Thursday, February 28, 2008

'F' the resolutions.

No, this isn't like a 'New Year Resolution' or anything, it's simply what I plan to do this coming year.

This place is great for food. Every street, every lane, every part of the city is littered with little eating places that offer cheap and satisfying food. So here's part one of my survival plan. Find the food.

I don't know how fun university life can get, but everyone seems to be telling me I will love it. And especially in Melbourne, where everyone seems to be in a mood to party - come on, the people here sit along the streets at 2pm in the afternoon for beer. So part two of survival plan, seek out all the fun spots in Melbourne city, and also in the suburbs and any other locations nearby.

Okay, simply to keep in touch with the old ones while making new ones. Nothing much more to say, right? Not a survival need, but hey, everyone needs some support from someone out there.

No, sorry. I just needed to find something that starts with 'F'. Sorry, no plans for such stuff. Ought to be part of a survival plan though.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Unsettled thoughts.

It's been a two days since I arrived. Nothing much has happened, just a whole lot of unpacking and organizing my new room. It feels different – definitely, and I dare not say that I have fully settled down, but I guess it’s happening slowly.

If anyone mentioned that studying overseas is a great experience, it really is true. No, I’m not talking about the mere cultural differences or the disparity in educational systems – it really isn’t very significant over here considering the large Asian population here – but rather, the whole process of it all, from preparing yourself to moving in to getting used to it, it really is something I have never before experienced.

I used to have this idea that moving overseas to study was rather easy, especially when I’m supposed to live with my cousins – quite wrong in fact. You start to realize that perhaps a lot of things have been taken for granted. Even simple items like nail-clippers and combs have become something I needed to make an effort to get.

Walking into school today was a really great feeling; I am sure that the entire experience would remain in my mind for countless years to come. Two years ago, I visited the school while on a holiday trip, and here I am today, a student of that same school. Remembering the tour my cousin took me on during my trip made me go a little fuzzy. I guess it’s also the excitement in me that made it a really wonderful feeling. Even if it does not look as crowded or as busy as any part of Singapore, the school seems to emanate some warmth that made me feel rather comfortable. Well, whether or not this is going to last is something I will have to wait and see, but for now, I guess everything seems nice and friendly.

I suddenly see the whole ‘independence’ thing about studying overseas. Being independent isn’t just about taking care of your own self, cooking, doing the laundry, blah blah blah. It is this entire package that encompasses an unmentioned self-discipline that I never saw in myself – not that I see a lot of it now, but I’m sure that more if it is going to be required of me in no time. I am lucky that I already have cousins here who have lived here for some time and are have been really helpful.

I guess it’ll take me slightly more time to fit into my new environment. As of now, I still call back via Skype everyday to chat with family and friends. I really don’t know if doing this would only keep me shackled to my Singaporean life and hinder any (as of now, unseen) progress in living my new life here. No, I’m not saying that I ought to throw my past away and start totally afresh, and neither am I supposed to cling on to it and remain closed to this new lifestyle. Telling myself to find a balance between both extremes is easy, but as like any other of those easier-said-than-done advice, finding the balance itself really doesn’t seem that easy.

On one hand, I’m really excited at the prospect of meeting new friends, yet I’m very afraid of losing my friends back home. Not that I’ll lose contact totally, but I’m sure that a certain distance would be formed when two people are apart, and that distance is what I would want to minimize. So I guess it is essentially down to how much I want to minimize this gap.

Anyways, there really is quite a lot to think about now, but in a sense also quite pointless to do so. Perhaps given some time here, things would naturally work out to a nice balance and I’ll be able to keep a fair share of my past while opening myself up to a new life here. I suppose that all I can do for no is to wait and see. Maybe an answer would surface in a week or two. Just maybe.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Movie: P.S. I Love You

P.S. I Love You.'P.S. I Love You' is based on the best-selling novel by Cecelia Ahern. In this romance flick, Hilary Swank plays Holly Kennedy, a young lady married to an Irish husband, Gerry Kennedy. The movie starts with a heated argument between the couple that ends rather comically. In the scene following their make-up love, Holly faces the sudden death of her husband due to a brain tumour, and is left to fend for herself.

Months passed but the young widow is still unable to move on from her past. On her 30th birthday, however, she receives a surprise - a voice recording from Gerry. Following the recording, Holly receives more letters from her loving husband, who prepared everything, including a holiday trip to Ireland, before his death. Every note and letter ends with a "P.S. I Love You" that never fails to leave Holly (and even the audience) longing for more. However, this plan to help her get on with life with ease threatens to backfire and keep her captive in her past as she waits obsessively day after day for more letters to come.

I liked the way the script was written, able to fully display each character's personality, and same for the pace at which the plot develops. Great acting by Hilary Swank, and kudos too to Kathy Bates, albeit having a somewhat smaller role in the movie. As you watch the movie, you marvel at the master plan and wished that you could, one day, find/receive such love. However, you are also constantly haunted by a heart-wrenching reminder that that sweetness comes with a heavy price of losing a loved one - almost as if someone was playing an evil trick on you. 'P.S.' has a great story that leaves you with a sweet-sour feeling tingling inside. A decent movie to watch if you aren't into explosions and gun-fights.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Arrived in Melbourne

I've arrived safely. I need to unpack and settle some stuff. And first of course was the internet. Next is to clear my room up. School? Forget it, that's last for sure.

The flight was good, managed to catch some movies. I tried to aviod thinking about stuff, and thanks to the movies, Adrian didn't become some emo-traveller.

Okay, back to settling other stuff. More to do tomorrow.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Work in progress.

I had been putting every blog post on hold since awhile ago. No time to really sit down to write, so that's why my recent posts have been quite dry.

Give me awhile to pack up, move off and settle down. I'll clear it all and get back to my blogging. In the meantime, bear with the boring stuff.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Meeting up.

Meeting up with everyone's great.

At least we met up. And I hope to see everyone again real soon.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lost and un-found.

I get weird answers when I ask myself questions. Just when I think I know what I want, I realise that it really might not be the case. Fickle, maybe?

Or simply just lost?

I can't even figure that out.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Branded spending.

I think I have heard enough of complaints from the older generation regarding the way the 'younger generation’ spend their money. Words like ‘splurging’ and ‘materialistic’ have been quoted countless times on the newspaper forums, and such remarks are usually followed by a reminder for a need to ‘educate the young of today on financial planning and healthy spending habits.’
So, are the youngsters of today really spending more than they ought to? How much is too much, and what should be the limit? Is there really a restriction we ought to set for these children, especially since they mostly have not started earning an income of their own?

Today, the younger generation is caught in an environment where spending money is more than just buying an item itself. In modern times, money spent on a shoe goes not just into the manufacturing and transportation cost, but also into the goodwill and branding of the manufacturing company or the designer. Cotton on a shirt cannot cost $100, but you see such prices in many shops in cities all around the world. We have moved into an era where branding has become such a widely-recognized concept, and brand-recognition is taught to all the young of today. There is no running away from names like Nike, Adidas, Nokia, Sony, etc. To add to your financial troubles, seeing a Nike shoe on 50% discount sometimes seems like an offer you simply cannot decline, and out comes your card again.

We are victims of our own capitalism, of our own brands, of our own marketing concepts.

How much blame can we push to our children for all the wastage of money? We always label the young people as being materialistic and brand-conscious, and that they are over-spending. We cringe whenever we see school children queuing up at Starbucks, because we see a coffee shop across the street that offers coffee at a fraction of the cost ($0.70 compared to $7.00). We condemn the children, claiming that they do not recognize the need to save money, or that they are wasting hard-earned money their parents earn. We go on talking about how we used to have very little money to spend, without considering the fact that society has become more affluent.

I am not encouraging your children to spend $7 on a cuppa, but perhaps we ought to take comfort in the fact that the young of today are enjoying a higher standard of living – what are we working so hard for anyway, a better life, right?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Japanese table tennis.

Here's a video of a peformance on a Japanese gameshow. It must have taken them ages to perfect it.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Pre-departure gathering.

A departure that brings a group together. Ironic.

But dinner was great, and drinking was fun. Thank you for everything.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love is?

Love is seeing a value of S$200 in a bunch of nicely-wrapped flowers. And blowing bubbles on a bridge.

And oh, happy valentines day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Punctuality comes late.

It is okay to make someone wait for you; it isn’t so for a group of 36. It is okay to make people wait for 5 minutes; it isn’t so for half an hour. It is okay to be late for a casual meeting; it isn’t so if there is an appointment to keep to. Some people just do not understand the situation they are in – they remain oblivious to the fact that there is a large group of people who have waited for them for some time for a dinner reservation.

What’s wrong?

No, there isn’t anything wrong with meeting late because you are stuck in a genuine situation. But apparently, there are people who choose to take their own sweet time to shower, after choosing to take a nap shortly before the arranged move-out time. That just isn’t right.

A super-contagious bad habit.

Yes, it definitely is a bad habit to not keep to timing. And this habit is always reinforced with extra practice – often to a point of perfection. It is almost impossible to find in a group a high percentage of punctual people. And often you find that once someone has been late a few times, they tend to be late more frequently in the future. Also, having a late-comer in the group encourages the entire group to give in to the “He’ll be late anyway” mentality – the spark that lands in the pool of fuel.

Unpunctuality comes (too) early; punctuality comes (too) late.

People learn very early and easily to become late-comers, but rarely see the importance of being punctual – unless drastic action is taken against them. It usually takes a few reminders before a frequent late-comer makes it a point to be slightly on time. Slightly.

Punctuality: a virtue, a matter of attitude.

Keeping yourself punctual isn’t at all difficult. It’s simply self-discipline, just like taking a shower when you need one or washing the cups after you’re done with them. It does not require you to go anywhere out of the way, but to simply do what you need to do. Yet, some people have this impression that punctuality is a bonus of sorts. I believe it should be a default characteristic wired in everyone’s mind, not something extra or special – rather, a lack of it is indeed a huge no-no. If you have never been early, try it once. Make it a point to turn up 10 minutes earlier and see the difference, You’d be able to experience the pains of waiting for someone, as well as the joys of being early. (Yeah, right.)

Just five minutes.

If you find yourself in a position where people wait for you more than you do for them, it’s time to take action. But no, not any form of drastic action. Just a simple step to make things a lot better for everyone: plan for your bad habits. If you usually end up late by 10 minutes, factor it into your plans. For example: You know you are meeting at 3pm at a certain place and you need 20 minutes to travel plus 20 minutes to shower and get ready, you drag yourself into the shower at 2.10pm. But do so by telling yourself you need 25 min to travel and 25 min to shower. Do not make it sound as if you are giving yourself time to procrastinate, because you’d most likely abuse that arrangement you made. Start early, so that if you take things slowly, you would still be on time – or better, early.

Everyone should just make it a point to leave on time and stop thinking that the person who has waited for you once will do so for the rest of his life. You know it sucks to have to wander around aimlessly wile waiting for someone else, so don’t do that to your dearest friends. And if you happen to be meeting me, bear this in mind: Time’s running out, just like my patience.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Steven Lim to Edison Chen's rescue.

This is freaking hilarious.

"Don't give... don't add... petrol to fire. This will cause an explosion, my friend."

This is freaking hilarious. Need I repeat?

Utterly obscene.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Gathering's over.

It's been a great long weekend, with everyone from all over flying back to meet up for the Chinese New Year celebrations. Having a chance to see everyone again is really good and, sometimes, bad. But hey, it wasn't anything horrible or anything, and the whole celebrations went on as usual, and I believe that as a big family, no matter how upset you ge with each other, things would work out and it'll be back to normal again. Thank goodness it did.

Dinner on both sides on the eve was great (and really filling). Steamboat with the dad's side, then to the hotel dinner with the mom's side. More drinking over at mom's though. Blue Label's great.

I think I witnessed at first hand how difficult it is for a huge family to live together, where everyone can tolerate and accomodate each other's (weird) behaviour. It really isn't easy, and I am thankful I do not have to bear with all these nonsense throughout the year - 3 days a year is more than enough.

Having said all these, there was a lot of fun and laughter of course, with all the jokes and stories we share with each other. Even sitting down in the kitchen to snack and chatting away brings joy to everyone. I really love such gatherings.

I think I'm starting to get much closer to my relatives, especially on my dad's side. But alas it's the last month I'll be here, and the next time I get the see them would be the end of the year. Even when we used to meet every few months when I travelled in to visit, the feeling's different. Well, at least it's getting better and we can talk more now.

I hope there would only be more members present in future gatherings. I love them all too much.

And oh, once again, Happy Lunar New Year to all of you out there. Hope that you had more than your share of fun this festive season.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The human in the taxi.

People always question me as to why I tend to ‘waste money’ taking taxis to travel around. They try to encourage me to save money by citing how extensive the current bus and MRT services are, and that taking a cab may not necessarily save you time – and definitely not money. Granted, a taxi ride to say East Coast Park might cost me 10 bucks, while a bus ride to the nearest stop would cost me slightly lesser than 2, but I just cannot resist the thought of taking a comfortable car-ride down to my destination.

Perhaps it is also my propensity to procrastination that drives me to flag down a cab. Whenever I make plans meet at a specific venue at a certain time, I tend to delay my preparations to step out of the house, up till a point where I convince myself that I can simply take a cab so that I would not be late for my appointment. So there you go, reason one why I’d be more likely to blow 10 dollars than spend time on the bus/train.

Another reason why I tend to take the ‘easier way out’ is that taking the bus and trains usually involve a lot of waiting time. Waiting for the bus, then for the train at the interchange, then the bus again, and I do not like spending an hour plus travelling to a place where I can get to by taxi in like 15 min. But then again, it’s not as if I usually put the saved time to good use – nothing very productive usually.

These sound like really pathetic justifications for my blatant wastage of money ‘that does not come easy'. But then again, I admit I am rather spoilt in that aspect. I used to be ferried around by my parents, and I usually end up in a car one way or another. Perhaps it is just a really bad habit I have since a long time ago.

There is actually one reason why I enjoy taking cabs, and it is in fact a rather new reason – the taxi-drivers I get to come across. The seemingly rough or uneducated ‘uncles’ we see in taxis are in fact a great source of inspiration. (No, not for blog posts like these.) I make it a point to talk to the taxi drivers whenever I get on a taxi because I believe that they are more than willing to have someone to chat with during the journey. Being cooped up in a metallic box on wheels the entire day with nothing but an electronic voice to inform you of new passengers can literally drive you nuts. These poor people need a human touch to life – and an outlet of sorts for the grumpy ones.

Taxi drivers can talk about anything, everything, anywhere, everywhere. I have heard of interpretations of life, explanations to the political scene in Singapore, complaints of government policies, lamenting of new taxi rates, lessons on life, advice on the need to further your education, practically everything! And boy can these people talk. All you need to do is ask a simple ‘Uncle, how’s your intake nowadays with the new rates?’ and you get a reply longer than my all my blog posts combined. Just give a polite ‘Ahh, yes,’ or a ‘Oh, okay,’ once in a while, and you get to tune in to a radio station that gives you a whole new perspective to things you have never thought of before. And if you take it all with a pinch of salt – something I also learnt from another taxi-driver – you will definitely learn something out of your short conversation (or monologue). There is much to be learnt from them – stuff that schools never teach you.

Since the first time I initiated a conversation with a taxi-driver, I have never failed to start one when I hopped on the cab. It’s really simple: Smile when you get in, ask to go to your destination politely, and simply ask a question to start it off. It does not require much on your part, and you probably get to cheer a person up, while picking up some conversational skills yourself. Try it the next time you take a cab. (I think it also serves as a distraction from the fact that I am running late while stuck in a jam.)

Taxi fares are more than just a travelling expense now. It’s a fee for a great deal more – not simply an excuse to justify my over-spending in this case.
I still want my driving license. But no, not so that I can be cooped up in a metallic box on wheels the entire day with nothing but an electronic voice...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Of physics, psychology and philosophy.

Given the four equations of motion and other physics laws, one can calculate and predict with certain confidence, the movement and therefore the future position of any particle. Suppose now that there is a way to compute and observe all particles within your brain. A large system applies the basic laws of physics on every molecule in your brain, and by doing so, calculates and predicts the future - your every thought and action.

What free will is there to speak of then, when every action of yours that you percieve to be made freely is actually just a result that comes from a couple of physics formulae. Does this mean that you are simply living into a future that has been fixed?

This was a question I came across some time ago. I first heard of this when my physics teacher metioned the French scientist, Pierre Laplace, who put forth a suggestion that applying the laws of physics to every particle in existence would allow for a prediction of the future. My teacher then simply dismissed this suggestion by citing the freedom to make decisions, and that free-will would prevail, that there is no way one can use physics and override the human soul to predict the future.

Having read of this question again not long ago. I found out something else - that in quantum physics, there lies a region of semi-existence of sorts, where things are just a mere possibility. This would definitely throw Pierre's plans off, since at a small-enough level where the laws of quantum physics kick in, nothing is predictable, even movement.

However, my main concern now is no longer the ability to predict the future based on some strings of characters, but rather to explore the essence of free-will. Let us now assume that even if the existence of quantum physics does throw our calculations off, we are still able to predict things to a small fraction of a second into the future - at least it's still something. A projection into a further future would inevitably lead to larger margins for error since miscalculations can always be magnified.

If so, what then is the free-will or decision-making we speak of? If some stranger we have never met sittng in front of a computer screen can predict which ice-cream flavour we would choose, does that mean that our choice is no longer a decision based on free-will, but a mere phenomenon that is 'fated' to happen according to the laws of physics? Since the idea of free-will has always occured to us as a decision we make on-the-spot, independent of all other events in the world, doesn't the prediction then prove our perceptions to be flawed?

Maybe our concept of the future itself is flawed. Perhaps like in quantum physics, there really isn't anything that is fixed, just a matter of probability.

Maybe we are just confusing ourselves with rubbish that should be left to the geeks.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Been rather busy and really tired to churn out any content. Nothing with much content at least. Maybe after this holiday season. I'll probably be away till Sunday night, so till then, see you.

Happy Lunar New Year to all of you out there.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Filming, revisited.

No, it isn't fun, really. It's one huge logistical nightmare.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Filming's fun. And tiring. And a hell lot of logistics at that.

I hope it all goes well.

The decisive farce.

"Ready. Relevant. Decisive. Join the [Insert Organization Name Here]"

I'm pretty most males of my age in my country would find this advertisement rather familiar, and would glady attest to its prevarication. I would not claim that what they said is absolutely untrue - in fact, there are perhaps traces of those claims - but I would gladly challenge their decisiveness.

Perhaps someone can prove me wrong? But before you do, please do not validate your arguement with stories of how your generation suffered in the past under the stringent and unreasonable treatment you recieved. Face it, this is 2008 if you are still living in the 1970's and yes, we are spoilt, all thanks to whom? It takes one generation to surfeit the next with an over-indulgence of everything you deem today as luxurious. "Lead by example", they call it.

Kind of went off topic.

Back to the advertisement. It is said that being at the top gives you the best view. True, but as you stand at the top, you scan an area far wider than your mind can handle and you tend to miss out details and whatever that remains hidden in caves. Perhaps people above are slightly complacent with what they have, thinking that what they see is what actually happens in the entire organization. Well, that is seemingly true because everyone works for the sake of impressing their superiors to climb their own ladders. And we all miss out our main goal in the process of impressing others.

Perhaps you should get yourself a pair of binoculars and see what's really happening "on the ground". (I hate it when people use this phrase incessantly without giving a d**m - at least be a little more sincere?)

Join you? Nope. Not in this lifetime. Nor the next. Never.

You cannot run such an organization with people who probably studied engineering and left their common sense in their storerooms so they could memorise their textbooks.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Sub-prime discussed.

Sub-prime woes? Not quite with these two.

Yup, details are boring.