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Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Went to Luna park, st. kilda (the could-be-dodgy district with attitude, funk and great gelati) with some friends to watch a magic show- they're aiming to set a new guiness record for the world's longest magic show. It's to raise funds for the "brainwave centre" (neurological research/treatment centre) in the royal children's hospital- GO PAEDS!!!

I've got to wake up in 6 hours' time for tomorrow's programme. Have been assigned to a clinical placement with a general paractice in templestowe, but all the bus drivers in most of melbourne (i think) are on strike until 21 april, so the only viable way of getting to there from the city is to take a half-hour train to the nearest train station to that neighbourhood, and take a (very expensive) cab from the train station to the clinic. My senior (well he's a doctor now) recommended i call the doctor tomorrow morning, explain the situation to him and see if i don't have to go down. Think i'll do that (=.

Been reflecting (what's new? =P). And I realized that what Ravi Zecharias says is so true -
Meaningless does not come from being weary of pain/suffering, meaningless comes from being weary of pleasure... when after sampling pleasure after pleasure, you are left barren and empty.

1) Anything that refreshes you without distracting you from your ultimate goal is a legitimate pleasure.
And to know this makes things so much easier- once you know what your ultimate goal is.

2) Any pleasure that jeopardises the sacred right of another is an illicit pleasure.

3) Proverbs 25:16- if you find honey, eat just enough of it; too much, and you will vomit. And anyone, christian or buddhist, muslim or atheist, can attest to it. Any pleasure, however good, if not kept in balance, will distort reality or destroy appetite. Keep your life in balance- the best of sensual/emotional/intellectual pleasures will satisfy you the best for the short-term only.

1) Pleasure for pleasure's sake will leave you empty.-= must be a means, never an end to itself.
will fill in the rest tomrrow or later.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Back to a new week ... after two years in melbourne I have realized that I Like evenings at home. I take it as a luxury to be able to spend an evening lounging around, doing stuff, in the comfort of the knowledge that I don' t have to rush anything and nothing is further than 10 metres away from me (yes, my apartment is cosy-small). I don't hate spending nights out (and indeed in my first year i tried my best not to be at home any weekend night) but I appreciate the little things - cooking myself any dinner I feel like cooking, taking my time to wash up (i'm not sure my housemates appreciate that), opening up my books....
Quotation from a friend's blog:

"...Again, so what, now?

And all this in a stage whisper, you know, within the echo-y confines of your darkened room. It bothers me that I tend to agree, because what we're running from isn't hard work, but drudgery. We're the generation with the shortest attention span in history, and what we want are reasons to stay alive.

Because what we're trying to avoid isn't abject failure, but mediocrity.

So what're the promising children of tomorrow to do? Write about it in their blogs (how effing tragic)? Log on to Friendster and reassure themselves that they are deeply loved, 156 times over?"

I don't mind mediocrity... I would even look forward to a life like that, because there is security in such a life, and that is something I value. As long as my head is above the clouds, as long as my eyes are focussed on a point on the horizon, it doesn't matter if my feet are currently planted on mediocre ground I know I will finish somewhere in the distance, in my Canaan, in my promised land.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Off to Brunei soon. I wonder if, during my 18 day absence, any brave souls will take up the challenge of entertaining our audience.

Luckily, I will stay in the Medical Centre, so I will get to see Haoxiang around in camp. Still, I'd rather not have to go. Oh well. ORD Loh!

"The Beatles Poured Evil Into The World"

"Strawberry Fields Forever
When people shoot drugs, the needles leave marks on the arms. Drug adicts call these red marks "strawberry feilds" In this song John Lennon is expressing his desire to always shoot drugs into his body.
This song sounds like a drug induced experience and was written while Mr. Lennon was high on heroin.

You've Got To Hide Your Love Away
"Here I stand, head in hand turned my face to the wall"
This song is obviously about masturbation, which is a sin

Revolution 9.
In this song the meaning is cleverly concealed, in fact you cannot hear the secret message unless you play the record backward on a special player. When tured backwards you can hear the words "turn me on dead man, turn me on dead man", this was done to secretly express the fact that John Lennon was, in secret, a homosexual necrofeeliac, a ritual that has been performed for centuries by African Satanic organizations.

It Won't Be Long
"It won't be long 'till i can be with you"
It dosn't take long into this song before you figure out that The Beatles are waiting to be called home by Satan.

Little Child
"Little child, little child, little child won't you dance with me"
Need more be said?"

This is hilarious.

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Passion of the Christ

So Hwa wanted to watch this, and brought me along. He gives it 2 stars, and I 3. Naturally, I have comments aplenty.

On the whole, I got the impression that this is what Faces of Death would look like if it were extended to a 2 hour movie special. Nay, a correction: Faces of Death is not as sick or sadistic, and does not dwell on pain, suffering or torment as much (at least from my impression of the 1 1/2 episodes I inadvertently watched). From the lines, "Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and struck him with their hands", Mel Gibson has produced one of the most graphic, extended and shocking movie torture scenes in history (trumping his performance years back in Braveheart by magnitudes, I might add), one that only the most warped of serial killers would be able to conjure up.

No doubt, this is in part due to the use of such dubitable sources as "The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ", in addition to the New Testament Canon. Mel Gibson probably also wanted to shock this generation, desensitised as it is already to violence. So what's next? Gutting people, tying their intestines to a tree and then kicking them off a cliff? I am sickened.

Going by general censorship guidelines in Singapore, I think this film would have received a R(A) rating (and not the M18 rating), or even been rejected (like Showgirls was), but for the religious element. Churches normally condemn violence and gore in the media, but in this case, they endorse it because it's a religious film. Going by the same logic, normally killing people is wrong, but if it's in the name of your god, it's perfectly fine! Ho hum.

Gratuitous violence and bloodshed aside, it is a gripping retelling of a good story, and for that Mel Gibson has to be applauded.

Charges of anti-Semitism have been levelled at the film, and even if one does not agree, it seemed wholly sympathetic towards the Romans, and made the raving mad Jewish mob and the bushy-bearded Rabbis look wholly responsible for Jesus' death. I do not blame them, really. If you have divine commandments setting strict laws and then decreeing death for any who blaspheme, can you really blame your Chosen People for killing someone claiming to be your son and trying to upset your millennia old covenant - blasphemy of the highest order (I read quote about this issue once but cannot locate it now so this paraphrase will have to suffice), especially with many false Messiahs having appeared previously? This also skirts the tricky moral issue of how you can punish people for being unwitting pawns in your plan to redeem all of humanity and washing away their sins by sacrificing your beloved offspring to yourself so you won't have to condemn everyone to eternal torment in hell.

The use of Aramic and Latin is touted as lending the film an air of authenticity. This sounds reasonable, but for the fact that Greek, not Latin, was the Lingua Franca in the Eastern part of the Roman Empire (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong), and the original New Testament Gospels were in Greek (so what the original words were, even if they were spoken in Aramic, is uncertain). How someone would be able to talk, walk and even carry a cross after being practically scourged to death and losing enough fluid to go into severe shock was also unexplained (though the numerous falls did remind me of my Route Marches). I was also mildly disturbed on seeing a pair of rope stirrups. Historical fault! Finally, Hwa couldn't recognise Monica Bellucci, probably because she seemed to have bound her breasts.

Aside: It seems cinemas gave up on the "please turn off your handphones" public service announcements long ago, having admitted defeat. Now if only the RIAA did the same...

Skeptic's Annotated Quran - brought to you by the people behind the Skeptic's Annotated Bible. Something I must check out after Lancer.
Quote of the Week: "First-class degrees used to be awarded very sparingly. According to one Cambridge joke, examiners in moral sciences (philosophy) used to shun awarding firsts, because that would imply that the candidate was as clever as the examiner, which would be logically absurd."

Medical Centre Tales

One of the requirements for ORD is a blood test. Drawing my blood has always been hard, and my veins have challenged all who attempt to find them. I decided to try to get my blood drawn before Lancer, and asked the CCO Senior Medic Mr Sam to do the job, he probably being the most experienced in the Medical Centre. When the rest heard that my blood was to be drawn, three quarters of the medical centre gathered in the Treatment Room to watch the spectacle.

Not having had a needle enter me since the SMM days, I was a bit apprehensive initially but the pain was less than I remembered since after all, after you've had the Yakult straw stuck inside you, normal needles are nothing, though it was still something I'd rather not go through more times than necessary. In the end, over two days I was poked by Ban Xiong and Mr Sam 6 times in all - 3 in the right wrist, 1 in the left wrist and 2 times in the inside of the left elbow, and all of those times, either insufficient blood was drawn or the vein could not be located. Looks like I'll have to offer my arms to the needles again after Brunei!

I was involved in a very traumatising incident recently. I was on duty and took a packet of lunch from the sickbay. There was a curious but innocuous looking black shape, and I bit into it. At first there was no taste and I was wondering if the black thing was a flavourless pod, but suddenly, it felt as if a star had come into being. All the fires and brimstone of the Seventh Circle of Hell could not compare to the raging conflagration that was confined in my buccal cavity - it was the hotest thing I'd ever tasted. Grasping a bottle of tepid water, I ran to look for a sink. 2 MO rooms were occupied, so I burst into my Secret Garden. I rinsed my mouth but though it brought some temporary relief, it was soon aflame again. Turning the tap, I quickly swished some water around, but the water quickly became scalding hot. I then ran to the pantry fridge and got a bottle of chilled water from the freezer, but the relief was still temporary and it still felt like I was chewing embers and my tongue especially was glowing with the heat. I tried gripping my Duty Medic staff to distract myself from the pain, all to no avail. I then remembered the soothing properties of milk and sprinted to the canteen. Although my tongue still smouldered after the milk, it was at least tolerable, but I was shaken for the next hour and when I returned to eat my lunch, my hands were trembling and I was ashen-faced, eliciting words of concern from the others.

One reservist was afflicted with gynaecomastia and excused ICT for a while. Apparently he was psychologically affected. I saw him as he was walking out, but didn't find him to be any more well endowed than I am. Maybe he likes to wear tight, thin shirts.

Now when medics pass out from SMM they have an Passing Out talk. Wah. I saw one slide - "Meeting Your Senior Medic". Heh heh heh. I hope they brief them on how life post-SMM is less slack, so they don't get -too- shocked when they go to places like 42SAR. "If you get posted to places like SAFTI, good for you. If you get places like 42SAR, you'll be cursing and swearing for the rest of your NS life. This is normal."

Our sickbay fridge is wonderful - the fridge can't keep things cold, and the freezer can't freeze things.

The new senior medic is apparently going to be my SMM platoon senior instructor. Heh.

42 SAR Chronicles - Preparation for Brunei

We were supposed to get a haircuit before going to Brunei. The 46 barber was closed and I didn't want to waste time and money during my pre-embarkation days off, so I gritted my teeth and went to 42's barber, something I had not done since before he stopped levying a $2 monthly fee on all enlistees in my unit, regardless of whether they used his services or not. When I arrived there, I found that there had been some changes. Price discrimination is now practiced there - Privates and Lance Corporals pay $3, Corporals (!@#$%^&*() - Usually Corporals get put in the same price band as Privates and Lance Corporals) to First Sergeants $4, and Staff Sergeants and above $5. I was leery but had no choice, so I inserted myself into the queue. I found that the service had improved slightly, possibly because the barber had forgotten who I was - he now takes more care, though he still cannot match the 46 barber. A bonus is that shaving of stubble with the razor is now included, and furthermore, he wielded the blade more deftly than all the Malay barbers I have been too. Also, he has now powder for customers' use.

We wasted the lion's share of an afternoon in an auditorium. Ostensibly there for a Lancer brief, we inevitably spent most of the time waiting. It seems the AV personnel were very bored, for they conducted a disorienting ritual - first all the lights in the auditorium were turned on. Then, the OHP screen was raised. When it was fully retracted, some of the lights were suddenly turned off again. Then, the OHP screen was lowered. This happened a total of not one, not two but FIVE times, and gave me a splitting headache, leading to my covering my eyes with my beret.

For Lancer, the civilian attire for those of CSM rank and above is: long sleeved shirt with tie, pants and leather shoes. Wah. Mere mortals like us need only wear Polo Tees, though the rest of the outfit is the same. Hmm, I wonder if anyone will wear pig's leather shoes.

We are told that training in Lancer is a "privilege". Wth. Sorry, but this is a "privilege" I'd rather forego. In fact - you know what? If I refuse to fight, I'll actually be helping the SAF by not getting in its way with my total incompetence. Why don't I make the "contribution" to Operational Readiness, then? (Further reading: Rant on "privileges")

We were given the Definitive List of Contraband for SAF servicemen returning from overseas. As one might expect, it is considerably more draconian than the Definitive List of Contraband for Civilians returning from overseas. Among some of the more questionable inclusions: Non-MITA approved/censored media (I don't think MITA will go all the way there just to approve/censor media. Therefore, all media from overseas is banned. Bravo!), Chewing Gum (Wth?! I thought Singaporeans can bring in small amounts for personal consumption. It's sale that's prohibited), Computer Media/Software (?! I attribute this to general SAF paranoia) and Audio CDs (I don't think recitations of Koranic verses are illegal in Singapore, unless the SAF thinks they incite people to become suicide bombers). Heck, Brunei is even more puritan than Singapore - if something is banned here, it will definitely be banned there, except for chewing gum, that is. At this rate, the only souvenirs we will be able to get are "I went to Brunei and all I was allowed to get was this lousy T-shirt" T-shirts!

On the list of Dos and Don't for Lancer: "Do not tease the Bruneian women in public." Does this mean we can tease them in private?

42 SAR Chronicles - Misc

Just before we all went on embarkation off for Lancer, we had a movie night, where "We Were Soldiers" was screened. The thought is nice, but I think most of us would rather have slept in bunk or booked out, especially since the MPH (it was the wet weather program - the parade square was wet) was so hot and stuffy that everyone was sweating profusely. I guess some regulars felt the same way, for throughout the movie they were hanging out along the corridor outside the MPH. Furthermore, why is it that we always have to watch War Movies? I'm sure we all have enough of soldiering in the day without having to be subjected to it at night as well. As someone wailed, "Why can't we have a Romantic Comedy?".

We Were Soldiers: The CO in the movie is possessed of an SAF-esque mentality. His grand speech about being the first one on the battlefield and the last one off it, and leaving no man behind makes for great rhetoric, but in reality, having the CO killed due to his foolhardiness would cripple the unit, and risking a whole company to retrieve a few bodies (or seriously crippled men) risks annihilating it. Pursuing "glory" and "honour", you end up losing both the battle and the war. What short sighted thinking, just to keep up appearances and project machismo. (Aside: Of course, this is not what happened in the show, but then - it's Hollywood)

Dennis was saying that the reason why I was targeted so much by 42 at one point was that my words and actions showed that I was "buay gan" (not happy?) with their assaults on me. I suppose that’s true – though I did not engage in active resistance, passive resistance was my undoing.

Recently there has been a new breakfast item - "Nonya Fried Rice" - rice fried with mushrooms, chicken sausages, eggs and corn. What's so nonya about it, I have yet to figure out.

The brooms that the SAF used to provide us with had hollow broomsticks. These were, I presume, cheaper but they lasted a helluva short time, breaking after times as short as a few weeks. The latest batch of brooms, however, have wooden broomsticks. I hope they have realised that the short term cost savings from the cheaper brooms do not pay off.

A regular stayed out without a stay out pass and was charged and fined $100. A NSF did the same, and went to DB for 7 days. Meanwhile, officers stay out with impunity. Ah, the injustice of this world.

Someone got scolded because his hair was too short but apparently this hairstyle is accepted in the MRF and Guards. Wonderful unit we have - you can neither have long hair nor short.


Over the past 30 years, 3 principles have stayed constant in the SAF: Stupidity, Sadism and Senselessness.

It is said that the greatest threat to security is the belief that there is no threat. Perhaps, but surely the next greatest threat to security is an obsession with imagined or inflated threats (eg CDRs and Camera Phones)

The SAR21 is lousier than the M16 for drill purposes because, for one thing, it is hard and awkward to keep it cocked for the clearing of arms, and so synchronising this among a large group is hard.

SFI finally has a new night snack - orange muffins. They're not bad.

There's a speechwriting course. Wah. I want to go.

Scent manufacturers have a secret catalog of scents, which includes the New Car and Hotel Lobby (including, among other things, a whiff of cigarette smoke and maybe carpet cleaner) scents. It seems there is also an Auditorium scent (partly the furniture polish used on the parquet floors of the stage) - walking into the ATC auditorium put me in mind of RI's "New" Block.

It seems that often, SAF awards and decorations go to people who do not deserve them one bit. I'm not surprised, really. The principle is the same as that behind why Third World dictators make themselves Six-Star Generals and bedeck themselves with as many medals as innocent civilians they have massacred in putting down uprisings.

I finally got down to trying to solve my phone's problems, and went to a Nokia Care Centre. The man there said he'd upgrade my firmware, but that all my data would be lost. Why they could not backup my data when even I can easily do it at home (at least when Hwa is around), I do not know. Maybe it's a disincentive to discourage customers from pestering them. What pissed me off was that the firmware version remained the same after the "upgrade". However, worse was to come. A few days later, I was in camp and taking an MOP back to bunk, and somehow the MOP smashed the phone's screen (so I conjectured). The warranty covered replacing the screen, but the new screen will take 3 weeks to come (coincidentally, the length of time I'll be in Brunei) and future replacements will cost $85 (not $100-$150 like what some people had told me).

Singapore's Wheel of Fortune is intolerable. I watched one episode and wanted to kick the television. The contestants speak english atrociously, kept using country names to make the host understand what letter they wanted (eg "T for Thailand, probably because their enunciation was so bad the host would have misunderstood otherwise), and are even more TSAF than me; I hope the host was being sarcastic when he complimented one contestant - "You're quite fast" - when she solved the puzzle only when one letter remained obscured.

Thanks to parallax error, I withdrew $1000 from an ATM. Gah.

I loved the survey - Business In China, for it debunked many commonly propagated myths about China and its impact on the world economy:

"China has 31 provinces, 656 cities, 48,000 districts, seven major dialects and 80 spoken tongues. Climate and geography vary from the freezing northern plateaus to the semi-tropical south. There are enormous disparities in income, education and lifestyle between city dwellers and farmers, and between the wealthy east coast and the poor west and north-east. For most products, there is no such thing as a national market. China's consumers are too dispersed, too inaccessible and too different from each other... Average disposable income per person was 4,520 yuan ($545), nowhere near the $5,000 level at which economists say discretionary spending takes off."


Do you believe in an afterlife? [Someone: No] You only believe in life after NS. That's your afterlife.

You all will carry out your ong activities (own)

[On water in Brunei] Please make sure that it is portable (potable)

[On the Lancer briefing] Go and give a speech [Me: On what?] [Someone: How to get downgraded] [Me: Go and die]

[On Lancer] There will be 2 slut... 2 flights

All of you are to note where you are sleeping (sitting)

[Me: 'It is a privilege to train in Brunei'] Fuck you, then don't send me there

[On the future launch of a photo scrapbook] We call it - the Armour Coffee Table Book [Someone: Coaster]

[Me on Movie Night: Would you like to see a Wo-hen music video?] Go and die... If you ever show it to me I'll skin you alive (one)

The Bruneian FAD [Ed: First Aid Dressing] has one big chop [on it] [Me: Halal]

[Me: Airpork is healthy and tasty] You get on the plane, then you become 'Airpork' (???)

Friday, April 02, 2004

I just ran over my toes with the wheeled-chair and my big toe is bleeding.

Knights of the Old Republic is fun. Even though it's a 3D game and the view is similar to that of an FPS, it only gives me slight motion sickness. Though I'm tripped up by this bug while leaving Taris...
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