Friday, July 27, 2007

sun(set) gazer

Global Warming Raining

Last few days have cast some serious doubt on me whether our planet really suffers from Global Warming.

Most of the days I had been wet & cold & as much as I tried to evoke my anger to keep me warm, I couldn't. The flu came. And knowing how resting (that is sleeping or lying on bed reading plenty books) is the best medicine (for me, at the very least), I have resigned to the fact that I'll look (and sound) sickly for the next few days.

Try to make the best out of the situation, I'd say.

Nothing so far (except for some childish, defiant gesture in MRTs when I purposely coughed towards the direction of people who refused to give a way--despite me coughing an "Sorry, excuse me"--and those who just pressed into the train while I was trying to disembark).

Oh well, their thick skin should be adequate to protect them.

Heh.

Back to Global Warming. Came across this rather old article, "The Irony of Global Warming: More Rain, Less Water" by Robert Roy Britt, LiveScience Managing Editor (16/11/05) & realized how clueless I have been. Global Warming does lead to raining. A lot of it.

Quoted from the article:

As the climate warms, more water will fall in the form of rain rather than snow, studies have shown.

Darn...

And we can expect more 'showers with thunders' if this Singapore Weather site were to be believed.

Click the above snapshot to enlarge

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Coma

Say the name, Alex Garland & I doubt it rings a bell. But say the movie, The Beach & I guess you will have heard about it. Yes, no thanks to the rather chubby Leonardo DiCaprio acting in that show.

Anyway, the movie was adapted from the similarly titled novel—also his first one—written by Alex Garland.

This review is, however, not about that novel.

It’s about his third novel, published 10 years later: The Coma.

It is about a young man reluctantly stood up against some thugs in a train as they harassed a girl. Understandably, the baddies, in turn, rewarded his heroic effort by attacking him & he fell into a coma.

Thus the title.

But wait, there’s more to it.

The story unfolds as he apparently woke up in a hospital & started to experience “strange” things (Well, nothing as spectacularly eerie as that in “The Dead Zone”, by Stephen King). For examples: in one moment it was night & soon, in another, it was dawn. In addition, the young man couldn’t recall how he went from one place to another. He couldn’t remember his name, nor his occupation.

A case of amnesia, you’d say.

No, there’s more to it.

Oh well, further elaboration will definitely spoil the plot.

Let me just say why I like this book. First is its unique plot. It narrates a coma patient, after encountering “strange” things, realized that he’s still in coma & started his quest in regaining his consciousness. (A spoiler? Hope not) Second is its brevity. Relatively short & easy to read. Some chapters are condensed into one single page effectively conveying the plot straight to the point. Third is the illustrations by the author’s father, Nicholas Garland, a British political cartoonist. Odd sketches in black & white, but fits the ambience.


One of Nicholas Garland's sketches in The Coma.


It’s a gripping book, not unlike Kafka’s Metamorphosis (also reviewed here).

And just like the latter, there’s a chapter towards the end that puzzles me, namely, Chapter 13. Get the book & hope to hear your thought about it (especially on that chapter). I suspect it just makes a rather convenient, albeit senseless, transition from Chapter 12 to 14, but somehow I doubt it.

Then again, I won’t make sense till you read the book.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Books of Magic / Yahoo Auction

Came across the auction here. Written by Neil Gaiman & published by Vertigo are good enough to compel me to bid. Even if I knew nothing about the series. I checked Wikipedia for some info (Full article) & when I read the following part...

Many people have noticed similarities between Timothy Hunter — a bespectacled English teenager with family troubles who has a magical owl as a pet — and the later and more famous Harry Potter.

...I decided not to participate in the auction.

Friday, July 13, 2007

"The Building"

It was just an ordinary, deserted three-storey building. During the day, people passed the building without giving it a second look. I was one of them.

At night, however, it was different. People steered away from the building. They made a big round away from the brooding building. Yes, we all felt the call from the building. I too experienced it. That's what happened when you lived just opposite it across the street . Nightmares came till I grew to ignore them, till I grew too old for them.

Now 15 years had passed & I was back to the neighborhood tasked to take apart the building. There had been reports that the building was misused for runaways to hide. To make it worse, there were rumors they were too good in hiding that they were never seen again.

My demolition firm was given a task to destroy the building as the area to be re-used as a park complete with fountains, mini ponds & child playgrounds, etc. That will surely boost the property value of the area, the Mayor grinned as he briefed me.

I was not fooled, though. I sensed fear in him. He did not concern himself with getting a good name by raising the value of the property of his town. He was not ambitious. He would be retired soon as he had publicly declared.

He was scared & I determined to find out why.

After the meeting with the Mayor, I set an appointment with my two foremen to inspect the area. We needed to plan the duration of the project, the manpower requirement & equipment to be used. You know, the usual stuff. Nothing special.

Or so we thought. It was late morning on the day, the three of us entered the building. The door was not locked. It couldn't be locked; I observed with interest how the keyhole just looked like three holes drilled. They formed a triangle if a line was drawn connecting them.

I paused shortly before I opened the door. Feeling that inexplicable sense of doubt that things would go wrong. I tried to convince myself that it was just my childhood’s fear of the building. You outgrow it, remember? So be a man & enter.

One of my foremen, Tay shook his head apparently annoyed by the delay & stepped to open the door. We breathed thick, stale, stuffy air as we entered. Poorly ventilated, the other foreman Raju cautiously remarked.

Suddenly we were shivering. The cold wind was blowing hard against us. “Different of pressure,” Tay offered to explain, “It bounds to cause the sudden flow of air.”

I didn’t buy his theory; neither did I want to be seen as unsure by my foremen.

A sudden slam startled us. The door was closed & suddenly it was dark. Raju was heard muttering some prayers to his many gods. I switched on my torchlight & started to walk towards the door.

Leave it, boss. Let us just inspect the building quickly & go for an early lunch, Tay proposed. True. The sooner we finish the inspection, the sooner we can leave this place. I still felt bad about the place & Raju’s prayers did not do anything to diminish my fear. In fact, he made the situation more eerie with his trembling prayers.

The atheist, Tay was heard chuckling. However, he had enough of good sense that he did not use the opportunity to ridicule Raju. He might not believe in any gods, but he was courteous enough to respect those with faith.

Together we inspected the place. Cracks in the ceilings & walls told us that the building was not safe & that it should be quite easy to bring it down. In some occasion, I suspected my eyes played trick on me. I seemed to see the dark liquid slowly flowing out of the cracks.

“What the?! Do you guys see it too???”

Raju’s hurried prayers confirmed me that he did. Tay disagreed. "Just the light effect, boss. Here, let’s use our torchlights together."

Lo and behold, they were just cracks. No liquid in between. Nothing, except a layer of dust.

“See, boss? Another good reason to lunch early today, isn’t it? You must overtire yourself.” He laughed softly.

I used my handphone to see the time. 22:30, it showed. Huh? Can't be! That’s it. No more sentimental. It’s about time I replaced this old, loyal Nokia 3110 with the new one.

“Hey, Raju. What’s the time, man?”

10:31 p.m., his slow reply was. Disbelieving.

“No wonder I am starving!” Tay exclaimed. “We have been working so hard here that we forgot the time & even skip the lunch!”

“Stop fooling, Tay. See your own watch if you don’t believe.”

He looked at me grinning & slowly raised his hand in annoyingly exaggerating motion to look at his watch. His face turned white.

“You are right. It is night. But how can it be? We barely enter the building. We have not even reached the second floor yet.”

“Forget the second floor!” Raju begged. “Just get the hell out of here. Please, Sir.”

We hold our breath as we heard knocking sounds from above. The knocking was varied in frequency & strength almost as if it attempted to sound like a laugh.

Tay & Raju started running towards the door. Something tripped Tay & he fell to the floor with a loud curse. I helped him up & I noticed his hands were soaked with dark liquid. With my torchlight, I noticed that the liquid was dark red, almost black & it felt very oily on my fingers.

I supported Tay as we walked towards the door. If we make it alive, I’ll make sure that Raju is assessed poorly for not being a team player, I made a mental note.

Suddenly Raju was calling me from a distance. “Boss, boss. Come. Quick. I think I lose my mind. I cannot find the door.”

What, now? Butterflies of dread upset my stomach. Tay told me to go ahead. Mumbling how his knees hurt, he wanted to rest for a while.

I walked slowly towards Raju’s voice. The slippery liquid in the floor delayed me. I walked for quite some time & I still heard Raju’s voice somewhere at the passageway in front of me. Strange, I don’t seem to reach him, I wondered.

Then I heard Tay screaming.

The same cold wind hit hard against my face made me dropped my torchlight, lost balance & I fell awkwardly. It hurt my poor ankle. Once sprained, forever strained with weakness. Words of wisdom from a Chinese sinseh. I sighed. No point to try to walk. I recognized the kind of throbbing pain that waited once I started to stand. I lied on the floor, my back wet with the oily liquid. It felt warm to the skin.

The door was slammed on and off.

“You heard that, Sir? The door? Why can’t I find the door?!?!” Raju’s questions were heard so clearly as if he’s very nearby.

“Sir? Tay? Anybody? Please. It is not funny. Say something. Please.”

Didn’t he hear Tay screaming just now? I wonder. Something was indeed very much wrong here & I sprained my ankle. Perfect.

The knocking sounds were heard louder & closer.

I lied still awaiting for whatever it was coming.

If I were lucky, this could be just a bad dream & I would wake up very soon with cold sweats.

The knocking sounds were now very much closer. I sensed a dark shade standing by my side. I couldn’t see it. Not without my torchlight. I could only feel it. Feel the cold, intimidating presence that made me breathless.

A sudden tap on my shoulder made me gasping, breathing in the air hungrily. It was Tay & we’re still in front of the door.

“Are you okay, boss? You’re standing there for quite some time ignoring us & looking pale. You’re sick or something? Or just admiring the unique keyholes?”

I smiled weakly. “Feel a bit dizzy. Heh. Guess I should not have skipped breakfast.”

A quick check at my handphone, it was 10:30. “You know what, let’s have a brunch first. My treat. Forget the work.”

Tay & Raju exchanged a worried look. I didn’t care to explain. I only wanted to get as far as possible from the building.

“You’re sure nobody in the building, Sir? I seem to hear some knocking sound somewhere inside.” This Raju, he just has to ask, doesn’t he? I glared at him.

I quickened my pace to leave the area. My ankle didn't hurt.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Singaporean Beauty

The weather whispers
Sometimes there's so much beauty...
And sometimes, there's not.

The Pain Affected My Brain?!

Whatever did I think previously? "Fearless"? Nah, "reckless" is more like it. Bad choice of word & littered with plenty typos / grammatical errors. Heh. Perhaps I just blogged about the experience to get it out from my system.

Anyway. The treatments with the Traditional Chinese Physician were quite a success. Yes. Do notice the darn plural. Treatments. That Friday (29/06) was the first visit, then it was Monday (02/07) & the last one was on Wednesday (04/07).

Monday (02/07)
The physician examined it (pressed here & there & marked the skin where it hurt. This time, they were four locations) & declared that the bone had been rightly relocated.

But why do I still limp, I asked. And why it hurts even more when I'm standing?

The ligament's a bit torn, he pointed. A bit?! What do you mean with 'a bit'??? I was too stunned (dreading what kind of torturing treatments in store for me) to ask.

He told me not to worry too much about it. It will heal naturally. Right. I wish I had certain healing factor in my system. Sigh. Real life sucks.

As I lied on the bed, his assistant put on the similar bamboo-look-alike cylinders. I still didn't manage to see how they worked. After some time, she took the cylinders off & the physician took over for the massage. To my pleasant surprise, he told me that as the bone had been repositioned properly, there would be no twisting like the earlier treatment. He's good. He could tell I was being apprehensive. That I was anxious of further twisting.

That pleasant surprise was short lived.

The massage looked simple but hurtful. Continous rubbing & kneading at that ankle area brought back the pain like that when he tried to push away the blood clot. My logic suggested that it could do more harm to the torn ligament & urged me to kick the physician with my good, fully functional, right leg and sprang to escape. My cynical me sneered that I was just being coward.

I chose to cast logic aside. If I were lucky, this would be the last treatment. That thought gave me hope. For a while. When the massage was finally over, the physician advised me to come again on Wednesday.

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” (Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese monk, 1926 - ???)

Nicely said. But on that day, I had only a brooding anger & fear about the incoming...

Wednesday (04/07)
Sure I could tell it was a good progress of healing. From the amount of bandage used (One of these days, I would post up the rather gory after-treatment photos. Heh) & how the ankle was getting less stiff, I was hopeful that Wednesday could be the final treatment.

It was. The physician confirmed that as he checked the ankle. Only two locations marked! Yay. Moreover, I was not told to lie on the bed. Just to sit & the physican gave me a small stool to support my ankle as his assistant put on the cylinders.

And I noticed how they worked. Well, more or less. It involved fire. The flame was put into the cylinder & it was quickly pressed on the skin. The fire inside the cylinder must burn something (some oil?) & as it burnt, it created vacuum & thus, the sensation of the skin being sucked.

After a while, the physician told me to lie on the bed & he started massaging it. The pain was more bearable & in fact, I was rather enjoying it. Either I was healing or I was getting used to the massage.

Oh well, it was an experience. A good reminder that while I could be "fearless" (read: "reckless"), I should have worked more on my balance. I should have learnt more on how to fall. And to rise back. And not to ever forget the experience.