When you can't live without bananas

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Thursday, August 28, 2003

My new chio handphone cover! $5 only. Very nice, but the buttons are too sensitive.

New theme! Somehow, it looks substantially different in IE, with a misty sorta effect. Solves the problem of missing posts in IE, though.
Oddly, Internet Explorer is not displaying the newest post - it shows up in the source code but not onscreen. At the same time, the text in the centre is centre-aligned, and the date header is missing. Gecko-based browsers work fine, though.

Any suggestions or ideas?

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

It turns out that 42SAR is going to whack me with everything they've got. They're all out to get me. I'm going to have to go for 5BX at the unearthly time of 5:25am, RT, company runs, IPPT, SOC and all other forms of physical training, and I suspect a special programme will be tacked on to this already streneous regimen. Now the benefits of attaching out have been reduced to booking out daily and earlier and coming back later (quite important, really), less regimentation and (maybe) stayout on Friday nights. Still worth the $50 pay cut (the money isn't really important to me, anyway), though not quite as good a deal as before.

I don't understand why they are doing this to me. I am already off the list for BUC, but they want to have their cake and eat it - though my failures do not affect them any longer, they feel compelled to whack me still. I am no longer pulling them down, yet they feel compelled to pull *me* down. I sense a few genuinely want to help, but it is drowned by the seeming vitriol of some and the relentless slave driving of the rest. I know that I am just a number or statistic to them, so I am puzzled at the lengths at which they are going to. That they were capable of such I knew, but I did not think they'd actually bother to go to such lengths. Perhaps they are unhappy as it was troublesome to attach me out. Perhaps this fulfils some viceral sadistic need in them. Or maybe it's yet another one of those things which give regulars meaning in life.

To try to psyche me, alien concepts such as "personal gain", making it "part of my daily routine", "having a sense of accomplishment" and "enjoying it" were introduced to me by some. I suppose that those who take pride at being able to do 20 chinups will never be able to understand why some others find that a non-event. I would find about as much pleasure in passing IPPT as in massacring ethnic minorities in gas chambers or gunning down rows of bound and gagged civilians with a machine gun (not that I might never be forced to do either).

Ironically, what the Powers That Be do not seem to realise is that this relentless training is actually counter-productive. When you have SOC one day, IPPT the next and a 8km Route March the third, you cannot - cannot afford to - put in your best effort for each of them. This week, I have IPPT one day, SOC the next, and probably a Company Run the last, all the while with 5BX at 5:25am each morning (my biceps, triceps and thighs are still sore from my last 5BX session on Monday, more than 39 hours ago). And this is not counting the Company Run I managed to escape this morning because I was on duty. My CSM actually wants me to get someone to stand in for me for duty so I can go for each and every Company Run, RT and training session. I wonder if she wants the same for 5BX. If that's the case, I might as well not do duty, since I will never be there overnight.

By pushing me so hard, they are actually draining me of whatever motivation I had for independent training and degrading my performance. I was actually planning on working up a sweat 1-3 nights a week, barring unforseen circumstances, but since I am already going to be tormented in the early morning, morning and afternoon, I have abandoned my embryonic plans. No matter what I do on my own, how little I eat, or how much weight I lose, I will be continually lashed with the whip, so I will not bother doing any of the above. Moral of the story: Forced training often has the opposite effect.

In a way, this bout of troubles is worse than those I faced in BMT, for then I knew that my suffering was transient was would end in 15 weeks, and then I'd stand a chance (however faint) of going to a better place,and could cling on to that faint hope. Now, I stand to suffer for the 9 months and 3 weeks left till ORD (albeit with a 3 week hiatus next month - 2 weeks of overseas leave followed by 1 week of 42SAR's block leave where I'll be gloriously free in camp!). Meanwhile, while I suffer, my work languishes. All this is not helped by the fact that almost all of the "proper channels" of authority do not seem to be sympathetic, and are determined to thresh me repeatedly. The other channels of recourse in the SAF are also said by some who have experience with them to be useless and half-hearted. Thankfully, my Senior Medic has shown some signs of tempering this hellish regime with mercy, and says he will let me rest, but I doubt the practicality of that.

Of course, Devil's Advocates and seemingly well-intentioned people are wont to claim that this sadistic regime is actually "for [my] own good", but as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and there's always the tale I bring up of the Roman father who killed his daughter after she'd been raped to preserve her (and the family's) honour (Read: For Her Own Good (TM) (their names elude me).

Frankly, I don't know why I am so upset, or why I've been brought to tears over this spate of troubles. When you hear about it (as opposed to seeing it or doing it), it doesn't actually sound too bad. Even I don't find it impossible, though that's not least because I've been holding back for fear of exhausting myself or leaving no energy for the next day or week's fresh trials. My CSM keeps telling me not to show her my "sad face", but what does she want? A suicidal face? Further, compared to some people, especially one I have corresponded with, my troubles are as dust. Maybe I am crestfallen that, once again (as with last December), something has been yanked violently out of my grasp. Maybe I weep for the misery of the human condition.

If nothing else, I've at least found a relatively breezy and private place where I can pour out, if not my heart, then at least my tear glands. As the song goes, "For life is quite absurd, and death's the final word...
Always look on the bright side of death, Just before you draw your terminal breath."

Incidentally, my current rash of difficulties was brought on me by our favourite Poor suffering Local Third Sergeant, soon to be a Poor Suffering Substantive Third Sergeant, the Self-Proclaimed 'Master Of Office' - Tan Ban Xiong. Being short of manpower, he asked me to cover an IPPT, and this resulted in me being sighted and brought back into the spotlight, thus ending my 2 week long honeymoon. In fairness to him, I suppose I would have been forced out of the woodwork eventually, but at least I would have managed to dwell in the Elysian Fields for a while longer.

I am rather pleased with myself, because I taught the (yada yada) Self-Proclaimed 'Master Of Office' a trick. He was painstakingly selecting drawing objects one by one, and I observed him for a while, until I realised that the 'Master Of Office' was not indeed doing it the hard way on purpose, for some unfathomable end, and I taught him how to use the "arrow" function to select multiple objects at a go.

For some reason, I was reminded of this company run I had a few weeks back, when someone had the bright idea of putting me at the front and letting me "set the pace". Of course, S4 was in front of me, and *he* set the pace - probably quite slow for most, but hellishly fast for me. I managed to keep up for maybe 1km before I fell to the back, to the cries of "don't drop!". Well now, if I hadn't dropped [behind], I would have dropped [out], dropped [down] or dropped [dead], so.

I attended my first staff parade where, not only was the briefing kept short and devoid of the usual platitudes about security, I could sit down. Heh heh.

I think I am really lousy at taking care of myself - if not for some helpful people's suggestions, I might not even have gotten my 3/4 day of birthday off.

Circumcision gets you 2 weeks of MC! That beats getting wisdom teeth extracted. Something new to try for people wanting to disappear before ORD, as I messaged to not a few - but not for me.

We had an 8km Route March, and although I was lagging somewhat and feeling dazed, I was proceeding rather better than I expected when someone pushed me. Now, the stragglers are frequently given gentle nudges and pressure to keep them moving along apace. However, I hate that being done to me for, dazed and unsteady, I will lose my balance and come crashing to the ground with a great cacophony - which was what happened, and after I recovered, I moved slower and slower till I ended very much behind everyone. It's at times like these that I give praise to Aten that I will be ON LEAVE during the 24km Route March! After the route march I booked out to enjoy what was left of my birthday off, but it didn't go very well - blisters and foot pain reduced me to painful hobbling, the person I wanted to have tea with was sick, I forgot to bring my old passport so when I arrived at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) I couldn't get my new one and when I finally got home, I was so exhausted that I ended up sleeping for 2 hours, still feeling drained after I rose.

I wonder why people like to play card games so much. So far, the only one I've been able to muster some form of enthusiasm for is Solitare - I can never remember what constitutes a Royal Flush, Full House and the like, and the joy of throwing down various combinations of cards is lost on me. I suppose this is something people get into just to kill time and to socialise.

I was swapping tales of misery over SAF email with someone, and he said I would be a great online lover and soulmate to girls in distress since I can soothe people very well with words. How embarassing and distressing, yet amusing.

Why does SMRT keep re-recording its public announcements? I swear that I have heard at least 3 variations on the "no eating and drinking" announcement, all uttered by one woman in that oh-so-annoyingly-insincere voice. Maybe they're doing their bid to prime the pump.

Surprising things you read: "A recent study of 1,000 women conducted by Anna Glasier, of the University of Edinburgh, and her colleagues, showed that more than half of those surveyed in Scotland and China disliked having periods (though most Nigerians and South Africans polled did not mind). In Edinburgh, at least, a third would prefer to do away with them altogether." I'd have thought almost all of them would want to do away with their monthly "curse".

The breaking of the latest Middle East truce makes me wonder why Israel killed a supposed Hamas dove. A hawk maybe, but why a dove? This only provides more evidence for conspiracy theories, which look increasingly less implausible. Israeli hawks want to prolong the conflict and hold on to land, and so retaliate at the slightest provocation (or lack thereof), meanwhile insisting on unrealistic periods of "absolute quiet" on the part of the Palestinians (not matched by settlers or the Israeli Defense Forces) till some Palestinians loses his patience and blows himself up. Meanwhile, there must be a million Palestinian organisations providing suicide bombers, and many rogue wings and splinter cells do not fall under the purview of the Palestinian Authority, yet Israel holds the PA responsible for each and every suicide bombing (which all warrant retaliations, while somehow targeted assassinations by them don't).

I don't see the endless circle of violence ending anytime soon - if Israel stops its incursions and restrictions, it will have "rewarded terrorism" and "shown weakness". If they retaliate, they just make yet more Palestinians swear blood feud. All those settlers running around causing trouble does not help matters. On the other side of the fence, Palestinians do not stop bombings for that will show that the policy of repression works and encourages it to continue, and daily plot revenge for the latest indignities. Meanwhile, no one remembers the original provocations (or if they do, do not see them as legitimate provocations), and the endless vengeance and revenge for those acts of vengeance go on. I want to be optimistic, but it seems that unless one wipes or drives the other out, there will never be peace.

It is strange and disturbing that, after 1 1/2 years, I still can't let go, at times. Maybe it's something I instinctively cling on to when I am bored or down.

Inspired by the encouragement and platitudes about thinking positively I've been getting, especially recently, I have indulged in an exercise in Positive Thinking. The seemingly tragic scenario in which I have endeavoured to find the silver lining - the event of Singapore being annexed, conquered or entering into anschluss with a neighbor.

Some of the many good points of such an eventuality:

- No more water worries
- Politically apathetic Singaporeans will rejoice at having even less say in the political process than they currently have
- People won't say that discrimination against non-Chinese minorities exists in Singapore, or that said minorities are being marginalised
- We can complement their economies and engage in "import substitution" (*uhh*)
- Half the male citizen populace will no longer be enslaved - better a Second Class Citizen than a a helot, whom the guard dogs are sent to chase and maim on escape and bring back, yelling and screaming, to be sent to the Chain Gang


I am the Master of Office

Why're you so vexed? [Takes my scribble sheet] Sorry, I can't read your writing. [Me: That's the point.]

[On my troubles] You're gonna become a P Case if you carry on like this

[Me: What do you think of 'Duli Yang'?] What the fuck is that? [Me: Duli yang maha mulia seri paduka baginda yang di pertuan tun tan sri datuk utama seri ** ***] Gabriel, are you speaking in tongues?

[On having to do area cleaning before booking out after RT on a long weekend] No wonder our BUC is so lan [lousy]

[On someone] He thinks like a girl like that. Every word you say, he will go and think of the other meaning.

[Me on being tortured] My new motto is - bo chap.

Lessons in people management: If you push a person too hard, he will become suicidal. First step is [a] protest run, like you.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Masturbation 'cuts cancer risk' - So much for centuries of old wive's tales and superstition, fueled by pseudo-religious puritan instincts

Is The Seventh Month Fearful? - Discussion and full text of a provocative pamphlet some evangelistic Christian groups are distributing. I wonder if they'll get fined, and how *they'd* respond if another group or party was to publish a similar pamphlet targeting their own superstitions. [Ed: Just for the record, I actually support this sort of thing, as long as the right of reply is granted]

The Physics Behind Four Amazing Demonstrations - Walking on Broken Glass, Dipping Fingers in Molten Lead, Lying On a Bed of Nails and Breaking a Concrete Block and Picking Up a Piece of Orange-hot Space Tile. So that's how they do it.

The Not Al Page - The most popular songs he didn't even write (or perform)! - "a lot of people had probably found some wacky parody of a popular song and slapped Al's name on it, because everybody knows Weird Al Yankovic is the only musician who's ever done a parody."

De Vulgari Eloquentia -> Links grow out of the ends of bananas - Latest link towards my original homepage. I wonder who this guys is.


An angel of truth and a dream of fiction,
A woman is a bundle of contradiction,
She's afraid of a wasp, will scream at a mouse,
But will tackle a stranger alone in the house.
Sour as vinegar, sweet as a rose,
She'll kiss you one minute, then turn up her nose in another,
She'll win you in rage, enchant you in silk,
She'll be stronger than brandy, milder than milk,
At times she'll be vengeful, merry and sad,
She'll hate you like poison, and love you like mad.


Limited one time offer!

All who wish to receive varying amounts (depending on my mood) of less than or equal to S$1 via DBS Electronic Fund Transfer, please leave your account numbers and your identities in the YACCS comment box below!

*This rare offer expires as and when I feel like it, but not earlier than 24th August 2003, 23:59hrs

There's something to be said for listening to half a century old recordings. Though they crackle, despite the efforts of the sound engineers, there's character in them. And of course the poor quality conceals some of their flaws *g*
Estimated expenditure for today:

- $28 on sakae sushi (for each of 5 people)
- $8.50 on watching The Medallion
- $2.20 for a Regular (not large!) Drink during the a/m
- ~$10.60 on Pacific Coffee Company Mango blended ice + toasted focaccia cajun chicken sandwich
- $20.95 on a Trevor Pinnock CD
- ~$26 on the last 2 books of the Alexander the Great trilogy (finally!)

There was a poster in San bookshop advertising this book by Russel Chang (who else?!) published by Angsana Books called "Ran$om". The blurb says it's about what happens when terrorists threaten Singapore's water supply and a secret agent is called back into service by the Prime Minister. It sounds so bad, it's good!
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