When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, July 20, 2002

Bookout post:

Restored Post

Before booking in last Sunday for Monday duty, I watched Minority Report with Somchaya at Lot 1. Twas good, with only very minor plot loopholes. The explanatory sequence at the end was also good for those who were confused, and to correct any wrong guesses the audience might have had. The thing that really irked me, though, was the parts where you could almost hear Steven Spielberg saying, "Now kids, let's explore some issues!". Erk.

The doors of our bunk and indeed all the bunks in our company (and probably unit too) are very irritating - they are self locking. This is all much more trouble than it's worth, so we make the best of a bad situation and put the key on the ledge next to the door, easily accessible by opening the window.

My first ever Standby medic duty on Monday was rather harrying. Since no one else from 42SAR was around, not least the Treatment Room I/C, whose room I was in charge of and stationed in, I took rather long to accomplish my tasks. There are so many items to check on, and to note down the expiry date of too (the latter task is done only on Mondays, so I was unlucky in that respect). I was stupid enough to close the various logs at 11:15pm (writing that they'd been closed at 11:59pm), and found out later that the most prudent thing to do was to close them the next morning! It's all because of the stupid ISO, I tell you. It requires us to do so much paperwork and track a myriad of unimportant and trivial details excessively often. Not that anyone cares - I suspect everyone just writes the "correct" things on the various checklists with nary an effort, so all the meticulous records are all faked. It's rather ridiculous holding a military organisation to civilian standards, I must say. In future, they should get newly posted personnel to shadow others while they do duty so they won't screw up so much their first times...

Though during my duty I felt that doing guard duty was better save for the air-con and the radio (tuned, of course to either 88.9FM or 92.4FM), I think the next time I do duty I'll be able to finish early and slack for the rest of the day. Yeh. Though now I know why people like being on course - the lack of responsibility is somewhat invigorating.

Through the drudgery of it all, however, there was one bright light. None other than Private Lun Yaodong, Clarence! Yes, this irrepressible personage showed up on Monday complaining of chest pains - evidently doing light fatigue work for National Day stresses him so, but he still has time, through all the strain, to spike his hair - so he was strapped to the ECG machine. What should I have done? Used the rectal thermometer on him? Shot him with a 16 gauge venula? I was siting beside him and he saw me smiling, and asked me why I was "sniggering". Whereupon I ran behind the curtain to hide my mirth.

I asked Yaodong how come he was so lucky that he got posted to Sungei Gedong Camp, HQ/NDP, and he replied that, "I'm always lucky". He asked if I could pass IPPT and when he found out I could pass but one station, he said that "Maybe we can go running together one day". And just before leaving, he asked me to take care. Aww. Actually I realised that this is the first time I've actually spoken to him. He does seem nicer than last time, though. But he's as chao keng as ever - he appeared again Tuesday night complaining of asthma. When he was sent to Tengah Air Base, the Medical Officer wanted him to be IVed but he declined. Bah. And due to his constant appearances, he's reviled among many of the medics for being a skiver and a troublemaker! For tales of Yaodong during his SIT Test, you can read Shawn's account.

The robotic (both in accent and delivery) chinese that all people of Caucasian blood seem to have is really irritating. People of Chinese descent aren't stereotyped as speaking in a Cheena way in Western shows, why should Chinese shows be so parochial and backward in their attitudes?

I heard a radio ad for the latest edition of Cleo, where there was a spread of 100 hunks. Oh well. At last it's time to make their ogling a publicly known and admitted fact I suppose! And speaking of Cleo, PJ Girl's article for Cleo will be in the August issue! I should go check it out. But how much does Cleo cost anyway?

I was making appointments for various servicemen at Hospitals, and all of the 4-5 people I spoke to were females! What does this say about gender biased hiring or position allocation for the front end of organisations?

I saw a drawer in the documentation room that was labelled "Nineki's Cabinet". Laying aside the fact that it should've been labelled "Nineki's Cabinet", I set out to investigate why it was named so oddly. Asking someone who'd taken a bottle of F&N Orange from it, I got the reply that, "That's for me to know and for you not to find out". Opening the drawer later, I found nothing out of the ordinary except for the bottle of F&N Orange. Another mystery that will go unsolved!

Some of the powers that be are playing with my rank. One day, in the Routine Orders, I was mentioned 2 or 3 times - and was a Corporal. And in the meal file that we're supposed to sign to mark our consumption of meals, but which is signed on behalf of everyone by the first to consume his meal - even if no one else turns up in the end, I am unranked. Maybe, in their records, I've ORDed! Hurrah!

While I was reading the Routine Orders one day, the Company Sergeant Major came by and advised me to downgrade: "Good for you, good for the unit". Haha. I have a feeling that I'll get injured during all the Remedial Trainings. My MO's said he might downgrade me, so let's see what happens.

On Tuesday, our night off was taken away because we had to do paperwork! Gah. Well I think that beat sitting in the parade square during "Movie Night", where the movie in question was enthralling - a video recording of the last half dress rehearsal for NDP.

We had a SOC test on Wednesday morning. Erk. My number tag was taken away at the first obstacle, the low wall, because I couldn't cross it. Aww. My muscles - shoulder, arm and stomach - still hurt. Erk.

After SOC, I was hanging around the Armskote to send my arms in when I got to talking with a disruptee. He'd dyed hair, and had disrupted to study Accountancy at NTU. When I told him that at least one of my friends was going to pursue the same course at the same place, he said to "ask him to think again". Haha.

I visited Somchaya's den of unspeakable pleasures again! Yeh.

Zhang and I were having a debate (via SMS, of all media!) about free will and whether the situations we find ourselves in are due to God's will and we should accept it and live happily (re indenture of course) - if you're a child soldier, does that mean that He means for you to be one and you should go about your job with zeal? In the end, he either conceded my point, gave up or decided it was a waste of too much money :)

I was tasked, with Andrew, to cover the Batallion Run at East Coast, the games following that and the NDP System Run at the National Stadium. After coming back from my wednesday night off, I was rather drained, and waking up at 4:45am, with less than 5 hours of sleep, didn't help. During the run, I was stationed in the safety rover, which was parked near the halfway point of the route. And promptly fell asleep.

A Racial Harmony Day message was read out by Commanding Officer, about how the SAF promotes racial harmony. Rather tall stuff, considering there are no Malays in my unit, or indeed in the whole of Armour, Artillery, the Commandos, the Air Force and the Navy.

Later, during the games segment, they played "Pushball", a game involving 2 teams of 30 people each pushing a chin-high inflated ball around. It was rather violent and reminiscent of rugby - when the whistle was blown, people would run from each side of the field and crash into the giant ball. At many points, I saw people going under and the ball rolling over them. All in all, it looked like a rugby scrum with more people and a bigger ball! And all the while, I had in mind one of the silliest cheers ever - "Push Raffles Push!". Though it can't beat the "Oei, oei, sat sat" rubbish.

Later, we had some time before the system run commenced, so we lingered at Kallang Leisure Park, which I believe we're all sick of by now. But it beats the stadium, so. After we had our lunch, Andrew went to catch Forty Winks in the ambulance while I sat down around Leisure Park and read the Economist. While there, I noticed that Burger King has updated the look of their menus. Sneakily and oh-so-conveniently, the prices have gone up in tandem with the change. And the Broiler has vanished, to be replaced by a "Chicken Whopper Jr", or the like.

Before the System Run, the CHIJ kiddies were running around practicing their item. None of their T-Shirts were tucked in, but that didn't get them scolded. As they ran onto the tarpaulin, they shrieked and yelped, sounding like birds! And because they moved slowly, they got shouted at quite a bit by their teachers. I'm surprised they didn't cry, actually.

Andrew'd bought the New Paper, that trashy tabloid, to read, though in the end he mostly read his manga. I briefly browsed through, and learnt that NDP volunteers are paid $5/day, get Haagen Dazs ice cream, tim sum and get to win prizes in lucky draws. Gah.

For the Batallion run earlier, we'd been made to collect ice to treat injuries, when it was actually the job of the QM department. Of course, this created a moral hazard, and indeed, many people attained injuries which were suitably treated with ice. Later at Kallang, Andrew and I went to Shop And Save to buy drinks (including a carton of Florida's Natural!) and confectionary to put inside the ice box, so we had a constant supply of refreshments during the system run. It was then that I tried, for the first time, Dad's Old Fashioned Root Beer, which Tim had lambasted. It was okay actually, better than he had described. Though A&W's is richer, more flavourful and overall better. I also bought Allswell Rose Mineral Water Tea, but I think they overdid the citric acid because it tasted like Apple Tea with a hint of rose.

As with the last time, canoeists trooped in to change out of their wet clothing. SRJC has a shirt which says, "Veni, Vidi, Vici", the connection to sailing of which I don't see. And a RJ girl was wearing a "Raffles Dragonboat" T-Shirt - don't tell me they have a Dragonboat team now?

Bored, I SMSed part of the lyrics to "We Will Get There" to various people. Their responses were either along the lines of, "that sucks" or "what the hell is that". Looks like the media blitz isn't working.

When we got back to camp, I was confronted with the task of having to finish filling in the list of >250 names that I'd though I'd escaped previously... and I have finished finally! Flipping through dockets, I realise that very few people are Rh-negative. Though I have no idea what being Rhesus negative does. And on a few dockets was written "Social conduct dis-mild". Odd. Well, I don't have that on mine, so. And one person is allergic to, of all things, sulphuric acid!

Folie has been complaining that I've been going around smiling all the time and attributes it to RJC stress. Maybe I really am going crazy.

Tentatively, I have christened the Mandarin-English hybrid spoken in Singapore "Mandlish". And perhaps one reason why it exists is the fashion for Chinese Pop songs to include English words, phrases, clauses or even verses!

I am going to stay in HQ, yay! Though some say that the Company line is not as bad as it is made out to be - Lion is quite slack apparently. The downside is that I am to replace Yiliang as the Documentation I/C and an MOPA. Woo. Of course this is assuming I don't get posted out. Or get injured during the weekly SOC and IPPTt tests, and the probably daily RTs and get injured.

Our little Australia sojourn will be cut short - it is confirmed. So it'll be less than 2 weeks - yay! And it will include a 2 day "educational tour" too. And for the Army Half Marathon, we will be running 10km and not 21km, because since we're busy preparing for NDP, we don't have the opportunity to "train up".

I went for dinner with my parents after booking out, at Captain's Table at Raffles Marina. And I heard a familiar tune being piped in. After a while, I realised it was the tune to the "Chao keng ah chao keng ah chao keng chao keng. Chao keng ah chao keng ah chao keng chao keng. You say I chao keng you say I chao keng. Actually everybody chao keng chao keng hey!" army song. I should've realised that army people were not capable of composing even a tune so simple as this!


"[On someone who's seemingly been hyped terribly beyond the honour due to her as a published poet] What's so great about her? All she did was write a stupid book called, 'Katong and Other Poems'"


"[On RGS Girls] B(R)id(G)et Jone(S)... bridget jones is fat, neurotic, ambitious, strangely likeable. familiar?... likeable sometimes lah. not most. i mean c'mon, they're weird" (sms)

"SAF teach me to be racist (has taught)"

"You just bring your A4-sized photograph (passport)"

"You prefer me to call you Shuqi or Gabriel?"

"[On his reservist briefing] The minute I put on No 4 I felt my brains dissolve and an overwhelming desire to sleep." (sms)

One guy found my weblog while searching for the lyrics to the infantry song. I was rather amused, and found that nowhere on the web could they be found, so I have reproduced them here.

Background information: The infantry song is a song that recruits in BMTC, Pulau Tekong, have to learn to sing on their Passing Out Parade day. It was introduced the batch before mine, and the tune was most probably stolen from some other song. Apparently the lyrics were written by a Lieutenant Colonel Gabriel Chan.

"We are the bedrock of our army, wanting to keep our people free.
Committed to the independence of our nation, we are the men from the Infantry.
There will never be a mountain too high, or a route too tough for us.
We are about to rule the day and the darkest night, we will never rest till the wrong is right.

From the land, air and sea, we will strike our enemies.
They have called us 'The Queen Of The Battlefield'
We are brothers-in-arms, we are brothers proud to be.
We are the first, the one and only infantry.

We are a special band of soldiers, raised to guard our nation's shores.
We base our lives upon a set of 7 values, to defend our nation's shores.
And when our country says she needs us, we are always there by her side.
We will protect the lives of every Singaporean, for Singapore we will give our lives


Musical Interlude + Monologue (2nd Verse)


So the Infantry have a song, and so do the Medics. How about the Clerks? Or the Storemen? My favourite of the posters depicting the various branches of the SAF is "Logistics - we supply the Army".

Just what's the difference between all the different ISOs? Is 9002 superior to 9000? And 10000 superior to 1000? Or something like that.
My life is organised!

Schedule for tomorrow:
9-11am church
11-12pm brunch in college (provided the kitchen is open)

12-2pm continue unpacking or nap
2-6/thereabouts pm choir practice
6-6.30 pm dinner
6.30-11 pm sleep, 'net, read, unpack (in order of descending preference)
11 pm sleep

Michael just emailed me from Kiel. Yay!

I'm such a slob. Under the pretext of saving money i walked to La Porchetta's to purchase a large pizza for $8- half for my lunch, half for my dinner. *Resolves never to eat solely pizza again. "Man shall not live on .... " Even if china bar's twice the price ($7/$8 for a meal, but their portions are quite filling!). I still can't forget chaowan's comment on china bar- "China bar? Must be lousy food... i don't like the way china chefs cook food"~ (for those who don't know, china bar is this nice small restaurant just outside uni that sells malaysian hawker-style dishes- rice and noodles!!!).

Thereis just came to visit my place. It's raining! And i didn't even notice until she told me. Actually it's just drizzling.

Maybe i should call heather- to find out if her offer of leasing her mobile phone while she's away is still open. I hope she isn't already in london.

Haha.... i just realized my whanging headaches this afternoon set in at the time APM was starting in arr-jay-see. Residual memories from last year ... or psychic transferral from pj girl?

Friday, July 19, 2002

Yay! Woohoo! DumDeeDum! You are Spaceman Spiff!
Zounds! You are the intrepid Spaceman Spiff, the engaging explorer ensconsed in an unending universe of exotic and evil extraterrestrials! You're brave, but you should give that dictionary a rest.
Take the What Calvin are You? Quiz by contessina_2000@yahoo.com!
I have a sudden urge to share a moving experience aboard the plane. I watched a French and Saunders' comedy, a spoof of Lord of the rings- Fellowship of the rings- and itwas so funny, i kept on giggling (or maybe it was the white wine) until the german lady next to me tapped on the shoulder, gave me a hard stare and spoke slowly and clearly in german-accented english "I Vant to Sleep"

It was hilarious! They couldn't decide on how to stimulate a battlefield with half a million soldiers being killed, so they lined the crudely created battlefield with ants, then killed them by blasting them with a big hairdryer. And then gandalf ("Grandalf") drove into the countryside in his little cart only to meet Tellytubbies waving at him from the picturesque hills. And the hobbit children were singing "Grandalf, we love you... won't you come to play!" And grandalf fired a parting rocket at them so they ran away screaming! Then frodo ("dodo") baggins (who was reading Harry potter 4) said "Bilbo doesn't want to see any well-wishers or malaysians today!" to which grandalf replied "How about old friends or award winning actors?"

When they got to rivendell dodo baggins revealed to grandalf that he had acted as Harry potter too (and donned the glasses!) to which all the other actors congratulated him on his *splendid acting*. When the company got to the Lady of the wood, galadriel showed Frodo what he could become with the ring (A Bono "Save the world" music video) and galadriel went "... i shall be a Queeeeeen" and did the dumb arms -flapping thing... and was revealed as a blobby thing singing "Murder on the dance floor"!

Um. I don't see how that's moving, but ah well. I was moved.

Tried to do a search on hair clay on google. Found this instead. Erm.
... caressed his hair. Clay moved, and their lips met, bodies straining
together. Lester's tongue bathed Clay's lips, moistening them. ...
16k - Cached - Similar pages

Ugggghhhhh why does so many search engine hits have the words "hair" and "clay" together in instances such as above

This is rather disturbing - Yahoo! Auctions (Singapore): Uniforms

And more disturbing search engine queries:

"rgs girls singapore nude", "st.theresa's sexy college girls", "indonesian rape xxx vcds", "chu mei feng fuck", "keluar baris" and "tekong bmtc tips".

I might add, don't consider any mobile phone other than a Nokia:)

Oh, as an afterthought, the word of the day is: "peripatetic"

What the hell is "hair clay"?

I asked around my office and someone queried: "Is it some kind of hair-loss product? Some kind of clay you slather over your bald spots to look like hair? Or is it hair that has the consistency of clay?"

It's mildly distressing to see strong, virile males(cough) so fixated on cosmetic products.

Andrew - when I was there, I never considered any alternative to Optus yes! - I can't tell you how many 19 minute calls I made everyday to other Optus subscribers between 8-12:) Thankfully, I left way before the yes! Time promotional period expired. Generally though, most mobile phones rates are financially comparable unless you go for very specific IDD plans or those suburban-cell/region-cell special offers, which aren't worth the hassle.

However, you should consider getting prepaid only if you're the type of guy who receives calls more than making them.

And as for anime, not being into "big robots gawking around" and "gory stuff" seriously restricts your choices somewhat - but I suspect you'd be the type who would get off on drama/comedy series or decent mid-range action...

For movies or one-shots - I'd suggest milder offerings like Wings of Honnemaise, Nausicaa: Valley of Wind, Castle of Cogliostro, or the surprisingly whimsical Porco Russo(all of these are widely available at the various anime stores around) - these are good story-oriented animes with understated violence and not too much emphasis on technology. If you want to break into anime series, that demands a fair amount of time - here are a few suggestions.

Ruoroni Kenshin is a very common starting point for most neonate anime fans, but it's a LONG series (90+ episodes!). Start with the first 5-10 episodes to decide if you like the overall feel - it's got decent characterization, typical anime slapstick humour, good visual production values, and the story arcs are interesting without being too heavy. Fushiigi Yuugi and Slayers are another couple of decent titles in the medieval/magic vein. For really less serious stuff, go for Ranma 1/2 or Akazukin Cha Cha!

For comedies and drama series - I think you might enjoy Golden Boy, but it deals a little too frankly with some adolescent themes for your puritanical tastes. Most animes do, in one way or another, so it's difficult to recommend something decidedly inoffensive. Try Love Hina, or You're Under Arrest!

Japan Hobby over at the Chinatown shopping center(the one beneath the Chinese cinema) offers a very comprehensive range, and getting an account isn't too expensive. What I did was to band together with a few anime fans and borrow about 10-15 tapes a week on one account and pass them around. I'm sure you can find fellow enthusiasts there.

If you want to break into the hobby at a more serious level, head over to the Melb Uni anime society - WWWA(Weekly Watchers of Wonderful Anime). They have regular screenings twice a week(at Lowe and Latham theaters last year, but not sure where they've moved to now), and their weekly screenings are generally milder fare for obvious reasons. There are lots of very nice people there who will be willing to offer suggestions. Check out their screening times from the Student Union's daily event sheet.
Ha. OCF camp's starting in 3 hours plus. heh. But i can't go for it- am dead tired (i had a baaaaad plane trip, still feel like puking, movies didn't play properly) and anyway i have to be around for first choir practice on sunday. Hrrmphh..... that means all the ocfers won't be around the whole weekend. Hrmmmph.

Discovered: Seth green is astonishingly short at 5 foot 4"!!
Got the green light from parents to obtain a mobile phone. So ... limitations being
a) i don't already own a mobile so i'll have to sign up for a plan (2-years) to obtain a free one, since purchasing the cheapest one over-the-counter works out to over $200.
b) must be cheap cheap cheap!

This is rubbishly confusing.
Orange, a subset of Yes Optus, runs a CDMA network with possibly the cheapest per minute pricing. $5 subscription fee, with no free talktime, and flagfall (connection fee for every successful call) of 20c and 18c per 30 seconds. SMSes are 22c.
No free phones- but i can get a relatively un-ugly phone for $218 or $288.
Downside: CDMA phone would be useless in singapore.

Per second billing
Peak/off-peak separate charges. Off-peak is 8pm to 8am on normal days, and all sunday.
Connection fee of $71.50
Contract term of 2 years.

$17 per month plan:
Peak- 74.3 cents per 30 sec, flag fall 28.6c
Off-peak- 64.4c, flagfall 15.4c

$22 per month plan:
Peak- 53.9c per 30 sec, flagfall 28.5c
Off-peak- 20.4c, flagfall 15.4c

$33 per month plan:
Peak-40.1c per 30 sec, flagfall 28.6c
Off-peak- 20.4c, 15.4c

Prepaid: 30c per 30 sec. I think.

Yes optus!
Rollover unused talktime
Perk: choose from
a) Call any mobile network or landline, anywhere in Australia for just 30c for 10 minutes per call, 8pm to 7am every day.
b) Free calls from one Optus Mobile Digital to another, 8pm to midnight every night for the first 20 minutes per call within Australia. 'yes' Time is a special promotion available until 31 December 2002.
(b) is a big draw to my friends here- most of them subscribe to optus because of it.

$22 per month plan
$15 credit
Flat rate of 51.7c per 30sec, flagfall 24.2c

$33 per month plan
$33 credit
Flate rate of 44c per 30sec, flagfall 24.2c

If i subscribe to the $33 plan for 2 years i get the polyphonic panasonic GD75 free!
Then again i hardly know anything about different handphone models. Sigh.
Well, i'm headed back to australia later this afternoon. Had a good break this time, accomplished many things i'd been wanting to do for a long time, had R & R, spent a week in my homeland.

*well* Actually i meant to post this just before leaving, but the computer was taking a long time to load, my mum wanted me to show her how to do some more stuff on the computer, I wanted to go down to holland village to purchase hair accessories (no, i couldn't find anywhere selling hair clay~ decided against getting L'oreal's "Out of Bed" putty and eventually got Gatsby matt/non-shiny wax).
Just found my way back to ormond college, and again I am the only one in the computer lab at, erm, 3.01 am. My room phone's not working (another reason why i should get a handphone~ i mean mobile!) so i'm here on the pretense of emailing my parents and brother that i've arrived safely. Supposed to contact albert when i got back (told everyone i expected to be back in hostel by 12 something) but i'm pretty sure he's sleeping now.

Could i get some recommendations about anime from u guys? I've only watched a handful of - mainly movies- but i'd like to watch more. Enjoyed I'm not so much into slam dunk kinda things or things involving big robots gawking around (okay that *didn't* come out right)- or gory stuff - suggest some titles?

And i never got around to asking u, gabriel, what will happen to your 1 cent coin collectio now?

I wanted to put up a long post abt sunday night but i realized i wouldn't be able to bear with it. So.

Thursday, July 18, 2002

Today's word for the day is: "frenulum" (again, do be sure to look this one up:)

Again, I'm still trolling my daily experiences for interesting soundbites which I can display here. As an alternative, however, Gabriel was kind enough to let me know through diplomatic channels that (sic) "Angst is permitted, so long as it isn't the sole content of the post." Shall take that under advisement if I decide to utilise this blog as a more conventional whinge facility.

A friend of mine once noted that Gabriel seems to either have a eidetic memory, or way too much time on his hands to take down the copious notes he does. Certainly the experiences he relates are an acquired taste in literary terms - most of it, when experienced, is perceived as a dull, everyday affair. But when he writes it out in those full-on paragraph after paragraph of obsessively detailed recollection, it takes on a certain dry, whimsical quality to it. Granted, it *does* get terribly hard to read after a while(for which, Gabriel, I commend your clever use of paragraphing to break up the flow into interesting segments), but a lot of the value to readers is divided into:

a) From non-NS people, like myself, who find it a terribly amusing insight into just what a ridiculous institution military life, particularly *conscripted* military life in Singapore is. This rapidly pales after a while though, and I still find it somehow more amusing when related through the oral tradition, as opposed to the blogging one. Still, Gabriel does a pretty good job of keeping the narrative flow and the moments when he lets his personal feelings and prejudices creep into his recollections are often the best part. Actually, you should include some of our discussions about the political purposes of NS into this narrative:)

b) From NS-people who find the raconteur value of shared suffering and empathy. (A phenomenon I have witnessed often as, increasingly, all my Singaporean friends do *nothing* but talk about NS whenever they meet.) But some NS-men I know have said that Gabriel is (sic) "boh liao" for regaling a lot of the pointless details he does. Then again, it's *his* blog, and it makes sense that upwards of 80% of the content in this blog should be his. (I did a proportional word count)

Okay,. now that I've exercised my long-dormant prac crit skills -

Today my department head said that our new motto is "We are the House of Pain." In case anyone wants to know, I'm currently in the Risk Management department of a merchant bank, which basically entails comparing a lot of numbers with a lot of other numbers and setting policies to define the rules by which we compare these numbers. If certain numbers don't match other numbers, we go out and ask irritating questions of the people who actually make money for the bank - the derivatives traders, the treasury desks, the fixed-income instruments salespeople, etc etc. Basically, we're supposed to stop the future Nick Leesons from ruining this fine institution. In the process however, we make a lot of enemies. For instance, there was a time when, in a flash of bizarre literary acumen, the group treasurer quoted Juvenal to us: "Quis custodes ipsos custodiet", in the midst of a particularly heated discussion about the use of funds-transfer-pricing to prevent departments from masking their profits and PDS(private debt securities) valuation. Luckily I was there to translate on the behalf of my beleaguered colleagues, and so help negate somewhat our reputation as ill-educated miscreants bent on interfering with the honest, productive labour of our front-line profit centers. (Incidentally, the group treasurer never got a university degree, but was forced to do his MBA by upper management to maintain a certain professional image)

I previously compared my old job to the camaraderie of being in a distant garrison, fighting off barbarian hordes everyday, and dealing with a relentless, grasping emperor bent on levying harsh profits from our protectorate, while leaving us the dirty job of doing the actual collection and pacifying the natives. Well, in comparison, this job is kind of like being a mathematical Gestapo for the whole empire - quantifying, reporting, monitoring, surveiling, assessing, and interrogating all facets of an integrated empire. Certain similarities abound -most notably the sense of cohesion as a unit that arises from the travail of shared suffering. Not to mention the fact that the people we monitor are among the highest paid in the bank. We're talking twice-a-year salary adjustments here. One of them is even an ex-Miss Malaysia(one of the better-looking ones from the 80s). And how they hate us.

Curiously, the manner of their hatred tells me something about the occasionally paradoxical nature of human behaviour in a professional context. Most of the people in my department get along very well with the people we surveil on a personal level - going out together, having drinks, playing squash(there's a full sports facility on the 7th and 8th floors of this building - but it's terribly unsanitary), but when it falls to the professional context, it's a ruthless, no-holds barred guerilla war comprised of sniping memos, factional squabbling, petty politics and sometimes outright denunciation. Yet all this animus curiously fades away after working hours - I myself often amble in to the dealing room for a chat with the traders to pick up stock tips, watch CNN, or to simply further furnish my meager financial mathematics knowledge.

I work much lesser hours compared to my previous job, and my colleagues are more interesting to talk to on most levels compared to my previous job - Hasan being the notable example. Incidentally, Hasan, whom some might remember me regaling as an ex-money-launderer and arms smuggler, appears to have resigned his security guard position as well and gone back into his old trade. He emailed me from Amsterdam a week ago describing his experiences with hash cafes and making vague references to the Tora Bora region(I kid you not). I wish him all the best. Digression aside, however, the people here are mostly in the young-ish, educated yuppie mould - from the guy next to me who has his own elaborate Excel spreadsheet model for futures trading, to the British-educated LTTE-supporting(he showed us a rather disturbing Tamil Tigers fund-raising promo video which featured suicide bombers going for their last supper with the LTTE leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran) middle-aged Ceylonese guy who speaks a bit like Nehru.

My exact job focus is to automate many of the (extremely) manual processes by which all this number-crunching, comparison, and reporting is currently done. There's a good deal of sophisticated technology here, actually, but it's woefully under-utilised and the IT people downstairs are running ragged becuase they perform their function for the whole financial-services-conglomerate of which the merchant bank is the largest(by far) component. Unfortunately, the people in my department seem to have overestimated my IT skills(at least when they hired me, I think) - or at least my Microsoft Office skills, and thus far I've done a reasonable job of shooting down those expectations when they come to be with some obscure formatting issue. As a side-note, my Excel skills have shot up exponentially since working here - I live, breathe, and eat in a world of macros, charts, and formulae. A lot of my job thus far involves stating the obvious - along the lines of "we could do this faster if we wrote a macro for that." or "maybe we could do this step before that step." Still, the pace is pretty slack most of the time, and I've been given a list of projects and the liberty to pick and fulfil them at my own pace. This lassiez-faire attitude prevails mainly because there is this constant, messianically promised technological change over the horizon that will solve all our problems - so in the interim we carry out minor fire-fights and pot-hole filling. A colleague who has been working here for 17 years says that as long as she remembers, almost all of her projects and assigned work has fallen into the latter category, constantly living with the promised utopian hope of a killer new system....and failing to deliver. Pretty much like the role of religion in my life.

Overall, as I mentioned, the pros outweigh the cons of the jobs here, if it only weren't for the horrific traffic. It takes me half an hour to move 250m from my office during peak hour(the building abuts a major trunk road in the heart of the city).

Am basically living the life of a freshie in the city, with a reasonable career prospects, occasional late nights of work, regular pub-crawls, and mid-afternoon karaoke sessions. (There's a 10RM a head lunch-time special in this karaoke lounge next door.) Another advantage now is that I have access to a far greater variety of food now(*shitloads* of good cornershops, stalls, restaurants, within walking distance), and I no longer have to take my meals alone. For the last two weeks, I've actually had different things for lunch everyday - a totally novel experience so far.

Other little eccentricities of city-living including parking in an unpaved open lot run by a toothless old man whose idea of parking spaces is to point your car in the direction of any open space. This space, I might add is near one of the densely forested pockets you can still incongrously find in and around downtown KL, and it's next to a bunch of deserted pre-war shophouse lots which seemed to have served as a storyboard for Mambo(the Australian fashion label with the .. weird .. surrealist aesthetic - you should know what I'm talking about, Andrew)-inspired graffiti. As a result, walking to my car after 8 pm can be a slightly morbid experience, particularly when I park near the wall that boasts a lovingly distorted, Rorschach-type mural of anatomically-correct pelvises.

I seriously wonder where my life heads from here. (WARNING: This is the bit where the angst comes in). I did a lifestyle audit the other day, and checked against it for compliance with my goals as of a year ago, when I started worrying about graduation, work, and that terrifying thing called a future. Here's how far reality complies with my intended aims:

a) I have a stable and reasonably well-paying job(by local standards for a fresh graduate with mediocre grades)
b) I have a(reasonably) interesting job in the finance industry with (reasonable) career prospects if I work hard.
c) I have a job with acceptable hours(get up at 7:30am, usually home around 7:30pm)
d) Weekends off(!) - compared to the previous horrifying experience of spending weekends at apartment showrooms trying to scavenge for loans from wealthy customers who pay for expensive condominiums in cash.
e) I have greater access to movies, animes, vcds, games. The sole exception to this happy state is *books*, which are decidedly cheaper, but with a much more limited range. Still, I generally can find most of what I'm looking for, and the local Kinokuniya is pretty good with orders - although I do miss the specialist and antique bookstores in Australia. Surprisingly, the VCD pirates here pirate an *astonishing* range of movies - I've found Sundance and Cannes-nominated indie flicks at roadside stalls, and ironically, these tend to be of better quality rips than the usual head-bob-shadows that most blockbusters comprise of. Am gradually making the transition to DVD, but mostly for selected titles in which I *really* want to get into in terms of production, thematic commentary, etc etc... prime examples to date include the Matrix Special Edition DVD, Fight Club, and Memento. Incidentally, Fight Club and Memento are my absolute hands-down favourite movies of all time.
f) I have a reasonable amount of time in the evenings to do what I want, and reasonable privacy within limits
g) I have a car. Better still, I have a CD-burner(after years of being harangued by everyone for not getting one:), and I can equip my car with my own compilations at last! There is a curious emotional investment into creating the perfect compilation for the perfect occasion - ref: Nick Hornby's High Fidelity.
h) I have credit cards. Actually, this may be a major con in the long run. *glumly*
i) I am in a functional, albeit emotionally and financially trying, long-distance relationship with a significant other who understands(mostly) and respects(barely) me and my numerous issues.
j) Food is way better here, and cheaper too.
k) Much living expenses subsidised by living with parents(notable exceptions being long-distance phone bill, and car petrol:)
l) (Afterthought) Easier access to cheap pornography
m) (Afterthought x2) Mother kindly paid for a subscription to The Economist. Its dry wit and insightful handling of esoteric, yet significant topics have provided much good reading material over the past 6 months.

a) I have virtually no friends here, save for my roommate from Melbourne, and seeing each other day-in, day-out for three years made us resolve to start seeing other people when we got back here. Nothing to do with personal animosity or our little domestic squabbles such as his horror at the bathroom tiles turning from porcelain to sepia in the month he was away at Ayers Rock. But we simply have different lives now. He works in one of the Big Four accounting firms, and hangs out with a bunch of equally young, CPA-hungry auditors of the same age demographic. They go hiking, island-resort trips, watch movies, etc... In contrast, I'm the youngest person in my department, the only fresh graduate they've hired in years, and one of the three unmarried people. Not exactly much room for socialising there, other than steadily exploring together all the various mamak and corner coffeeshops of downtown KL during lunchtime.
b) Am still living with my family, and all the attendant complications, restrictions, demands on time, intrusions on privacy(particularly between 8-10pm), sharing of my PC with mother, issues with freedom of movement, squabbles over behaviour accountability, and various vestigial adolescent neuroses too pathetic to mention here.
c) Absence of broadband(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) I HATE SINGLE DIGIT KB/S DOWNLOAD SPEEDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
d) Financial independence still crippled by slowly servicing existing massive Australian-dollar denominated debts.
e) Can't smoke in bedroom any longer(a strange amenity I never really appreciated until I got back home)
f) I have a difficult relationship with a far more successful Significant Other which encompasses a vast social, academic, and future-potential gap.Not to mention the geographic one, which looks to be maintained for at least a few more years.
g) Lack of sex. (it IS one of the basic human needs, you know.)
h) TRAFFIC. The relationship between the time I leave home and the time taken to get to work is NOT a linear curve. It's a dizzyingly exponential upward line in which leaving the house by a difference of five minutes can add up to 20 minutes extra travel time. I kid you not - I have done studies.
i) Still can't afford the killer PC I had lovingly planned to build once I had an income.
j) No more opportunities for killer alcohol binges with friends(no big loss, though, when measured against the puking, the cleaning up, the waking up next to a dead cat with your hair shaved off and your whole body reeking of soya sauce, Dijon mustard, Singer lubricating oil, and vinegar....)
k) Major internal psychological issues with attaining "ZEN". Recently I've tried to cast my life in terms of attaining little, interim, context-specific victories as opposed to larger, more futile dreams for abstracts such as happiness, success, etc. "As Good As It Gets" thinking. For the most part, I have had a pretty good success rate (hacking my DVD-ROM to be region-free, adding a few trinkets like an embossed pewter mug as decor for my Spartan bedroom...), but for some reason I still find it difficult to still my transient cravings for things such as a BMW M3, being able to regularly afford dinners at Kingfisher(a top-notch seafood restaurant in the region of 400RM a head, but well worth every sen!), having a philosopher/lingerie model life-partner, having stacks of cash piled up in drawers(which I am told my former employer's younger son has in his apartment), and other base cravings, some of which are antithetical to the kind of person I like to think I've pruned myself to be. This kind of wild, endemic dissatisfaction with one's state in life is seriously hampering my ability to deal with people(and was made far, far worse in my previous job when I had to attend to customers opening 200K trust accounts for their 2 year old children). Am still fighting a struggle to re-hit being (sic) "fucking Zen" about my whole life. Stillness within!
l) My writing skills and vocabulary have noticeably degenerated.

(Incidentally, anyone ever heard of the republic of Bashkortostan? Sounds like something from an issue of Mad magazine.)

And, finally, in response to Tahara

I like Rahxephon for the aesthetics, but it falls too much into the archetype pioneered by Neon Genesis - big semi-organic mecha(oh, how many people forget that Guyver was the first truly semi-organic mecha that made it big:), depressed whackos, mysterious surreal shit, etc etc. It works sometimes if they have good production values(such as Gasaraki), or take the comedic approach(which Dual Parallel does), but often it fails - which is why you get draggy rip-offs like Argento Soma.

Incidentally, I should clarify - I watched Trigun a while ago, but in Chinese subtitles. Chinese illiteracy is a serious impediment to anime watching in SE Asia, particularly if you don't have broadband to download and actually have to buy pirated box sets from Hong Kong. Also, my first viewing of Cowboy Bebop was *very* disjoint, episodes here and there(same with Kenshin and Slayers), so I finally got all 26 episodes to watch from back-to-back.

I actually watched the first 6 eps of Infinite Ryvius(up to the point where they took off, and Blue got hold of the only gun), and I'm told it pans out like Lord of the Flies meets Red Dwarf. Intriguing way to put it - but it has a very jazzy, dreamy sound-track, and it certainly has a *huge* cast of characters. However, I've put in on hold until I can assemble a full english-fansubbed copy, which may take a while. Need to prioritise.

Prominent animes I enjoyed lately are Vandread 2(arguably the best CGI in the industry) and Full Metal Panic. The latter, at least visually, seems to be an odd combination in neoclassical anime; a strange melange of both You're Under Arrest!(for the female characters particularly) and Nadesicco(the crew of the Tuatha de Danaan - a nice little nod to Celtic myth:). Oh yes- Serial Experiment Lain - which falls squarely into the "weird" category - and is seriously lacking in the translation:) Nonetheless, the idea of homogeneity of ego through Internet interaction strikes a certain bizarre chord with me.

AXN here shows one series I particularly want to watch: Now and Then; Here and Now - mainly because the story sounds fairly intriguing....

Basically, however, I've seriously cut back on my anime watching time, and decided to focus, in this order: computer games, books, movies, anime. These days I only watch anime after quick weekeend trips to Singapore to stock up on burned CDs from my broadband-equipped comrades. With regards to the stuff you watch - I generally don't get off on dramas, sports, or pure comedies or anything too rooted in contemporary reality(which is why, no matter how hard I try, I can't get into Love Hina, His and Hers Circumstances, Golden Boy, GTO, Initial-Z, Slam Dunk, Fruit Basket, etc etc), but I've heard good things about Angelic Layer. Yu Yu Hakoushu.. well - the artwork seems a bit too oddly old-fashioned for me, for some reason, and the story a tad too hokey - I'd rather watch 3x3 Eyes if I want to watch undead heroes:). However, am still actually faintly interested in some classic stuff like the old Captain Harlock OAVs, El Hazard, and even Orange Road Kimagure.

Erm - as for Neverwinter Nights, I'm still squarely in the single-player campaign. Having played computer games since the time when you loaded up MS-DOS first and when PCs didn't have a hard drive, I've found it quite difficult picking up on multiplayer stuff. Even tried Everquest, and never really worked out. In addition, a dial-up connection inhibits my online gaming tendencies even further, and most of my bandwidth is needed for Kazaa downloads of porn and mp3s.

I want a PDA. I want an I-Paq, actually. Or a Treo. Or even an Accompli. I also want a Casio Exilim(digicam AND mp3 player in a *tiny* package - http://www.dpreview.com/news/0203/02031402casioexilim.asp). I have to get over my obsessive fixation with consumer electronics as a metaphor for all the things my life isn't - efficient, high-tech, slick, and shiny.

*mutters Tylerian mantras* "The things you own, end up owning you. Self-improvement is masturbation. Self-destruction is the answer. It's only after you've lost everything, are you free to do anything. May I never be content. Our Great War is a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate, so we can buy shit we don't need. We were raised on television to believe that we'd all be millionaires, movie gods, rock stars, but we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off. We're designed to be hunters and we're in a society of shopping. There's nothing to kill anymore, there's nothing to fight, nothing to overcome, nothing to explore. In that social emasculation this everyman is created. Reject the basic assumptions of civilization, especially the importance of material possessions. I feel like putting a bullet between the eyes of every panda that won't screw to save its species. I want to open the dump valves on oil tankers and smother all the French beaches I'd never see. I want to breathe smoke. You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else."

"Losing all hope is freedom."

As for umami - check out http://www.nature.com/neuro/press_release/nn0200.html

Okay, I've just spent a few hours appearing productive in front of my PC at work. Time to knock off now - and of all the little blessings I've received to date, one of the *best* is finally being in a job with Internet access.
Welcome back to Balderdash, The Associate. Haven't seen you around in a while.

I notice that you're watching Rahxephon - I want to watch it. Damn you. How can you watch so many series at once and still remember what's happening in each?

Rahxephon's opening theme, Hemisphere, is sung by Sakamoto Maaya, one of my favourite artistes. Yet another reason for me to go look for it. I'm still busy with One Piece, You're Under Arrest series 2, Angelic Layer, and Yu Yu Hakusho (the properly subbed version) though. Oh yeah, and Kakyusei, but that's not really high on my "to-watch" priority list right now.

Be prepared to be just slightly confused by Infinite Ryvius' story, if you intend to watch it. That animation features quite a few characters, and non of them, IMHO, are particularly memorable. Animation quality wise, however, it's excellent. Very slick, and a very clean style. It also contains very interesting science fiction material.

Have you tried Neverwinter Nights online yet? I find myself joining 2 kinds of games mostly - ones where the players go in, throw the story to the winds, and run around killing things in a mindless hack&slash fest, or ones where the players go around "thee"ing and "thou"ing every single time they converse.

It annoyeth. If one heareth one more utterance of "Good Lucketh On Your Journey"...

On a final note, I recently purchased an Iriver SlimX digital media CD player. It's a nice player. I like it very much. (more verbose/detailed review to come as I live/fiddle with it more)

n/b: Umami? 旨味 ? Good taste? wha?

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

This is surprisingly quick- i got back to singapore, dashed off to malaysia, came back and i'm off again.
I never thought it would pass so fast- accomplished many things i had planned and wanted to do for a long time.

Andrew gan

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

I've just re-read both Bridget Jones' Diary and Edge of Reason, and I find the practice of tabulating one's emotional and pharmacological states in accounting format rather fetching! So maybe I should initiate such a practice here, if only to keep up with existing "best funky-diary" practice. "A list; wonderful instrument of hypotyposis"

Games to be played:
Assassins 2
Heroes of Might and Magic IV
Warlords: Battlecry 2
Age of Wonders 2
Project Earth: Starmageddon

Games playing:
Neverwinter Nights
Grand Theft Auto 3

Movies to be watched:
Lilo & Stitch
Reign of Fire
Road to Perdition
Ayurveda: The Art of Being
Mean Machine

Animes watching:
Condor Heroes(the anime version is a surprisingly robust remake)
Deeper Samurai Kyo
Cowboy Bebop

Animes to be watched:
Argento Soma
Gatekeepers 2001
Infinite Ryvius

Books to be read:
rest of Glen Cook Black Company series
Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana
Jack Vance Dying Earth Cycle(it's all in one complete Fantasy Masterworks omnibus now!)
Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow
Robert Anton Wilson's Schroedinger's Cat(finally found a secondhand copy in this funky little bookstore near my previous workplace)

Cigarettes - 4 Cartier menthols, 1 Marlboro light(purloined from a colleague)
Alcohol - 325ml of Carlsberg Special Brew
Drugs - 0
Number of suicidal thoughts - approx. 14
Number of panic attacks in heavy traffic - approx. 2000
Number of ... ah fuck this whole list thing.

BTW, Gabriel, as you know, I'm seriously tone-deaf, so can you help me compose a certain ring-tone for me? It was in my old Nokia 6110(back when buttons were still rubber by default instead of horrible, non-tactile polymer-resin) - but I had to give it away to Weili as part of the chattels. Long story. Then I used my mother's even older Nokia 3110(which Hasan once characterised as the "dog-killing phone"[sic] - throw it at a dog to kill it due to its brick-like composition) for a while. Last month I found a Nokia 8210 on the subway. Am bemusedly exploring the wonders of smart-text SMS as opposed to the old multi-touch system. But in the meantime, I would like to restore my old ring-tone.

I'll send you the mp3 of the tune, or proffer a link to it (you have broadband - I don't. the injustice)

The word of the day is: "umami" (check it out, folks, it's a doozy)

I wish I could ascribe my absence over the last few months to something noble like fruitful labour; or something glamorous like a yachting cruise around the Ardennes,
or something ascetic like withdrawing to a mountain cave to meditate on the fruits of samsara - or even simply the dogged willpower of channeling every ounce of spare energy into getting a better job, not sparing myself even the slightest iota of time or expense to anything other than the desperate search for better employment....

The plain fact of the matter is, I actually have been having a reasonably entertaining time(outside of work - the World Cup, partial repayment of my debts and the consequent greater financial independence, more aggressively driving to strange new restaurants, Nick Hornby and Anthony Burgess reading binges, more computer games, anime shipments, etc etc...). The crumbs of spare time that aren't devoured by irritating social obligations to family outings, family dinners, family-bonding-in-living-room-sessions, the occasional late night tete-a-tete with my cousins, perfunctory attempts at exercise through swimming, all-night ICQ chats, etc etc - the time that remains is fanatically rationed for the satisfaction of my entertainment interests as pursuant to my new lifestyle goal of "As Good As It Gets."

So, without further preamble - I should launch into the base facts: I have now changed jobs - doing some analysis work at a local merchant bank(as opposed to the previous job where I was an account-opening-monkey in a consumer bank). The observations reaped here are of personal interest/significance, but not the sort that would engender much interest were I to share them in a public fora such as this one.

Most of my soundbites, if I had any, would revolve around the fairly tumultous emotional states of mind I go around these days, as well as numerous personal and social observations about life at large, working in the city, and career/future ruminations. But this blog has an implicit "no-angst" moratorium which I will respect, and my daily harvest of experiences(thus far) lack the dry soundbite value of Gabriel's NS recollections, or the surreal esotericism of my previous job. Still, I expect some things of interest will surface for Pepysian recording, in time.

End transmission.

Monday, July 15, 2002

This was just priceless- i had to post it. On ICQ msging a few minutes earlier:

andrew: *wheee*
friends is starting in half an hour! I love mondays, there's friends on channel 5, then 10 minutes later... there's friends on ntv7! And there's ed later too.

anonymous-person-whom-i-have-yet-to-meet-in-person: *pauses*

do you ever say things like that in real life?

Sunday, July 14, 2002

I love referrer logs:

Some forum

"try reading this person's blog. he's fr cmc too.


"ah thanks!!! it's interesting and funny sial...haha"

"WAH.. see so many words i close the window liao..."

But they're freaky too. What do people search for to find this weblog? Things like "changi point transvestite", "sispec logo", "anime ripped tentacles picture", "slave's blog", "hentai gold demon tentacles picture", "fbt shorts", "using insects in bdsm" and "dirty irritating hindus". Gah! In comparison, Yaoi Girl's referrer list is positively mundane.

Shuyu starts school at NTU tomorrow. I wonder how many people are going to that little place in the middle of nowhere :) Maybe I can drop by after booking out.

Hear and Singharmony� Recording Method

"If you have ever learned a song by singing along with the radio or stereo, you can just as easily learn to sing a harmony part using our Hear and Singharmony� recordings. Here's how our method works. The harmony part you are trying to learn is recorded prominently (or, in some cases, entirely alone) on the right hand stereo channel. All other musical content is recorded on the left channel."

How.. Interesting.

Wonder when I'll tire of composing ringtones.
Bookout post:

I made the mistake of trying Cheers brand Sarsi. It is absolutely vile, it has a very strong and acrid taste. It's a Malaysian brand.

Restored Post

We were shown the Body Cooling Unit. It's very fun - when activated, it produces a fine mist which is very refreshing.

I must try the shuttle bus one day, it's sure to save lots of time.

They're very evil - they put anti-smoking posters, with graphic descriptions of the dangers of smoking, at designated smoking points! Not that it works.

A Playstation has been brought into bunk! Not that I have interest in playing a Japanese football game called Winning Eleven, some weird track and field simulation or console games in general anyway.

Some of the dogs in camp are quite cute - when I booked out on Tuesday, this guard duty personnel was petting one dog. And I am told that one day, on their orientation prowl, the prowlers were followed by 5-6 dogs. On Friday, 2 dogs tried to enter the Medical Centre, but we chased them out.

I saw, on the Dispensary whiteboard, that some people are banned from there for taking drugs from there without prescription. Hehe. In the same place, I also talked to a reservist whose reservist time consists of dispensing drugs, because the Medical Officer liked him and downgraded him before ORD. Oh well.

The pidgin tongue that passes for Chinese is starting to irk me so that I might even set up an "Improve Your Chinese" site. What a thought. Or maybe "Purify Your Chinese".

Supposedly in Australia we will consume Australian combat rations, which beat those we get here. Yeh.

I was given this horrendous piece of paperwork to do - to fill in, on some pieces of paper, some details from the medical records of slightly over 250 people, and the names on the piece of paper were only roughly sorted according to some arcane order. AHH! Luckily, after I finished the first page, he who asked me to fill in the table of details didn't ask me for the completed list, so I think I'm safe :)

Hilarious excerpts from my (temporary) company's briefing for newly posted personnel:

"No spitting or use of vulgar language is allowed within the unit.

Servicemen are refrain (sic) from discussing subjects involving race, language or religion within the unit.

Servicemen are not allowed to eat from moving from point to point."

Our Australia trip is being cut short! Probably will be 2 weeks instead of 3 now. Yeh.

I'll only have to go for remedial training if I miss weekday RTs with no valid reason. Supposedly. Oh well. But then one guy got downgraded to C2L2 because he couldn't pass his 2.4 even after 6 months of intensive daily RT, so there's hope yet!

Coming back from my night off on Tuesday, I brought a 1.25L bottle of Pepsi Twist and a bottle of Snapple Lemon Tea to put in the sick bay fridge. The next day, the former was almost finished while the latter was unopened. I conclude that people only try what they're familiar with! So I shall bring all the weird foods and drinks from now on to put in the fridge.

By right, we've to march around camp, but no one does so, and no one cares. As one lao jiao medic said, "The rest don't march... Don't spoil the market". Anyhow, even those who march, the people from the non-HQ companies, don't sing the inane, grammatically incorrect marching songs or march properly, so.

Lately, I realise that the unclean thoughts that were plaguing me during my time at SMM have not been present. Perhaps it is because people here cuss less, or maybe I've reached an internal equilibrium, and bound the stray thoughts in a chaos-order framework. (I'm talking rubbish, nevermind) [NB: For the benefit of newer readers, unclean thoughts do not refer to those of the obscene type, but of the vulgar type]

There's this weird "connect" ritual where everyone in the unit will touch each other, and the CO will shout, "42SAR" and everyone will shout (rather, mumble) "The Cutting Edge". Unit culture is weird.

On Battalion Games Day, I was roped in for the Tug of War competition, naturally. The CO decided to join our team, so it was lucky that we didn't lose! For our trouble, we were given Japanese containers as prizes. Mine is a translucent blue Tupperware-esque box.

I asked my Senior Medic if we could go for a night off on Friday, and he said it wasn't my father's army. To which I pointed out that if it was my father's army I wouldn't have to serve :) Surprised at my "gall", they told a tale of an RJ guy from some years back who was charged for many things. Hehe.

Thursday's System Run

I saw a lot of black RJ people coming in wet, barefoot and in PE attire and then changing to uniform. It took me a while to realise they were canoeists. Don't they have toilets anywhere nearer the Kallang river?

They have these ramshackle, 3 or 4 wheeled contraptions with lights attached to them. As with many of the things here, this is hard to explain, but you'll know what I mean if you watch NDP. They're ridiculous.

There's one part at the end of NDP where they play the National Anthem, blues style, with a malay woman singing it sultrily. Pre-empting their playing it, I ran to the toilet so I wouldn't hear it so loudly, and wouldn't have to stand up. In the end, they didn't play it. Grr.

During the system run, the guy in charge of the colour LCD they have at the stadium was cheeky. He played trailers for Warcraft III and the Diablo II expansion!

Later that day, the Soka association was rehearsing - the only group of performers rehearsing that day. Because of the rain, they ran under shelter to stay dry. At that point of time, I was very bored so I walked a round around the stadium. Passing by the Soka women, I heard them changing in unison in a foreign language. It was rather unnerving. Then again, most'd find people chanting Latin in unison unnerving, so.

Further along my round, someone suddenly shouted "medic". Turning around, I saw a moustached man who said that he "wanted to test how alert the medic is". Apparently he was a medic 30 years ago at SMM and the School of Artillery. Hmm.

As part of their efforts to provide variety for our meals, however small, and also perhaps to promote their new "wholesome" set meal, on Thursday, KFC changed its fare to 2 pieces of chicken, the multi-grain bun and whipped potato. However, I don't see how potato wedges, deep fried chicken, mashed potatos with oily gravy, fizzy drinks and coleslaw of dubitable freshness and residual Vitamin C content due to exposure, with milk and sugar added too, is wholesome or healthy. And the bun doesn't really have that much more fibre than a normal one after all, though it does taste quite good. At least it's not as ridiculous as McDonald's brochures proclaiming their breakfast menu healthy.

Friday and Saturday's NDP rehearsal

Secondary 3 Geography has its uses! In the fridge in the medical centre is a Sixes thermometer. Folie asked me how to read it, to note down the max-min temperatures of the fridge, but I'd forgotten. Ruby Tan YC (What YC stood for, I never found out, though maybe the others did) would not be proud of me!

I saw in the papers that on 26/7 and 27/7, Stravinsky's Firebird Suite, among other works, is being performed by the SSO. Too bad I can't go due to NDP rehearsals.

All the Medical Officers had gone home, so the Medical Centre was closed for the day. Our Senior Medic was bored, so, as with the last time we were very free, at a NDP rehearsal, he found something for us to do. This time, he brought us on a SOC orientation in clean fatigues. The course at our camp seems a touch easier than at BMT - I managed to clear the low wall, and the ramp doesn't seem that high. But when I jumped off the ramp (no more low ramp outside BMT, nosiree!), I landed face flat in the sand, as I always did when jumping off the low ramp in BMT. However, I still couldn't clear all the usual obstacles (parallel bars, swing trainer, low rope) and I didn't jump off the balance beam. I wonder how atrocious my timing will be - 20 mintues?

At night, while I was attempting to get Blogger to work, Andrew Gan and Mr Ong went to a RV fundraising concert, for their trip to Europe at year's end. I wonder if the alumni are/will be invited.

On Friday, the six of us new medics were tasked to go and act as stretcher barriers (sic) at the NDP rehearsal. When we reached there, we found we weren't needed, so we went to be marshallers at the Indoor Stadium. After sitting for a while, I was tasked to run some errands - to pass someone a nametag not his and a beret too big for him, and accompany him for cover at the Stadium until the other person who was supposed to be covering arrived. When he did arrive, I asked to stay at the Stadium and do something useful instead of moving chairs and the like, which the rest who were marshallers had to do. And I got to fall out earlier too - 8:15. Yeh!

Some of my 5 fellow new medics were excited when, when raining, a schoolgirl in a white shirt ran by. Sigh.

No coloured drinks are allowed in the Indoor Stadium - some backroom politicking by Sprite and 7-up representatives?

There were quite a few people sitting in the stadium watching the rehearsal. Perhaps these are those who did not manage to get tickets for NDP proper or the preview, so they snuck in for a look. Someone opined that the reason most people go for NDP is the goody bag, but what can be inside to make it worth all the time wasted queueing and watching the show? Or is it just that Singaporeans' desire to get something for what is apparently nothing (nothing, if you discount making up the numbers and making the stadium look full, showing the world that Singaporeans are very loyal and patriotic! And allowing yourself to be brainwashed and emotionally manipulated)?

To start off the pre-parade segment of NDP, they have this topless hunk in yellow trousers breakdancing on a giant drum to drum beats. And later, he is wheeled off dancing to the "Celebrate Good Times" song. I wonder where they get these ideas. [NB: My source tells me - ohhhhhh, that's 'gold man'. thought goldman was an emcee or something for a really long time. 'goldman 5 minutes standby'. The joys of having signaller friends.]

For NDP, they got the MDC people to teach the audience the "fun" dance. They were loitering near the medical post, and I recognised some of them from my audition. They all look like poser! Hehe.

The sight of the CHIJ (mostly Sec 1) kiddies running around with their oversized colour changing horseshoes. It's hilarious. However, the singer for their Garlands of Love item sings really terribly, affecting an odd accent and singing very "lao char boar"-ly, as Nelson would put it.

There were quite a few tudung clad women in the parade, and I was afraid that they'd collapse of heatstroke due to the heat. One was particularly extreme - her contingent's attire was a polo shirt and pants, but I noticed something weird about her arms, and from our vantage point we agreed that she'd covered her arms with skin-coloured material, making her look like a patient who'd suffered third degree burns to her arms and was waiting for the skin graft op. The lengths some people go to. In the end, the 2 people who had to be stretchered out in our quadrant were not tudung clad - one was a Boys Brigade boy and the other some girl from one of the industrial associations. In other tudung-related news, one girl in the signing choir was wearing a tudung. Except that the signing choir's performance attire was three quarters. Gasp, the Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue must be called in! I seem to have an unnatural obsession with tudungs.

The 16 year old girl with the apostrophed name representing all Singaporeans dances quite well. Somehow, I wasn't surprised when my source told me she was from ACJC. She was practicing during the pre-parade, with a bandana (I still think those things are a terrible idea). I think she looks better au naturel, sans makeup, than in her publicity pic. Like everyone important involved in the show, she has an understudy in case she dies or is otherwise incapacitated. I wonder if the President has an understudy too.

Representing one of the five arms of Total Defence is a PAP contingent. I was rather shocked to see this - I know most people equate the PAP, the government and the nation, but this is a bit blatant. Where's the token SDP, SPP or WP members? What I'd give to see Chee Soon Juan in there...

Seeing civilians attempting to do drill is very funny. Then again, seeing me do drill is also very funny.

People from St John's Ambulance also salute the flag during the national anthem. Gah.

During what I believe was the PA item, there was a guy in fatigues performing, complete with the glittering fan. I know they may be short of manpower, but getting SAF personnel to perform is a little bit depserate, don't you think?

As usual, they have too many dancers. So for the "Radio NDP" part where a song is sung in each of the four national languages, and the whole thing's capped off by this year's NDP song, at least one girl has to dress up as a guy. Aww. Well it's good, at least it will reduce the incidence of Khalwat! And for all the talk of racial integration, the dancers taking centrestage during each of the 4 songs are those of the race corresponding to the language of the song - the Malay dancers during the Malay song, the Indian ones during the Indian item and (naturally) the ACJC dancers during the English song.

The Starhub blimp kept flying by the stadium. At first I thought that the pilot was bored, so he came to view the show, but I now think that he's the one filiming the "helicopter view" of the parade that was flashed from time to time on the stadium screen.

Just how many balloons are needed to provide enough lift to lift a man? Evidently the long chains used in NDP aren't sufficient.

We were repeatedly pestered to keep off the field. We were perplexed by their seemingly irrational obsession, until with a whiz and a bang, mini-fireworks (or giant sparklers, depending on your point of view) burst from the stage, followed by jets of flame. Impressive. And expensive (maybe that's where the foreign reserves go to!). Some of the female performers running up to the stage at that time were stunned and shrieked. Indeed, I almost shrieked myself, but instead just half bent over.


"All ranks canteen" (sign)

"[On civilians at the NDP parade segment] First song, no one fall out. Second song, a few fall out. Third song, a lot fall out. Jee bye... They were falling like fleas [at the first rehearsal]."

"[Me on civilians falling out: Maybe they never drink enough water] It's not the water. It's the chao keng. Trust me"

"[Me on NDP dancers: It's ACJC. Look at the shirt] All eat potato one"

Amusing SMSes of this week:

"yunxin can't know a lot of people- she doesn't know me. she cute?"

"thirteen year olds sure have good taste" - On Andrew Gan being handsome

Stuff I forgot:

Someone wrote, in liquid paper, "David Linx" on the vending machine in RJC with the male frisbee thrower. Oh well.

Thought: Why are there so many bust enhancement ads in the mass media in Singapore, but no penile enhancement ones? Odd.
My sister was just checking out all the propaganda songs on the Sing Singapore website. I don't know why she's spending so much time viewing all those music videos.

The original version of "We Will Get There" is actually palatable - it's the dance remix, sung by "Four *talented* young ladies, Amelia Samuel, Hetty Sarlene, Anna Belle Francis and Skye" that I've been blasted with repeatedly that has put me off the song.

Thoughts I had after the NDP system run on Thursday:

My sister's getting of my brother in law, who comes from a rather traditional Chinese family, to eat beef by smuggling it into his food was, in my opinion, rather akin to getting a Muslim to eat pork. I could not research the reasons why some Chinese do not eat beef - it might be sacred or impure, but surely getting someone to eat something his religion forbids is rather malicious? Anyhow, he is a fervent eater of beef nowdays.

My sister also likes to ridicule, even insult, traditional Chinese religions. She belittles their practices, gets my brother in law not to practice them and calls them "Devil worship". Now, if anyone even intimated that the modern major monotheistic religions were ridiculous or untrue, she'd be one of the first to shout, "racist!" (though that term really is not suitable. Perhaps "faithist" or "religionist"?). Even innocuous remarks can be interpreted as racist by here, for example, my Secondary 1 Chinese Teacher's comment that non-Halal meat tastes better than Halal meat because the blood is properly drained. These double standards are really infuriating, as even if one does not believe in a certain religion, one should not insult or demean it.
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