"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Sunday, August 31, 2003

Ed: In the vein of my last weekly post, the following few paragraphs will be slightly depressing. They are not, however, a gauge of my current mental state, but of that after SOC. They may also not be as lucid as my normal posts. If you wish, you can skip to the next block of text in this post.

I had SOC again on Thursday. I'm so outstanding that, from one point on, I had S4 on one side of me and my Senior Medic on the other. In fact, I just set a new SAF-wide record for SOC - a good 46 minutes plus!

If anything, I think I'm getting worse and worse at it, and mentally more fragile - and both the IPPT I had the previous day (with a tiring timing of 17:21 for my 2.4) and the rain, making the obstacles slippery, did not help. I've lost much of my confidence for the 'confidence' obstacles, so even though I managed to do them last year at 41SAR (before they renovated the place and made the course much harder), I can't do them now. This time, it was only with plenty of cajoling and attempts, and doing them the non-standard way, that I managed to clear the balancing beam, albeit crawling across - I don't think I've ever walked across, and the Jacob's Ladder (using my arms to support me).

At the ramp, I hesitated, and was asked the classic question, "Are you gonna do it?". After a while agonising, I said "No" and started to walk off, till S4 called my name. I turned around, collapsed and broke down. Later, after the SOC, we were doing the Swing Trainer since many had trouble with it. When it came to my turn, the Conducting Officer asked me to try hanging onto the bar for 3 seconds. After about 2.5, I lost my grip, fell face forward into the sand and broke down again.

So now I'm going to be taken out of SOC until I am "ready" (whatever that means). If the test of readiness is how much confidence I have, I think the day I gather up sufficient courage to walk the balance beam, traverse the Jacob's Ladder and jump off the ramp is the day that I will have the courage to defenestrate myself (or die in some other suitably attention-grabbing way, sew my eyes and other orifices shut or engage in some painful act), preferably for some sufficiently noble and laudable cause like world peace, world hunger, nuclear proliferation, the denial of retro-virals to AIDS patients in South Africa or the abolishment of conscription with no alternative. But then, if I had the courage to do those things, I'd rather have gone to DB for 5 years rather than debase myself, pollute my soul and betray my conscience.

SOC is supposed to train people mentally and build up their confidence. Though it was left unsaid, the cliched adage came to mind: "The best way to conquer your fear is to face it". I suppose, then, that a stint on Fear Factor would do all of us some good. If we should face our fears to conquer them, then those of us who fear dying should have a near-death experience (though those tend to have high fatality rates) or better still - kill themselves. Those who fear bankruptcy should give away all of their money and live penniless, those who fear losing loved ones should have them killed off, and those who fear losing their virginity should lose it. Ultimately, if we fear being surrounded by unfriendly neighbors and having our water supply cut off, we should invade Johor and secure our water forever, to say nothing of conquering our fear! These may not make much sense, but on further thought, you will find that they make sense in a perverted way, as with the original adage. It's just that people don't tend to think critically when trying to motivate themselves, for they prefer lying to themselves. Is it any surprise that the army puts so much stock on feats of purely physical and pseudo-mental natures that claim to train determindation and willpower, while doing absolutely nothing for more important realms like moral courage?

Nevertheless, SOC will continue to be conducted for the majority of Singapore Slaves. As such, I would like to suggest further activities to build confidence and mental strength:

- fire walking
- bungee jumping
- tightrope walking
- dashing across the road in front of a bus
- gambling with one's life's savings
- letting a rattlesnake bite you and injecting the antidote later

I think I can say goodbye to my long weekends. I have been told that I'm supposed to take them when 42 takes them, but then there's Saturday RT each week. If I took mine when 42 was in camp, it might be easier to escape the RT, but now... [Ed: I'm not making much sense.] At least I still have my Friday night stayouts. If I didn't even have those, I'd be under 42 for everything except pay!

During my IPPT, I was running my 2.4 very slowly, because I was tired, and there was SOC the next day. My S1 saw me running slowly the first round, so he can to run with me, while talking to me. Ever so slowly, he began to run faster each round, to try to trick me into running faster (though I *did* notice). In the end, I did 17:21, but was very tired and short of breath. Cunning and effective!

It's madness - there were at least 5 times as many people (>=35) involved in the conduct of SOC (marshallers, safety specialists, etc) as HQ Coy people taking it (7, all medics. adding in the Company Line, about 2-3 times). What a waste of manpower, especially on people like me who can't pass.

One morning we went down for 5BX at 5:30am, but no one came. After half an hour, just before flag raising, I was the first to awake from slumber, and woke the rest, who went for breakfast. I hope this happens more often :)

BMT in my unit is very weird. I saw some recruits doing the artillery drill and practicing file movement around my parade square, and apparently their Bayonet Assault Course is done in the football field.

I saw one officer sweeping his office at 10:30pm one night. This must be the first time I've ever seen an officer doing area cleaning, instead of bullying his PA into doing it, but then he's one of the more exceptional officers in my unit. When I related this anecdote to someone else, he told me about the time when he was the duty clerk, and the duty officer swept the Ops Room while he watched TV. Heh heh.

In 46SAR, people from obese BMT who pass IPPT get a day off. Those who get Silver get 2 and Gold, 3. This is by virtue of obese passes for IPPT contributing 10 times the points to the Best Unit Competition (BUC) than normal people. In 42SAR, however, there's no similar incentive. Bah. [Ed: Not that it'd motivate me anymore but, still.]

Bingxun is being posted to 42 SAR. HAHAHA. As they say, "Welcome to 42SAR. You die. All die!"

Words of the wise: "The army exists as a fom of alternate emplyment to those unable to work with people with a brain and a spine"

Melvin can read my scrawling, probably due to his training as an MOPA. Time to make my writing more messy!

I was at a hospital, and saw that the one year anniversary issue of Seventeen was out. I then remembered that I last bought it when its first issue came out, so I decided to buy the anniversay issue! Sadly, they've removed the hilarious section where they get this cute looking guy to profile himself, and some girls decide whether they'd want to date him (and as someone remarked at the time, the girls look much worse than the guy). Maybe it was too offensive for "Asian Values" (bah).

Nevertheless, there was this amusing section where teenagers sounded off on the other gender:

On Girls:
- "Some girls think they can do anything. Like those who think they can play sport. Stick to the baking, my dears."
- "I have a friend who likes to play volleyball but she's not very good"
- "Girls seem to think they're good at playing therapist and helping people solve problems"
- "They can't park for nuts. And they drive really slow. Except for my mom - she kicks my dad's ass"

On Guys:
- They think they're really cool walking down the street, in their baggy jeans. But they're really not"
- "Guys think they are so good-looking"
- "Guys' jokes tend to be more dirty"

Just for the heck of it, I entered an army friend for a Seventeen competition (sponsoring him to the tune of $0.30). Maybe he'll win some girls' clothes or makeup. Hehe!

A few people were wondering why I bought Seventeen. Well, if girls can read FHM, I reckon I can read Seventeen. Hahaha.

Apparently the LTA spends $42,000 a month removing illegal notices from bus stops, overhead bridges and similar places. They claim it's hard to catch these people, but they can just pretend to be looking for tuition for their son, and then clap the irons on the prospective tutor when they meet up!

More New Age management junk: Walmart calls its employees "associates" who "[share] in the company's prosperity". And of course, Singaporeans are being urged to learn from this - if you can't pay your employees decent wages, why not indulge in meaningless, cost-free measures!

Some of us went to Swensens, but they screwed up the bill, so we got some stuff free of charge (though it wasn't very good). Hah!

In Isetan, I saw this girl in a spaghetti strap who'd tattooed something on her breast. Funky idea! Maybe I should get one on my butt so people won't complain so much in bunk.

Since I got enslaved, pirated CDs have been becoming harder to find. Now, though, there's a stall at the pasar malam at Jurong East MRT with what must be 10 tables of games (more than I've ever seen), including some very old ones - I saw Age of Empires, - Xbox, PS, PS2 and PC (applications too). They'll be open till end October too, though I think they'll be raided before then. So if you want to stock up - notwithstanding my horrible luck, where 6/7 of my CDs did not work - go support local enterprise (as well as keep a viable alternative open for those without broadband and a CD burner)! At the same time you'll be leeching supernormal monopoly profits and evading daylight robbery, while generating plenty of consumer surplus (especially considering most who buy pirated games would never buy the originals even if the pirated ones were not available). But do remember to buy some originals now and then to balance it all up.


[On people from obese BMT and doing IPPT once in the unit] You all obese [people] pass, never get anything? [Someone: More training]

Eh Gabriel, you're sick. Why did you buy "Seventeen"? It's a women's magazine. It doesn't have pictures of girls, only of what girls do. [Someone: He wants to understand them better] [You bought it] Just for a tube of facial cleaner? *proceeds to open the magazine's wrapping and read it*

[On an instrumental rendition of Ave Verum Corpus] Hao3 xiang4 you3 ren2 da3 wan2 zan4, shi3 [Translation: It's like someone died after a battle] *salutes*

[Me: People always ask me to introduce RJ girls to them] Yah, I want to know RJ girls. Very chio. I looked at the past years' yearbooks.

[Someone: I want to know more girls.] I can introduce this girl to you. "Kimberly", she's Gabriel's friend. She's always online... I've never met her before, but I find her quite nice to chat to. [Someone: Is she the same size as Gabriel?] About the same size.

National [JC], the girls cannot make it.

[On the above] Because he's interested in JC girls. He's got a fetish for JC girls.

Gabriel, what school were you from? [Me: RJ] Before that? [Me: RI] Stay away from us, we're from ACS. [Ed: I should have said 'Chao Yang'...]

The army exists as a fom of alternate emplyment to those unable to work with people with a brain and a spine (sms)
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