Friday, December 30, 2005

Two-Dollar Trust.

I had my dinner at Yishun yesterday. This particular Malay food stall unfortunately did not sell gado-gado. My loss! Sigh. Well, as long as there was this menu called ‘sambal goreng’, I could always enjoy it.

So I ordered a simple meal: white rice, sambal goreng, tempe and paru. Cost me $2. Cheaper than I expected. Perhaps because too many stalls nearby, thus the competition was tight.

But still I was surprised when the old lady told me to enjoy my meal first, to buy a drink and then to pay her as she didn’t have a small change.

It’s after all a big hawker centre and how it is easy for me to eat my meal, to buy a drink and just to leave the old lady with an important lesson of life of not trusting people that easy. Hey, for me it sounded as much as the old lady was na├»ve despite her old age.

Uhm, the capacity of thinking evil does not mean that I’ll enact it. *heh, a bit defensive here*

So I bought the drink, with a tray of meal on one hand and walked back to the Malay stall and paid the lady her due. She asked me why I didn’t eat first. I just grinned and shrugged.

I guess the yesterday lesson was people have to take a risk to trust others. Or perhaps the old lady was the wise one; she knew that she could trust me. Perhaps experience has taught her to discern who the cheater is and who is not.

Sure the sarcastic me inwardly whispered, “That’s just 2 dollars. Think the old lady will do the same if the stake is, say, 200 dollars? Think you will do the same of paying her first?”

I should say without doubt that I’d do the same. Some principles are just too solid to be shattered.

PS. Upon re-reading this article before posting it online, I realize it conveys rather a pompous message. That’s not the intention. The objective of this article is we all have some principles or values that we might have forgotten that we need others—even strangers—to remind us about them principles.

PPS. Even that PS still sounds pompous. *groan* What I want to say is that it's such a nice feeling when you are trusted by a stranger and nicer the feeling is when you choose not to abuse that trust.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Entry L. Enter: Anonymous X…again.

Remember one of my earlier posting “Entry X. Enter: Anonymous X”?

“Merry” will not be an accompanying adjective for “Christmas” for the lady blogger, Anonymous X. She just lost her Grandma. A few days before Christmas.

I could not say I feel for her. I couldn’t even tell how I felt when I lost my Grandmas. Perhaps that’s because I was just a small kid when that happened.

Anyway, like the rest of people who are unsure what to do or what to say next, I could only send her an email with a sorry and an excerpt of “Auld Lang Syne” with an intentional capitalization of one of the letters. (And no, I’m not hinting to reveal your identity. You did that yourself in your comment in my blog. Way earlier.)

I must say I learn something from this particular article of hers. About how “(they) should be grateful that (the Grandma) lived a good life and that she's no longer in pain”. Be positive. On the other hand, that intention of being positive inflicted self doubt within her. To the extent that she wondered whether "maybe (she's) just a cold, heartless bitch or something". (Which all of her readers will surely contend that she's not cold, not heartless bitch, but she's definitely something but NOT in a negative manner)

But really, just because it’s a custom that people mourn the loss of their loved one, does it make it a right one--a must?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Lantern for A Present

Darn! It didn't come with a power ring. No chance to gauge how strong my willpower is. *grin*

Yeah, that’s what I got during a Christmas party lucky draw in my company yesterday. No complaint. Partially amused before giving it out to my colleague whose children might have more fun playing with it.

But not before finding out how popular the comic, Green Lantern was.
I asked my younger colleagues what they thought about if the lantern was green and came with a ring.

Answer: Green Lantern.

Not bad, one could even recite the oath (nah, not me…I could use the Internet to hunt for the info, but don’t expect me to recount it out of memory).

"In brightest day, in blackest night,
no evil shall escape my sight!
Let those who worship evil's might,
beware my power.. Green Lantern's light!"

Ended with a cheer and a shout of “bottom’s up!” Hic!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Friends, Narnians & Countrymen. Lend me your paw! (insert *ROAR* here)

Nah. Hardly impressive as a battle cry.

Anyway, I finally watched the show, The Chronicles of Narnia (TCON): The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe yesterday. I reserved my doubt especially after the traumatic experience of watching The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Galaxy (should have just sticked to reading them books).

Perhaps TCON was enjoyable as I could not completely recall about the plot. My first books that I read in English when I was a kid. Altogether there are 7 books written by C.S. Lewis from the creation of Narnia till the end of it.

And if I may quote an excerpt from the site of the link no.1 below “C.S. Lewis once wrote that the idea for the Narnia books came to him from images: "a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen in a sledge, a magnificent lion.", I'd say that he had a great time weaving tales from those 3 keywords.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Continue? / Restart? - Ender's Game

Enough anger has been unleashed about the whole NKF thing.

It's rather a shame, isn't it -- since it's Christmas around the corner.
Instead of smiles on our face, most of us are glaring while reading the recent news.

No, I am not advocating to forgive and forget (you see any halo yet on top of my head?). I just say I'm getting tired of it. At least for today.

So, let's focus on the positive stuff, shall we?

One of them is the possibility of Orson Scott Card's novel "Ender's Game" to be made a movie. The link to the article was forwarded by Sonic (Thanks, man).

The movie--if it's ever made--will be a success.
It has the same formula like the movie, The Chronicles of Narnia (TCON): The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

They share the elements of endearing kids saving the world and of wonders that blow your mind (in Ender's Game, that wonder will be the Battle School, in TCON, it is the young world Narnia itself).

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Our Writing Industry Ain't Dead Yet.

Earlier this morning, I’ve posted a reply in "Quills and Swords" to Randominty formerly known as “x Fledge” from the NaNoWriMo's now defunct forum.

It’s about the Sunday Times special reports about writers in Singapore, the titles of the articles.

No, I don’t mean to ridicule the local publishers of being very much selective in publishing the works written by a local writer. Neither do I despise those who want to publish just for the sake of stroking their ego to see their names on the cover of the book. Tsk, tsk. If I ever con—convince, I mean--a publisher to print out my book, I’ll just have a simple ‘a_x’ on the cover.

Local publishers do make sense. Why take risks of commercializing something that may not have potential gains for them?

Now stay with that logic and my next question will be:
Why nobody proposes to publish the KPMG’s 332-page report on findings of the NKF investigation and sell it to the public? Hey, try to download that pdf file yourself and you will notice how slow the file is downloaded (I gave up after 3 attempts).

I'm sure many will buy it. The publisher could even tout it as part of charity. A portion of the money will go to, say, the new NKF. No, of course not with the laughable arrangement of every-1-dollar-10-cents-go-to-you.

Much intangible benefits to be realized. For the publisher? The company will surely earn the renown as one quick to anticipate the opportunity.

Not really an altruistic act, you may say.

What do you expect? We’re living in the interesting times when a certain individual could proudly lament that he had served 22 years of unpaid volunteer (Duh!) work for the NKF since 1971.

An oxymoron that I must admit is of the higher level, way beyond my comprehension than that last one that I thought was already ludicrous enough (Pls refer to ‘decently-paid intern’ article of Jadeite. Apology pending as I didn't get her permission to put on the link to her site prior to this article.)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Frequency - Not just about parenting.

For those who think of watching the movie, "Frequency" to learn about parenting--solely about it--be prepared to be disappointed.

Yes, there are a number of touching scenes about the show.
Mostly between the father who is a firefighter and the son, a police.

One of such scenes is when the father in the past asks his little son to speak thru the radio with the same son in the present who is 30 years older. Cute!

What impressed me most is the scene when the son--the present one--advises the father in a rather pushy manner (lives at stake here, people!) what needs to be done to prevent the serial killer from continue killing in the past. And the father, in frustration, just sorta admits that his son knows best (Well, the son is a police and he has the namelist of the victims as well as the details of the murder--place, date & time).

The cinematography is overall just plain. The strength of the show ought to be in its plot. But there is one particular scene that I think is very well orchestrated.

It is on the day when the father is supposed to be killed while rescuing a person trapped in the building caught by fire. He has been warned by his son (of the present) earlier & in the critical moment he chooses to heed the warning.

At the same time, the son (in the present time) is having a drink with his friends.

As soon as the father takes another way out of the building (this time the right one, the one that will allow him not to be posthumously remembered), the son starts experiencing the influx of the new memories. I'd say it must be a shock for him as shown with how he is shaken and drops his glass.

Slow motion on the falling glass.

Meanwhile, in the past, the father throws his helmet out of the building (I am not sure what this gesture means. Something about a firefighter's tradition? If I am killed, remember me while you're staring at this helmet?).

Slow motion on the falling helmet.

Scene keeps changing between the falling glass (slow motion) and the rapid flashes of the new memories for the son. As well as the changing scenes between the falling helmet (also in slow motion) with the sequences of the father (and the rescued person) sliding out alive of the building.

The scenes stop when the glass and the helmet hit the floor.

I am totally digressing. :(

My point being that the show is one of those memorable ones. But don't watch it for a mere reason to learn parenting. True, you may learn something. Equally important: you'll definitely be entertained too.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Not Christmas Lights

I don't suppose that I'm going to make it a habit to post a photo. Just for the sake of learning, what's wrong with the following eerie picture?

It was taken in the evening, using a Night Scene mode.
I suspect that I moved the camera too early while the photo was being taken. But any other reasons?


Friday, December 16, 2005

Go the extra mile?

Why, that’s nice. But perhaps you should not.

I put a booking inquiry for a flight on this site. At first, I was impressed. They offer to deliver the ticket and have the payment collected during the delivery. It is therefore most suitable for those who are not comfortable to settle any online bills using a credit card.

Not bad, eh? By doing it, they do not limit their customers. Even those who do not have credit cards could also buy the tickets online.

Once the booking was made, the response was quite prompt too.
However the content was inducing my bitter laughs.

It was politely stated that they were sorry that the airline that I chose for the dates was not available (Okay, fine. The screw-up in your site was perfectly understandable. Maybe they were not really that good in updating the info. That could happen anywhere. Still it was very kind of them to let me know immediately).

No problem for this part.

The problem, or shall I say the irritating part is that they took the initiative to book me a place in another airline. Without asking me first.

I mean I admire their initiative. About how they attempted to be helpful. Trying to offer the second alternative since my preferred airline was not available. Sure, the fact it was costlier might be just coincidental. * shrug *

But please, shouldn’t this kind of initiative be stated in their Terms & Conditions or even in their FAQ? * with a poker face as I did not really check the former, but I did read the FAQ before booking *

So I wrote to them a brief thanks-but-no-thanks note.

To their credit, they did not push me to buy. You know how it is with the usual sales strategy? The one when the seller keeps pestering you to explain why you do not want to buy their products instead of doing the right thing to promote the products and explain why the products are useful?

Anyway, yeah. They replied--also promptly--and they explained that they were just trying to be helpful. For that & that alone, I'd say that I will surely use their service again in the future. :-)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Dream a little dream of them.

Ever dream something weird & remember about it--at least, most of it--when you wake up? Usually I cannot recall whether I dream or not. This morning, I do. And I am rather disturbed by it.

Just need to write this to release it from my mind. Hey if I can make others confused, why won’t I? Let’s not share just the good stuff, shall we?

I dreamt that I was at a big warehouse. It was empty & pitch-dark (so it has firmly established that it is a dream, otherwise how would I know that it was empty if I couldn’t even see anything?)

Anyway, it was empty & pitch-dark. Humor me. At one corner, there were a group of spiders. At another, there were worms of various colors.

Somehow in my dream, I know that they were forming a colony. I took my PDA (yet in real life, I don’t even have one. Ha!) & I chose a button to speed up the colony development.

I witnessed how they grew rapidly in intelligence as demonstrated in the way they built their small cities. They soon started to wage a war as their boundary expanded.

What I then recalled was one army of spiders returning from the battlefield & brought with them prisoners of various species (I deduced so. Not that I saw them chained). Mostly worms. But the disturbing part was there were humans too.

I remembered I felt intrigued about it & peered closer to examine when one of the humans (darn, could only retain the feeling that I was surprised it was him. But when I woke up, I couldn’t remember who the guy was) suddenly grew larger & stapled my forehead. Ouch.

All went blank.

The next sequence was that I found myself waking up in the warehouse. It was afternoon. So I was asleep while working (not that I ever do so in real life, mind you) & I woke up feeling a bit ashamed of myself (sleep while working is a big No). I went to the toilet to wash my face & on my way, I felt a strange sense of recognition about the two empty corners of the warehouse where the colonies of spider & worm were formed.

Suddenly the lunch siren was shrieking and it sounded just like my alarm.
I was wondering about it when I finally woke up.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Online Hunting for A Writing Competition

But I ended up finding this site: "At Last! Writer Beware Blogs!"

The above homepage makes a good reading.
Not easy to be a writer, it seems.

People can aspire to be one. Nothing's wrong with it. But if one does not put any effort into it, one can just dream, right?

That's what prompted me to find out any writing competition where I can submit the novella that I wrote last month. Just to take a crack at it & to see how I can improve further.

Oh yes, it is not boastful when I say that I'm proud of what I wrote. That's how everyone who reached the finish line of composing 50,000-word novel must have felt anyway.

True, that's just the issue of quantity.

Quality-wise? I need that writing competition. Preferably one that allows your writing to be returned by the committee with some commentary. *Cue for those who know of such a competition to share the info* ;)

Friday, December 09, 2005

What a difference a day makes...

...especially when it's not a working day.

I was on leave yesterday. The whole day! Just to renew my re-entry permit. The procedure was really hassle-free; checking on the website for necessary requirement did help too.

The whole shebang--from taking the queue no & getting the new permit--took only about 1 hour. So why applied the whole day leave then? Well, I've plenty of them anyway that are going to be wasted. Period. Elaborating further on this point will either mean that I’m too valuable an asset for my company that I very rarely applied a leave (yeah right!) or that I have a poor time management that I couldn’t even plan my leave.

Nah, not really. Planned to go back during Chinese New Year, though.

Anyway, I digressed.

I went to the library@orchard afterwards.

Managed to borrow the Sandman Vol.1 “Preludes & Nocturnes”. Yay!
Found a Sin City graphic novel: “Family Values” too.

I read the latter at the library. Plenty bloods were shed throughout the story. Oh and some nudity (All in the name of arts, I reckon). But hey, we’re all adults here (Kids, shoo shoo, press Alt+F4 now, will ya?).

The plot was admittedly simple & the art was nowhere like the Sandman books. Still the simplicity of the plot & the drawing (sketches in black & white) was a fresh change after indulging in the intricate storyline & the art of the Sandman.

Come to think about it, the black and white drawing may try to convey how even in the corrupt city like Sin City, there were characters with a simple black-and-white notion of justice and revenge. But they were not so. Okay, maybe the style of the art itself was meant as an irony.

Like in “Family Values”, till almost the end, readers were misled to think that the vendetta was due to a dog being brutally shot. But it was ironically indeed the reason as the killing of the dog resulted to...*this part is intentionally left blank*

Anyway, gotta stop before spoiling the story too much (or annoying too many people. I'm not a good reviewer nor do I intend to be one). But what the heck, it’s my blog. And this article should serve as a reminder for me in the future to give other Sin City books a chance.

Yup, that's got to be the reason.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Pick up that phone!

Don't! That's how the main character Stu Shepard at the movie, Phone Booth, might have cursed himself--in retrospect. Imagine you finish making a call at one phone booth and suddenly that phone rings and you just feel compelled to pick it up. And you soon find that you regret it because...(go & watch the show!)

Okay, it's a 2002 show. But it's recommended.
(and no, I won't elaborate further as I don't want to spoil the story)

One of those unique movies. For this one? It's because almost ALL of the time, the setting is at the phone booth.