15


Day 4, Baker
At 1430 hours, the word comes through our SAF escorts' signal set that we've got to pack up and be ready to leave once the vehicle comes round our neighbourhood. The entire team protest, in one voice. It was a beautiful moment of one-minded spontaneity, but we do not get rewarded for it. It seems to me leaving now reinforces in many of us the whole notion that our stay in Meulaboh has been nothing more than a show: "Oh look, Singaporeans have hearts. They've come to help the unfortunate people of Indonesia." And five days later: "Right, there's enough coverage, let's go!"

We pack up reluctantly, then walk around the school for one last look. I take a last photograph (or so I thought) of the school; the before/ after difference is amazing.

It is a long process of saying goodbye to Pak Ali, Pak Aji and the Muhammadiyah volunteers. Email addresses are exchanged, and snail mail addresses as well, for me to send some of the photographs to Budi and his people.

When the vehicles arrive, the other NGOs ask for a tour of the school. There is no shortage of envy. We bring them around and take them down Mercy Road and Relief Avenue to show them the classrooms and the furniture we'd repaired. We learn later that the principals of the other schools in Meulaboh had refused the help of the other NGOs.

When it is time to leave, there was a second round of goodbyes for the Mercy Relief team. There were hugs, handshakes and much bowing. In full view of the other volunteers looking on from their vehicles.

Meulaboh, Day 4 #10
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Meulaboh, Day 4 #11
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Almost immediately, it becomes apparent to us how utterly stupid it was that we were told to pack up this early. Apparently there isn't enough transportation for all of us and we are made to wait a while longer. It's another 40 minutes before we load up. At the shore, there is another fuck-up. The FCU deployed to bring us back to the Endeavour forgets to bring our PFDs (personal flotation devices) and it has to return to the LST. It's another hour before we return to the ship. That's 2 and a half hours of our time that we'll never get back. 2 and a half hours of more that could have been done.

The only thing we're proud of is the help we've given to Pak Ali and the neighbourhood. We are not happy about leaving the work here unfinished. Everything feels incomplete. When we were saying goodbye the second time, Pak Ali had tried to give us money out of his own savings for our efforts. It was an uncomfortable few moments before it is decided that he should give the money to the three labourers* instead.

* The labourers had been at the school since the tsunamis hit, working to clear the larger pieces of debris from the school and around the neighbourhood. They are not locals, but have been working in Meulaboh to support their families. They work for Pak Ali so they can earn enough to go home (they'd lost everything they'd earned in tsunamis) and find out if their families survived.

A group photograph is taken at the disembarkation point amid a great deal of ass-kissing. I do not even bother to pass either of my cameras to the SAF servicemen tasked with the job of taking the photos. It felt wrong, like the group photographs taken on package tours.

My last contact with the people of Meulaboh is someone we met on the beach, a woman named Rosita. She tells us how when the wave struck, she had been carrying her younger daughter; how she had been separated from the child by the force of the waves and was washed about 2 km inland; how she had lost her husband and both daughters, aged 4 and 1, in the tragedy; how she had sustained internal injuries that are still causing her pain and how she has been shitting sand for the past three weeks; how she has not been receiving all the humanitarian aid that's been going around because she has been staying with her brother's family and had not known about the DPCs or any of the international aid centres.

Meulaboh, Day 4 #12
Originally uploaded by Terz.

It's too much for us to take and some walk away. We get some people from the PMI to help her and they make arrangements for her to report to one of the DPCs the next day.

The last I saw of her, she was walking past the giant piles of debris towards the rest of the town.

Meulaboh, Day 4 #13
Originally uploaded by Terz.

(To be continued)