When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, April 20, 2002

I was just at Ikea to support (or laugh if you prefer) at the people taking part in the 24hr playwriting competition organised by Theatreworks. Those I knew were sitting in a large clique - 5 people, and didn't have much to show after 5 hours, with the most being 2 pages of stuff written :) They'll probably do as people usually do with homework - slack till the last hour and then go into overdrive.

I'm told that the J2 Humanz people call me "Emperor Penguin". What comes around goes around! :)

Burger King's reduced the price of their "King Size" to 30 cents. I doubt anyone'll bite, though - even I can't finish a King Sized meal.

Andrew, you should ask all your Uni friends to read your posts. Then I get get even more hits. Muahaha.

My trust IIIc's screen finally gave up the ghost, so I'm now reduced to going around with pen and paper. Oh well, palmtops aren't allowed in SAF camps anyway.

I wonder if I'll ever get the RJ 2001 Yearbook. It's taking an awfully long time. As is the Raffles Guys one. Tripod's reducing the free disk space quota soon, so I'm going to have to move. Lazy though. Bleah.

I got a weird email:
"Hey I used to be from ACS. Do you know any girls from RGS?? Maybe you can maje an introduction"
Got to know chris a bit ... he hung around as we ate our Intersection dinner in lygon court.... going to tif's place was called off since it was so late and everyone was tired.

I was a little worried about dissection prac on friday... then sarah found out and was telling me about how it would go, and that they wouldn't start flinging limbs and sawing up things... put me at ease (thanks loads sarah!! u rock!!)

We had quite an informative workshop before going into the lab... tutor explained lots of things clearly to us. Then we walked into this cold (air-con's kept colder than usual in the anat labs because of special requirements) and saw lots of tables with white sheets draped over them. First thing we saw was a leg... not a face. Then we were introduced to an arm, finally face, trunk, and a full body. The smell of formalin (especially when a lot of it comes out when exposing body cavities) is somewhat overwhelming... but nobody in first yr med fainted that day. After touching the various parts, my gloves stank... i thought they would just smell strongly of formalin, but i was very wrong.

Struggled to remove my gloves without touching any actual part of it. I had been commenting earlier that i would probably throw my clothes into the laundry immediately... gleefully forgot abt doing that, kept everything on thru OCF.

And brought jiaming and tiffany to ormond dinner (fish, chicken, chips) cherlynn and her friend crashed from trinity, were on their *second* dinner. And OCF afterward. I was quite disappointed with the word, maybe it's just that it didn't live up to last week's power message on the Kingdom of God. This week, he glanced thru "the kingdom of god is within you. Within you!" and practical applications of the passage in Matthew. I think i fell asleep thru it.

Lu-fee has a cool organiser! It has a metal cover, a microchip thingy with capacitors and grooves and lines and things like that!

In OCF word time brought up definition of hell as an eternity spent apart from God.... which sparked off lots of opinions and discusssion... As vyu kien described it, any form of bible study or learning has no warm-fuzzy or academic purpose other than its original one, to change lives- the wesleyan "the only eternal things are the Word of God and the souls of men". Adjective for the bible- "rhema"(sp?) Living, Breathing Word of God- that Wisdom, defined as knowledge of God, can be increased and our relationship with God will grow and deepen.

Oh and gabriel the premise you put that the catholic church believes in good works before faith, and the protestant church believing faith before good works, does not hold by the Gospels. It is soundly defeated in Romans- 8 i think. [Ed: I said no such thing! :) I just said the Catholics believe both are needed and Protestants just believe faith is needed]

And gabriel your premise is flawed, according to the bible those who are in the kingdom of God should have the faith that automatically prompts good works. And this is common to all.

Getting late, and i gotta wake up at 7 tomorrow... will blog more.

I've been neglecting blogging...... suppose i could blame it on the tests.

But i've been having a lot of good times after the tests, right after the test I met up with Janice to prepare bible study- Ephesians 2:1-10; on salvation by grace. The BS stuff's easy to go through, except for the odd question or two with awkward phrasing.

Though i get sick of hearing "exceptions to the rule". Anatomy's full of them - like this principle should hold EXCEPT for the cases where they don't.

Anyway, yea i was talking abt bs prep- started branching out, and i brought up what crystal told me abt the first part of John relating how Jesus was present at creation and how the world was created "through him". Following that train of thought..... after a while janice got a bit panicky and asked how we started talking abt creation. I reminded her i brought it up because my friend had told me about it and she was quite relieved. And later she went to consult emily and vyu kien about all the unanswered questions.

And after that we went to paper chase for dinner (janice thanks for giving me lifts every where! But there's practically no chance you're reading this, so i'll just have to say it in person) bak kut teh... with bits of pigs' spare parts in them! Yum! And i was hearing about how ocf is full of gossip... and how many couples in OCF started purely because third parties started rumours of attached couples ... which sounds so sad.... well not exactly sad if they're happy together, just that they won't have a particularly romantic beginning to look at but what are beginnings anyway?

And I think messy, awkward break-ups are the hardest things to handle... i mean, there are the ones that end on bad notes and neither party really wants to communicate with the other (which makes it so awkward socially) and there are those that sorta leave things hanging.... with the expectation that one party doesn't want it to end and that there's still hope some time in the future. I guess they pop up when new relationships start. And there are the ones that end on a better note ... but there's always hurt, pain and abandonment, and distrust.

Anyway, back to my life. Med seniors were telling me more about med in college square, met tiffany again in the corridor, and vyu kien gave a lesson on ephesians derived from watchmannee's "Sit, walk and Stand". Good, but i had trouble catching up, and he kept glancing at me with worried looks at my confused expression. I was in lecture mode, copying as much as I could register, and putting big question marks next to lots of things. Went thru them again slowly the following day, and it all fitted together very well and made sense. Janice drove me home ( =

Thursday was... quite a day. Played badminton, albert said i was improving. But i should stop jumping to hit high ones, I keep missing every time. And i managed to smash once. Then I forgot all about my feedback interview while playing badminton, felt terrible about it, but it got better when i found out 2 others had missed theirs. Will have to apologise profusely next week and try to contact my tutor. I think i'm subconsciously avoiding it knowing it'll bring bad news- since I turned up 5 minutes late for 2 tutorials (it's the first lesson on tuesday mornings!) and hardly prepared for either of the 1st two tutorials- leastways I did my reading, but didn't cover all the topics, or didn't present them as they should have been.

Quite-boring tutorial on enzyme- testing enzyme action (an enzyme in glycolysis in cellular respiration) by measuring accumulation of of a metabolic product, NADP+, by its ability to absorb, erm, light of wavelength 390nm or thereabouts. Waiting for albert- to go shopping for birthday present, then realised all shops were closed by 5 or 6.

Since it was still part of the Chenyi's 5-day birthday celebration, we were supposed to go down to tiffany's apartment. Girls were still having baseball training, so we went to watch for a while and i showed tiffany and albert around ormond. Who pointed out i messed around with much more toiletries stuff than a normal guy should. Baseball looks so fun.... passing balls to your team players, the victorious contact of bat and ball, and the impact of ball on glove. injuries though.

In the end we went to intersection for the half price pizza and pasta, waited there for over an hour (but it came out to $3 per person!). Jiaming and i started talking about geppers/RGSers/NYPSers which must have bored chris and tif stiff ... and of all people we met 2 nanyang teachers there, they were working for postgrad qualifications, masters in education. Apparently it's mostly the dissertation, their contact hours are like 2 early evenings a week and otherwise it isn't like going back to school at all.

I think I come from a very sheltered background/surroundings. Chris thinks my way of thinking is too school-centred, and I replied that for 6 years, school Was practically all my life. I suppose except for church... but in conflicts between school activities and church activities school almost always came first. And that was part of my self-indulgent post-prelims-depressive-state last year ... and someone had the cheek to twist it as a reason why I shouldn't consider going for a relief teaching stint in RI. I mean, i seriously think i would have done a better job than other unnamed people who went there (but i would say from what i heard, my seniors did it well).

Andrew gan

The word of the day is "preterit"

Yesterday, Silent bought it in a motorcycle accident on his way to a Dikir Barat cultural show. As he took his motorcycle along a hairpin turn at approx 100km/hr, he slid off and the bike landed on his thigh, fricasseeing it. Apparently, he's on accident leave for a month or so, and it's unlikely he'll regain full bipedal mobility, according to the other guard.

His replacement is Clarence, a Dyak Catholic from one of the quasi-government-reserved areas for the indigenous East Malaysians. When I entered the branch on Thursday morning, he was seated in front of the storeroom casually reloading his pump-action Remington shotgun with 12 gauge buckshot. It's one of those old style shotguns where you reload from under the breech, and manually pump it into the chamber. No auto or semiauto unlike the lovely Franchi SPAS 15. While lugging a new shipment of signature specimen cards into the room, I paused, examined one of the rounds, with all their nasty buckshot pellets being a promise of excruciating pain - and asked: "How many rounds does the shotgun hold?"

(In Malay) "Five."

"What do you do if there are six robbers?"


The conversation ended abruptly there.

Coda: "Whenever playing Cowboys and Indians, I was always the Chinese railroad worker."

Friday, April 19, 2002

"Primum non nocere" which the associate flaunts is "first, do no harm" as he patiently explained to me. The basis of the doctor-patient relationship (as explained by my last lecturer) should be regulated by the following 4 principles:

1) Do no harm.

2) Benefit the patient.

(Here it may seem dumb to hav 1) but apparently 1) takes precedence over 2) so yadda yadda yadda)

3) Respect Confidentiality.

In the health care field all salacious gossip about patients is heartily exchanged, as long as it stays within the field of health care professionals. According to popular opinion, It's only a breach of confidentiality if it leaks outside of this group.

4) Ensured informed consent of the patient is obtained in treatment.

Ah hah hah. Personally i think this is not always necessary... i mean as a patient I would trust that my doctor would automatically choose the most appropriate treatment/ tests for me. Providing information is important of course....

Chenyi's birthday dinner is tomorrow!!! So exciting, looking forward to it. And going to ponylands on sunday too! And Jiaming will cook dinner on sunday nite!!

Andrew gan

Thursday, April 18, 2002

The word of the day is "inanition"

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

The word of the day is "incondign"

My, so many medical people. "Primum non nocere"

Personally, I never saw the benefit in prolonging suffering(ie. life), but I guess I'd feel differently if I was suffering from Asperger Syndrome, lissencephaly or Wegener's granulomatosis.

I got most of those names from loyally subscribing to Reader's Digest over the last 15 years:) Only kidding. Here - pick a nice one for yourself or your next of kin at http://www.hon.ch/HONselect/RareDiseaseAB.html

Come to think of it, I already might have Asperger Syndrome....:

"A childhood disorder predominately affecting boys and similar to autism (AUTISTIC DISORDER). It is characterized by severe, sustained, clinically significant impairment of social interaction, and restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior. In contrast to autism, there are no clinically significant delays in language or cognitive development."

Ah well. Today, as part of a staff stress relief programme to enhance productivity, the manager at my branch herded us all into the vault where we spent 20 minutes rolling around in wads of cash, throwing notes at one another, and fanning ourselves with huge bundles of hundreds. Reminded me of all those viewings of Scrooge McDuck in Duck Tales when I was younger.

(If you actually believed that, then I've achieved my stress reduction exercise for the day:)

It gets very lonely and despondent attending to mothers opening 200k trust accounts for their two-year-old toddlers.

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Yeh, I've a night off. Reached the SMM bus stop at 7:02 or 7:12 (I forget which) and reached home around 8. Which gives me 1hr 40 mins or so at home.

Didn't feel like a night on the town, so I went home. Like a few of the rest.

I'll save most stuff for the weekend post, but just one note:

We had our First Live Infusion today. Ugh. Not as bad as I thought it might be (both the pain and the response). Strangled cries, controlled writhing. The lot. One down, 9 to go. The rest were very nice, I got offered a Sarsaparilla sweet and a can of Coke.

Hope we get to go off earlier on the next night off!

Ever since I got posted to SMM, my mother's been trying to convince me to take Medicine. Bah.
Hahahaa...... of all things priapism came up on my problem-based learning (PBL) tutorial... thanks gabriel.

PBL's a new concept being implemented in medical schools everywhere to complement traditional learning... every week or so we're presented with a case of a patient with something wrong. It may be in the form of the information presented during interview with a doctor, or a description of the activities prior to the illness, a medical history or description of the person, a report on the vital stats of the person, more commonly a combination of these. Then we discuss what are the presenting problems, and create hypotheses abt what could have caused all this. Then we come up with a list of learning issues, and before the next tute we read up on the various things in the learning issues (e.g. this week we had a daredevil who dived into the yarra river and hit his head and spine and has lost some muscular control and can't feel any sensation below his neck.... so learning issues were nervous system, anatomy of spine/spinal nerves, stuff like that) And during the next tute we present what we've found and everyone chips in and summarizes what we've learnt. Conclude with a proper diagnosis (and maybe mention of treatment/consequences)

Anyway, priapism came up as a symptom of this poor guy- i assume he had a stroke, something to do with his nerves being all screwed up- absence of anal tone but he had an enlarged bladder.

Anyway, i've heard "waking life" is good, gotta catch it sometime. And yes i still have a pbs test tomorrow.. have other things to look forward too. Like someone who just had her birthday today (but there's gonna be, like, a 5-day extended celebration/festive activity in her honour) and goes around (jokingly) asking for presents.

Andrew gan

Monday, April 15, 2002

Someone pointed out that my earlier comments on I Not Stupid were as disjointed and contradictory as the movie - and I'm ashamed to confess that it's true, on hindsight!!!! ARGH!!!

Spent a day chasing non-performing loans at the bank. Funny how people who can willingly let a few months of home loan instalments slide sans embarrassment get so worked up when you pleasantly remind them about their account arrears.

Blue cheese is good. I wish they had cheap Stilton here, instead of this lacklustre Danish import crap.

Myo Li : "but u seem to be on mc most of the time..."


The evil of Cold Storage:

1 and a half hours before I set out for camp again. Sigh.

6:33pm - Hiho, hiho, it's off to camp we go. Tomorrow I get to tell PSC that thank you, but no thank you, I do not want to teach Physics and Mathematics after a term in NUS.

If we're lucky we'll get a night off this week :) Maybe even 2. Ooo.

Am breaking my long period of silence, because I have just had an amusing experience watching I Not Stupid. Would write a full-blown review,
but shall just cut and paste several edited ICQ messages I sent to Gabriel.

Well, i'm writing an involuted post criticising I Not Stupid quite severely for your blog - maybe i can discuss it with you a bit before i release it.

Basically, the thing that irritated me about the show is its extremely contradictory thematic structure - on one hand it has the whole anti-government, anti-control liberal agenda, delivered in VERY heavy-handed, unsubtle ways - witness the ad people smoking and bitching in the toilet, the various government-citizen analogies drawn between Terry's sister and his mom(such as angpow money/CPF and the general control issue) , and yet it also throws in the whole "mother punishes you for your own good because she loves you and works very hard to see you succeed" sub-text... on one hand it exhorts you to throw off your shackles, and on the other hand, it tells you to blindly submit to paternalistic bribery(witness the use of sports shoes) "for your own good", as the final stirring message of the show reminds us.

i just think that ultimately it fails as a parody, fails to develop the most interesting elements and characters. For instance, particularly with regards to the third kid - the hawker beng-in-training who wants to study hard and finally scores well at his maths test despite being in EM3, putting him on the degree path so that no one will look down on him in the future. Doesn't this kind of contradict the whole "it's okay to be a zhai artist or a fat spoiled bastard" theme?

Also, no one who speaks hokkien so crudely and colourfully(Terry's father) can avoid swearing in a confrontation.

And for secondstance, i find it horribly difficult to believe that a father working in an advertising agency doesn't know what to do with a talented artist son.

And the fat guy's sister is REALLY REALLY bitchily irritating as well as being in a wooden actress in a terribly cliched role - the whole adolescent going against overbearing mom who objects to room decor and dress sense has been done to death everywhere - and BETTER - from Jane Austen to Sweet Valley High. Although this is one of the rare few times that the adoelscent surrenders to parental domination after coming home from the police station and being bribed into submission with a pair of Nikes.

The message is: "If your child is delinquent and has to be bailed out of police station, buy their loyalty and subservience."

I actually agree with the trenchant point made that singaporeans talk a lot but ultimately jump when coerced or bribed to - but it goes against the thrust of the storyline, you get what i mean? It's self-defeating, and fails as a social commentary in that sense. Not to mention the extremely irritating Young and Dangeous chewing ba gua act.

I also find it amusing how the guy in the ad agency who's lambasting the death of chinese culture and how the overpaid expatriates are stealing qualified jobs speaks only in pretty cultured english. Not to mention the inherent hypocrisy of having the evil expatriate use an (apparently) all-Singaporean creative support team. Although I did admire the nod to harsh reality when the expat "won". And note also how the creatively skilled artist kid was offered an educational opportunity in the US. What's wrong with LaSalle? :)

Cliches CAN be fun, but not when they're poorly developed and crammed in excess into a movie that doesn't develop them well

I stand by my assertion - parodies have a message - which can only be delivered with straight-faced, wry underplaying(Wag the Dog, Glengarry Glen Ross, Brazil, Gosford Park), or over-the-top excess(Boogie Nights, Drop Dead Gorgeous).

It also suffers from trying to stuff in too many dramatic cliches.. dying mother, benevolent bone marrow donor, business failing, rising from the ashes, enemies who keep meeting who become friends, a kidnapping, divine justice from guanyin for unkindness, a near-suicide, a barely-adolescent lian-in-training potential-UWC/international school/chinese-with-an-accent bitch who has problems with her parents over her room's decor - frankly, I don't see how adolescently subversive it is having a metal wire decorative wall hanging as opposed to a cane/raffia basket(not to mention her being a horribly wooden actress, to boot), schoolyard injustice(the REAL bully always gets away), anti-elitist sub-text(EM1 achievers and their ilk are all elitist bastards), patient and loving Dead Poets' Society teacher who sticks up for failure students despite the horrifically injust faculty, xenophobic anti-expatriate ranting, anti-anti-Singlish campaign(note the unsubtle touch of having an ang moh being the one defending sinaporean patois as a source of identity), and terrible send-ups of classic archetypes. It only works with singaporean audiences because of crude surface sympatico and humour, but fails on technical and deeper narrative and thematic levels.

I have to admit the dialogue has good touches, and some individual performances are well done(particularly terry's father, although that's more due to the naturally unique humour element in having hokkien being spoken on the silver screen:); and there are some particularly well-done technical tricks(by singaporean standards) - particularly the amusing jump-cut as Jack Neo's Spacewagon pulls into the petrol kiosk and the dreamy, hand-held jittering camera down the void-deck corridor during the suicide scene.

I might also mention the fact that there's definite audience empathy - mainly because this is one of the few really hard-core satires out there sending up Singaporean culture since Army Daze,at least until the Talking Cock movie, so the emotional resonance isn't dulled by repetition or post-postmodern "seen-it-all"-ism, such as which hampers potentially good shows like Death to Smoochy. Shows like Scary Movie and Wag the Dog are proof, as i said, that satires work best when they focus either on being entirely absurd or deadly serious - I Not Stupid suffers from being trying to being both extremes.

I see the movie as a mish mash, a cut and paste of disjointed criticisms, linked by a flimsy plot.It wants to be a critique without going too deep, and fundamentally fails because of hypocritical, contradictory subtexts and an unwillingness to develop any narrative thread in depth, instead milking them for crude emotional impact or shallow, one-off-laugh humour. Which is a shame because there are really good performances by a few actors(the kidnappers, Terry's father, Jack Neo himself), and a few insightful lines, some genuinely good moments, such as www.guanyinma.com:) As a friend of mine pointed out though, ultimately, "Punches were pulled, and the gloves padded.
It's biting everywhere and nowhere at once. In the show, their criteria of success for the students and the characters are still in line with the gov's....." - such as the homegrown Singaporean entrepeneur beating off Taiwanese competitor with the use of mindlessly flashy product placement and the use of vapid, wordless Hong Kong/Taiwanese celebs to sell their products(which says a lot about what the moviemakers think of Singaporean consumers)

Gabriel's commentary: "oh! the sister. her English is really weird, it irks me. Her accent too. And this is supposed to be the epitome of S'pore English? Please. Then again, we are damn pathetic in English. The family was like divided into 2 halves, the chinese speaking one and the english speaking one. I find that hard to believe. Usually there'll be a dominant language, having 2 co-existing is just not feasible. I don't believe the Chinese godmother could brainwash terry all that much." Not to mention how Terry's mother who speaks virtually nothing but English and appears to be a major consumer of her family's product, actually speaks Hokkien way more naturally at the temple.

So as far as I can tell, the show defends being a fat, pampered, landed-property-owning spineless coward; it tries to be pro-ITE/alternative education whilst still glorifying(albeit only obliquely) academic achievement; it's pro-Chinese-culture and nationalistic whilst urging you to throw off the oppressive shackles of government control; and it defends the need for greater creativity while rejecting Western influences; it tells you to think for yourself and not blindly listen to your parents, even though they only care for you and are working hard for your own good and have made such noble sacrifices for you.

Sunday, April 14, 2002

Minor tidbit before I get back to typing bookout post while coughing (damn SMM flu. I actually didn't want an MC but the doctor insisted):

"you're in the army man.. how can u not even be a little horny!" - Christopher Lin on my sending him a picture that wasn't porn

The Web Page From Hell

Information about the new RJ campus - It will have 7 storeys, 2 lifts, possibly escalators, 14 labs, 4 LTs, with one being a 900 seater, a dance studio and a drama theatre. The library will have glass cubicles, apparently noiseproof, so students can shout all they want while pretending to study. However, there will not be schoolwide air-conditioning, so the students will still get more pimples than those in ACJC. Aww.

They move 4th Quarter, 2003. RJ students will finally be free of the malfunctioning fire alarm! Or is it deliberate, to wake sleeping students?

I went to my favourite clinic, Serene Family Clinic in Margaret Drive today to get something for my SMM Flu. The doctor insisted I take an MC even though I declined :) And he also recognised my handphone ring tone: "... violin concerto".

I am informed that the S Cube Seminar is to be held on Tuesday at NTU. I wonder if anyone will follow in my footsteps and piss the guy off :)

Male school students are not particularly enamored of walking around - on Saturday, I went to Holland Village for lunch with my sister and I only saw 1 schoolboy, and he was sitting at a bus stop.
Bookout post:

Yet another bookout, yet another post.

Restored post

On reaching the School of Military Medicine (SMM) on Monday, we were made to wait until about 4pm to be assigned to our individual platoons and such, because the SAF, "an efficient and well run organisation", had sent too many people for the medic courses, such that some (like Jason Lau and Yong Gen, who applied for Medicine) had to be made Temporary Support Staff (with 8 to 5 jobs!) and about 60 others are now in the NDP marching contingent for the Medic wing, and also get to go home at 5pm.

SMM is located tantalisingly close to the Civilian World. That makes it both better and worse. One of these days I'll spend a good half an hour gazing longingly past the token barbed wire tipped fence.

Perhaps the most irking thing about being a trainee at SMM is that you are not allowed to bring in handphones. The given reason is that they may be stolen since most of the cupboards can't be locked (mine's one of the few that can!), but that should be the trainee's own problem. I suspect they just want to torture us, or force us to read our notes and medical books or die of sheer boredom (since anything more expensive than a Discman is prohibited too). Especially since there are 3-4 public phones for probably 200 people. At this stage, I am like one of the 3 people who are -not- going to smuggle in a handphone. This is because I am lousy at doing illegal things :) and don't want to risk signing for extra duties. A weekend duty'd probably drive me madder than going without contact with the outside world. I think I agree with Kairen that the thing that keeps you going while you're a slave is the company and comfort of the others. Though I was commended by some bunk mates on my "cover and concealment" - hanging clothes to block myself while chatting on my mobile. So we shall see how the endless game plays out, with trainees bringing and having brought handphones for years immemorial and instructors alternately trying to catch them or closing an eye.

I'd been warned by many that the facilities and amenities at SMM were very bad, but it was even worse than I expected. Or maybe it's just that, coming from spanking BMTC, everything seems pithy in comparison. The bunks are very dirty and run down, though our beds are quite new. Though we get pathetic looking foam mattresses, they're actually okay to sleep on, because the area the mattress rests on is formed from lines of metal, which are very springy. And the fans blow wind to the bottom bed, which I sleep on, so the only bad thing about the double bunk bed is that my buddy steps on my stuff on the way down in the morning. It's the mosquitoes that trouble our sleep the most - 4 nights out of 5 I was frantically scratching my legs through the night. The place is also accursedly dirty - the Health Inspector did a check and found it too dirty. Which is one reason why I got the SMM Flu. The thing I mind most is the shower facilities. There are no walls in the shower area, so you shower like you're in prison - naked with the others! So I went from he-who-comes-from-the-shower-with-a-towel-around-his-chest to he-who-bathes-in-underwear. Though on Friday night I decided to bathe in the squatting toilet cubicle with the pipe that the Malays use to wash up after doing their business. Some of the Malays decided to be disgusting and bathe outside the shower area - in front of the washbasins. Ugh. Most of our appraisals of the conditions - "cannot make it". It sometimes seems like BMT with fewer privileges and fewer amenities. We're the last batch to be schooled in this campus, though. The new camp should have better conditions (and allow handphones, having lost the skimpy pretext for banning them). However, it is rumoured that passing IPPT and SOC will be a requirement to pass the course after the shift.

The School is surrounded by thick jungle terrain, which means the wind cannot blow. So we all sweat more than usual. Oh, and we all have to wear Smart 4 all the time. One day, squeezing my handkerchief resulted in rivulets of water dripping down. I miss the days of running around in admin attire!

Our first 5 weeks in SMM will be spent mostly studying and doing practicals - the paramedic phase. After that, the last 6 weeks will be the Combat phase. Erk.

There were a lot of people in blue outfits running around (or more accurately, sitting around) on monday. They look like Aircon Technicians.

One Malay who'd gone for the MDC auditions too recognised me and cursed them for rejecting him.

Ken was posted to "Public Health Assistant". His job is to supervise the mosquito foggers.

Because the place is too small to support 2 cookhouses, all the food in the cookhouse is Halal. Oh well. The food is worse than Tekong, if that can be imagined, though I'm told most SAF food -is- worse than Tekong. The receptivity ratings are suspiciously high for all the meals, and I suspect they are made up - two being 96% and two 98%. Probably it's because of their cunning - to indicate that you've consumed a meal, you drop a pink chip into a box, and for surveys you drop the chip into one of 3 holes labelled "Good", "Satisfactory" and "Poor". One day, they'd turned the container around such that where you expected the "Poor" slot to be, you found the "Good" slot, so you'd inadvertently give them the wrong rating. Another time, I went to cover the first two holes with the chip containers, but when I was eating I noticed they'd shifted the containers so they covered the last two holes. Cunning! Rather distressingly, the vegetarian menu one day had a dish cooked with Oyster Sauce! There've been some meals with all or most of the dishes containing chilli, but luckily I brought in chocolate covered digestives (which were attacked by the hyper sensitive ants!), and we got a canteen break a day from tuesday to friday (with 2 on friday!), so I was alright. The only saving graces are that we've 2 choices for breakfast, so I'm not forced to consume Mee Rebus, and that the pseudo-Western food is more interesting than that at Tekong, at least from the sole experience I've had. On the menu was 'Irish Stew' (Creamy lamb stew), 'Fish a la "Orly' (Deep fried fish with lemon sauce) and 'Corn O Brien' (Just corn on the cob). At least we can't fault them for having no imagination.

Many people in my platoon are OOCs from SISPEC. Eheh. And our platoon is cut into half - 2 sections bunk at one block and the last at another. Makes morning movement irritating.

Our school is rather small, yet we are required to march from place to place. And sing the silly songs too. This is ridiculous.

There are an inordinate and disproportionate number of cats in SMM, around the cookhouse. Irritating.

We've 8 Bruneians in our platoon. They've diplomatic immunity and get to take shortcuts and have all sorts of other privileges. Maybe we should go to Brunei to train.

Apparently there're many snakes around SMM and snakes are often seen around. School of Many Monsters!

We are not allowed to sing songs with vulgarities and which imply or explictly describe sexual acts or feelings. This means, of course, that 90% of Army Songs are proscribed. Perhaps this odd rule, and the relative scarcity of vulgarity use, is because of the fact that we are very near to the civilian world, and that we have female instructors around. Anyhow, having exited BMT and being bored with the normal army songs, we've started modifying them.


Down by the river, we took a little walk.
Ran into some teletubbies, we had a little talk.
We kiss them! [Platoon: Yah!] Hug them! [Platoon: Yah!] Kiss them hug them! [Platoon:Yah, yah!]
Pull off their antennas.
Smash their TV screens...

Training to be soldiers, wasting our time.
Once in a life, lucky it's not twice.
Have you ever wondered, why we must serve?
Because we all bo pian...

Far far away in the South China Sea yah,
I left a pack of Malboro
I must go for my smoking break yah
A smoker has to smoke even he has to die...

*end examples*

We only have to sing songs from 7am to 7pm though, what a relief.

The anatomy and physiology lectures which we've been getting are basically what I learned in Upper Secondary Biology, so it was like Low Mei Choo redux. Ooo, "phalanges".

Those with driving licences can drive into camp and park there! Wah.

Now we only wear the green socks. Makes you wonder why the SAF issued us white socks in the first place.

The smokers are very happy, because they can smoke 500 sticks a day. They get frequent smoking breaks, and before the first parade and after the last, they smoke outside the bunk as if there were no tomorrow. Too bad the smoking hut, where they must smoke during office hours, looks like a cage.

Someone else also commented, as I have, that if all those ranked 3rd Sergeant and below decided to rebel, the SAF wouldn't be able to do anything. Oh well, timing's the issue.

I was rather depressed on Tuesday and Wednesday, about as bad as during the first days of BMT. Argh, 26 months to ORD... I miss the days of throwing 1 cent coins at Huimei during lectures to wake her up. But my mood swang back to one which, if not exactly exuberant, was at least partially joyous.

We don't get newspapers. Argh. Back to the Economist. We could get the Stayout personnel to procure them, of course, but it'd be too troublesome.

My platoon mate doesn't shave either. Yeh!

Apparently Saturday guard duty's counted as weekday guard duty, even though it steals more bookout time than Sunday duty. Grr.

One C9L2 guy is in my platoon. Weird. I thought such don't qualify.

I hear signals is quite slack. Except they have homework, and it's like Electrical Engineering mixed with Telephony.

One person was proclaiming that he'd try to get out of course and join the September batch.

Seeing that there are quite a few stayout personnel, and that they can afford to give many Nights Off, I think that actually they -can- afford to let us go home everyday, it's just that we have the status of 'trainee' and they want to torment us. I just hope the Nights Off come in abundance!

The Medic School has no Medical Centre. Yeh.

I see varicose veins popping out on my feet again. Gah.

Generally, the regimentation is less strict than in BMT, though after a week's block leave, it didn't feel that way. Our sergeants are all quite nice (I believe we're the only platoon that has not been knocked down as a whole yet), but there's one who's very enthusiastic, the proverbial "xiao on". He made us do pullups before lunch on Friday and breakfast on Saturday, the only platoon to do so, and he hinted ominously about various tortures during the combat phase, which is starting week 6. Ironically, he warned us to beware snakes, but got bitten himself and had 3 days medical leave.

One thing good about being on the Island of Doom is that bookout times are not easily delayed due to the indented boats, whereas on the mainland, they can let you off as late as they like.

To aid us in our learning, we have Computer Aided Instuction lessons, which are somewhat useful. However, the programs were programmed in 1991, have numerous bugs and always crash.

Many or most people are, as in BMT, very religious about brushing their teeth at night and in the mornings, but so far, since December 13th, I'm the only one I've seen flossing (though I do not brush my teeth as often).

My glasses went through a lot of strain - one morning my buddy stepped on them as he came down from the top bed, and later that day I left them under my mattress and proceeded to sleep on them. Luckily, I've wrenched them back into shape.

BMT for females has only 6 obstacles (the low wall is not one of them) and I think they don't wear helmets. Unfair!

During out lecture on shock and the symptoms of it, I was the only one who knew what priapism meant. That's what comes from knowing your Greek mythology!

We're to be allowed to fold our mattresses from tuesdays to saturdays - no pulling of bedsheets! Welfare, man.

We're required to wear our headgear all the time when we're not under shelter. It's quite uncomfortable, but we've to make do. One sergeant major saw that I hadn't put on my cap yet, and he advised me to put in on lest the birds shit on my head :) Heh.


"[On SMM] This place, you look at the buildings. Looks like [a] mental hospital."

"Practically, you will shed blood and tears here."

"Make sure your song is loud and clean."

"[On good buttocks being a sign that a woman is good for child earing] Like me, I don't have... Have ah? Why are you all so... nevermind."

"There's no way you're going to get out of this place, unless you kill yourself."

"The standing order here is, you all cannot IV an instructor."

"Stupid. Medic school no medical centre. (has no)"

"By the end of the course, last 3, 4 weeks, some of you will be volunterring to shoot 3, 4 times. (be shot)"

"[On the theory tests for the course] Past year papers got or not?"

"Don't think that, the tests here you will surely pass, just like all the other tests in the SAF (you will surely pass all the tests here)"

"Everytime you [say] 'Yes Sergeant', like want to fight... Very irritating you know."

"My helmet makes me look like a chipmunk."

"[Me on our bunk: Why are there grilles on the windows?] It's to make this place look like a prison, understand?"

"[To me] Has anyone called you Harry Potter because of that scar?"

"This is the so-called WOW. [Trainees: Wow!] Corny lah, I hear that every batch."

"[You want to bring in an] icebox? For what? You think [this is a] chalet ah?"

"[On SAF tests] They teach you a lot, but they test you little. It's just for show."

"[On my not eating chilli] No wonder you always go back to bunk and eat biscuits.. That's why you sleep so much (slept so much during BMT)"

"[Me: I swear, 75% of Muslim males have 'Mohammad' in their names] I think it's more."

"You know what the IV [needle] is good for? Poking pimples."

"This book, 'Human Body in Health and Disease". Don't just turn to the reproductive system... There are not many pictures there."

"[On us massaging each other after 3 long lectures in 3 hours] 'Ahh!', mass orgy, ah, 'Ahh!'"

"[On priapism] This only occurs in male patients... When he has a spinal injury. So don't think that he's trying to be funny with you."

Stanley Huang is going to the police at the end of the month, where he'll meet lots of Malays!
Kairen just sent me Yaodong's ICQ contact. In "About" it says:

I'm Clarence from Rjc.
May those who see this note have a good day.
Quote of the day:
If u wan someone,go for him/her..if not you'll regret for life..care for him/her..to show ur care n concern..
be sincere n honest..
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