Friday, May 30, 2008

What the Future Entails

As I stand at the bridge waiting to cross over into Singapore's two year ceremony of manhood, many things start racing through my mind. That and perhaps Magical Midnight, where your mind starts going seriously cranky.

Everyone who has learnt about my imminent conscription has inquired in some form or another whether I think I'm ready for it or not. And to all who have asked I have given the same answer - that I am more worried about how my present commitments will fare without me than what they might possibly do to me in Tekong. And yet in my solitude I wonder, can I really take all their nonsense? I've long since come to terms with myself that I am a highly emotion-controlled person. If I want to laugh, few can stop me; if I want to cry, I can hardly stop myself. I believe I am prepared for it, but it honestly doesn't take much to corner me and make me lash out before I can restrain myself. I'm not an animal. Just an emo kid. Haha.

I was just thinking about how my friend who flew to the States to study at Buffalo for one semester was so blessed to be able to travel back in the comfort of SIA Business Class. It wasn't a lucky upgrade or anything - his dad could afford to pay for it. And I thought to myself, as I have so many times in the past, "I want to be able to provide effortlessly for my kids like that." But how much does it take to even be capable of drawing such money? Nothing that a job under someone else can provide, probably. How long will it take to bring myself above that level? No idea. How far up can I go? No idea. Will I even have kids to care for and nurture for?

No idea.

Girlfriend? Fiance? Marriage? Wife?

No idea.

Even if I never reach those levels, will I at least be able to see that my parents' every need is swiftly taken care of? Will they live happily and contently till they pass on?

It is a curious sensation when you realize the weight of the world before you, a sensation my kids will possibly never experience, if the above questions are given a "Yes to All". A wondrous mix of feelings rising up in your chest, bubbling and simmering. The first sensation among it all that you would recognize is fear. Fear for your safety, fear for your survival, fear for your happiness. And if you wait on it, you recognize that overshadowed bit of excitement, of anticipation, of curiosity, even of mild amusement.

And perhaps, for those with a God or Supreme Being to look up to, if you let that all vent itself away, if you patiently search hard enough and wait long enough, perhaps you will find that lightly but distinctly glowing nugget of hope, hope and assurance, that everything is going to be ok, that Someone has His hand over you always, that stones rocks and pillars will be flicked shifted and torn out of your way, just so that you will be able to walk straight through the path you have always wanted to walk and will always want to walk. For your God, it may be the reward for your staunch devotion to Him or Her. For my God, it is only because He loves me so very much, so specially, so uniquely, and that if only I seek first His kingdom, all these things shall be added to me.

The secret to a free and fulfilled life may well reside in this nugget that is ours to use to our advantage. All those other boiling feelings will slowly eat away at it, and when finally not a single shred of hope is left, you end your meaningless life by committing suicide, or sink yourself into superficially entertaining activities to hoodwink yourself into being happy. Or you could let those feelings leave as swiftly as they come, and blow, fan and nurture that little seed of hope and assurance to expand and fill your heart, leaving no room for anxiety or worry to hurt you.

It's all about choice then, isn't it?


PS - If this gets to Ping top 10, all your hooha about deep posts not being sufficiently ponged has just been utterly mooted. Hahaha, ich bin fucker.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Red Man Green Man

Interesting experience on the cab ride back. I was accessing Twitter Mobile, at the back seat with my leg crossed, when the cab driver suddenly went 'WHOA' and braked rather hard. I looked up to see the Celica in front of us doing the same, forcing my cab driver to braked even harder a second time. Both cars honked at the guilty cab right at the front.

At first the cabbie went into usual Singaporean spiel... 'What the hell is he doing, suddenly stop like that, middle lane somemore... nanananananana~'. I offered suggestions probably the passenger gave last-minute directions leading the cab driver to a slight panic, or that another vehicle turned out of... turn and cut across its path, both of which my cabbie denied. Finally he offered that the cabbie mistook the green light for a red.

I was rather incredulous and expressed my sentiments, saying 'I should think the green and red is distinguishable enough'. And the cab driver said, 'No, he mistook the red man for a red stop light. Nowadays the man very big, very bright.'

Valid point. Which naturally leads to the question, are the new LED lights that are meant to make traffic lights clearer for drivers and pedestrians to see confusing them instead? Cabbie do drive long shifts and the mental and visual fatigue is more than understandable. It's a good thing that the Celica and my cabbie was paying attention to the road. The mistake, if it was even so, would just as easily have ended up in a horrific pile-up.

As a driver, have you ever been confused by the pedestrian lights? Do you think what the cabbie says holds truth? And what can the LTA do to improve the situation?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Speed Racer - SFX Whore's Die-Die-Must-Watch

When Jerrick called me along to watch Speed Racer with Sham, I went knowing nothing of it except that it used to be some uber popular TV series. Because of our borderline morbid need of movie munchies, we were 5min late for showtime, which I guess is 1-2min movie time. Nothing important missed.

Speed Racer puts you in a futuristic world, where a loudly colored panther-sleek car sits in front of just about any house. Think of it as Telladega Nights set in the future, where race tracks can make even the biggest rollercoaster buffs blanch and the greatest park ride engineers gape. And then think of that combined with Step Up 2, where our hero takes to underground racing, complete with dirty tricks and crazy car mods, to curb the profit making plans of an underhanded businessman. The combination provides for teeth gritting action and nerve wracking stunts.

I heard that many people detest Speed Racer and advise other people not to watch it. The only reason I can think of for that is the same reason why I love it to bits - the movie is quite basically a green screen orgy. I'd say 85-90% of the film was shot in front of a green screen, and I guess people interpret that as convenient film making. Just film, remove, paste fancy background. To me, and you can call me biased because I'm a helpless sucker for crazy ass effects, I think Speed Racer can get away with that, given its sci-fi/fantasy/cartoon-y nature. If you were to shoot like Money No Enough in front of a green screen, that would be a wtf. But Speed Racer probably won't be Speed Racer without CGI on crack. And sometimes it even seems that they deliberately leave it a little untouched, so that its an obvious green screen scene, to remind you of its fantastical nature.

Alot of the movie's excellence was explained when I finally realised during the credits that the Wachowski brothers directed it. It explains the sequencing style of the film (flashback galore), its beautiful pacing, and pin sharp cinematography. I also think that the burning bright colors of Speed Racer are the Wachowski brothers' way of making it up to themselves and their fans because they just couldn't be as brilliant in the darker worlds of The Matrix and V for Vendetta.

You should be warned though not to expect too much out of the plot. The plot in Speed Racer is kind of a secondary thing, just there to lend support to the film, and prevent it from being a total testosterone/geek flick. So go watch it to be dazzled by the kickass races, ingenious stunts, and countless "How the mother did they do that?!" moments, not for a touching story of love romance and sacrifice.

I Live Opposite Fong Seng Now roflcopter lolz

I'm enamored with my new room. Totally enamored.

The last time I shifted house was a good 13 and a half years ago, at the end of 1994, settling down just in time to start my primary school life in Tampines. The only memory I have of shifting was when we arrived at our then shiny-new apartment in Tampines, still huge by HDB standards (executive flat... in other words 5.5 room flat.) There were few things to be shifted over - the most obvious moved item was the ancient fridge. Most of the Tampines apartment's furnishing had been bought, not brought. And since we were kids barely discerning of our surroundings, our parents let us play with our construction toy track set in the extended hall area. You remember those - the one where it was a large track, with stations all round, and this little cart would take on different top bodies at different locations of the track to assume a variety of roles - crane, delivery truck, tractor, etc. We'd just set it up, flick the cart's switch on, set it on the track, and gaze at it for an hour or two.

What my parents might or might not have realized, not really interested to find out, was that staying at such a huge place for over a decade would mean filling such a huge place to the brim with items - things we loved, things we kept just in case, things we couldn't bear to throw, things we couldn't be bothered to throw. And when it was finally time to move, to an inevitably smaller apartment (it's futureproofing, not a housing upgrade), it created many days of nagging and downright bad moods. When crunch time came, I went into such a mode of remorseless disposal that I never thought I was capable of. Except for a couple of exceptionally sentimental items, like the 2004 Victoria School yearbook (grad year), items more than one year old were thrown without much thought. I had to make around 4 trips to the disposal chute for the waste I dug out of my wall cupboards alone. I was sorely wrong when I thought I could fit everything I wanted nicely into a single box. Turned out to be two boxes of belongings, another box and a bag full of clothes. And I arrived at my new condominium, Varsity Park, smack opposite NUS Arts (as well as Fong Seng hohoho) to find the various bags and boxes of items that my father had brought in earlier.

Now my room was really filled.

All in all it took about 4 hours to unpack everything, including masterfully sashimi-slicing through ten layers of shrink wrap to get to my table, desktop computer, and speaker system.

Oh my God speaking of speaker system. Being the kind of idiot needy for music to keep me company (yes I'm lonely fock off.), my 2.1 Creative speaker system was the first appliance to be powered. After bickering hard with my mother and coming to a compromise, I finally got to put my subwoofer on the floor where it belonged. Well, near the floor - a stool was the compromise. My mother did not want any unsweepable/unmoppable areas. Previously, it sat at the edge of my table. Result? I have to turn the bass to 8 (max level 10) for decent bass, only to walk out of the room and hear the subwoofer thumping my house down. Here on the floor, level 6 bass depending on the music can get uncomfortable. NTT would know how much bass I need to make me uncomfortable. :)

If you want to hear the difference it makes, you're welcome into my room, by appointment only, and I'll play Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture for you. The one with cannon blasts at the end. I kid you not, the bass shakes my bed.

Having a clean table to start over with also gave me a valuable opportunity to position things from scratch, and this time, I gave optimal priority to placing my speakers far enough apart so that I can have a decent stereo effect to speak of. The moment I set my computer up, I had a bright idea of rewatching Advent Children, what with the newfound effectiveness of my speaker system. So I duly lowered my Roman blinds, finetuned Windows Media Player's TruBass and WOW effects, cranked the volume up, and hit play.

It was so loud it hurt, but Ave Maria it hurt so good.

In a somewhat impulse buy, except without buyers' remorse (unless you count remorse over losing like 16k), my family spent quite a sum on Simmons beds. The bed with the level of firmness I liked best had only Queen size, and I made my parents buy that by some magic of pouting and a huge show of exasperation. But I'm really really thankful and grateful that they bought it. After months of fleeting doubts, I finally see for myself that losing a bedside table in favor of a larger bed was quite the right thing to do. The bed played quite a significant part in loosening my jaw when I walked into my room the morning I moved in.

The only thing left that kept me from unpacking completely was that my father had yet to drill holes in the walls for my bookshelf and shelf. The shelf for obvious reasons - it's suspended, and the bookshelf because it would otherwise be frightfully wobbly, and might just keel over and krush me like a cockroach when I reach up to grab a book.

Quite a few things haven't arrived - the dining table, my dad and brother's computer/study tables, and the sofa set. Again, I made a big fuss when my mother initially wanted to stick to the fengshui master's recommended orientation of my bed facing the window, so that when I slept I could gaze far away into the sky. I quite nearly went into a complete freak out when I saw that she was perfectly ready to get me a new table instead of shift my old one in. Luckily with my dad's coaxing I got my way. Saved them quite some money too.

As for the TV, jeez, Standard Definition looks atrocious on HDTVs exactly as advertised in electronics stores. And I say this with a Samsung HDTV, which apparently has one of the world's leading upscaling firmware.

I however, opened my big spoilt mouth, and my parents bought a HDMI cable for my XBOX 360 (yes I've finally opened it). After having to gaze at Standard Definition all day while tuning the TV channels (parents didn't want cable), I felt my techie heart sigh with ease when I finally saw blessed 1080p resolution. Halo 3? Sweetness.

Oh right! Now that I've shifted, I finally get to pull my silver carousel musical box out that I bought from Hokkaido. It's lovely, I'm looking at it as I type. It was relatively budget though, so it doesn't have that convenient stop lever at the side, and once you wind it it plays through until it runs out of energy. Would have been good if the LED lights went off after awhile too. If I ever fell asleep while watching it I would probably wake up to a melted carousel.

Enamored with my new room. Enamored with my new home. Enamored enamored enamored.

Hokay so the intended Internet network is up now. Thank God for the thoughtful integration of a telephone/data switchbox. In other words, my router sits in my store room, and is technically able to connect via 100mbps Ethernet to every single computer in the three rooms and my Xbox in the living room through the wall socket, without wires crossing the house and threatening to kill you when you trip while holding a... um glass bottle of vinegar. Surprisingly though, when made to do it, the Mio Box-branded 2wire router can send out a pretty strong wireless signal from a simple option on its configuration page. I'm getting a stable 76% strength with my router in the store room with door closed.

Also, after abit of bickering, I reluctantly agreed to change my table's orientation to face the wall, instead of my bed. Reason being my parents feel that it poses a great hazard when the window is left open, and rain pours in, straight down the back of my desktop monitor. Even I have abit of a hard time reaching in to close the window. They will have a harder time, plus they want to do periodic cleaning too. I was pissed that I can't sit on my bed to watch videos now, and that my sound system is facing a whole 90degrees away from me (audiophile horror), but I guess my room was so small, it didn't turn out to be too bad.

Also, of course, my shelf has since been secured, and I've arranged my display items, mini-one-shelf-favorable-titles-only-library of books, and... miscellaneous stuff over six shelves in total.

Anyway. Enamored.