looking for baudrillard, boorstin, or eco?

dare to hope for what is good
instead of what is merely good enough.
Dead in sin | Saved by grace | Living in hope | Walking by faith | Surviving on a prayer

+ sola scriptura + sola gratia + solus Christus + sola fide + sola Deo gloria +

mardi, novembre 30, 2004

 It may be Mandy Moore, but it's still good

Ninety miles outside Chicago - can't stop driving, I don't know why. So many questions that need an answer: two years later, you're still on my mind. Whatever happened to Amelia Earhart, who holds the stars up in the sky? Is true love just once in a lifetime - did the captain of the Titanic cry? Someday we'll know if love can move a mountain, someday we'll know why the sky is blue, someday we'll know why I wasn't meant for you. Does anybody know the way to Atlantis? Or what the wind says when she cries? I'm speeding by the place that I met you... for the 97th time, tonight. Someday we'll know why Samson loved Delilah, one day I'll go dancing on the moon, someday you'll know that I was the one for you. I bought a ticket to the end of the rainbow, and watched the stars crash in the sea. If I could ask God just one question: Why aren't you here with me, tonight?

I love the Amelia Earhart line - it's not a particularly famous story, which seems to suggest that she (and her story) must have meant something to the person who penned the song. I've listened to this song more times than I care to remember, and it's still one of my favourites.

[It may be Mandy Moore, but it's still good]
Sngs Alumni @ 30.11.04 { 0 comments }

lundi, novembre 29, 2004


Today, I am an idiot. Total, complete, idiot. I'm not sure I'm quite alright in the head.

Sngs Alumni @ 29.11.04 { 0 comments }

dimanche, novembre 28, 2004

 Another Crusade Gathering

It was Soojin's birthday, but it turned out that he wanted to keep it quiet, so when the gathering just happened to fall on the same day as his birthday, he requested that we keep it quiet. So Weilong bought a piece of Breadtalk bread (some pizza thing), stuck it on top of the game that we were playing (Tumblin' Monkeys - see picture below) and sang the birthday song while he looked mildly amused.

Crystal and the rest of family look well, which is good. Crys still looks like she needs some time before she will completely recover from her exhaustion, but it was a long term drain, so I guess it'll be a long-term recuperation period.

Potluck was exciting - Japanese curry, chicken from Cute Chicken, popiah from Sembawang Hills, vegetables from Novena Square, Betty Crocker brownies with ice-cream (sinful!), apple strudel, sweet and sour soup - amazing stuff! Potluck really does get better as you get older (and learn how to cook!) Weilong has pictures of the spread which he has promised NOT to share with us, though Serene might, since he brought SLR-conventional and she brought digital.

[Another Crusade Gathering]
Sngs Alumni @ 28.11.04 { 0 comments }

 Whoever wins, we lose

I'm still not watching The Brainwashing Phenomenon, but I know who are the finalists thanks to me watching A Civil Action last night on the telly. Just a few thoughts I wanted to jot down:

Main Entry: sly
Function: adjective
Inflected Form(s): sli·er or sly·er ; sli·est or sly·est
Etymology: Middle English sli, from Old Norse sl[oe]gr; akin to Old English slEan to strike -- more at SLAY
1 chiefly dialect a : wise in practical affairs b : displaying cleverness : INGENIOUS
2 a : clever in concealing one's aims or ends : FURTIVE b : lacking in straightforwardness and candor : DISSEMBLING
3 : lightly mischievous : ROGUISH
- on the sly : in a manner intended to avoid notice
synonyms SLY, CUNNING, CRAFTY, WILY, TRICKY, FOXY, ARTFUL, SLICK mean attaining or seeking to attain one's ends by guileful or devious means.

And the other guy: he joins the tau family:
taupok, tauguah, taugeh, tausuan, taufik.

I love tv.

[Whoever wins, we lose]
Sngs Alumni @ 28.11.04 { 0 comments }

samedi, novembre 27, 2004


The Children's Enrichment Camp (aka Vacation Bible Camp, aka Rickshaw Rally Racing To The Sun) is finally over! I had some kind of a weird cramp attack this morning - I was supposed to lead worship (with hand actions and jumping around and face contortions) but suddenly had cramps - not only could I not stand up, but I could not sit and bend over either - this attack had me curled up in the foetal position on the floor.

this sight would have you curled up in a ball in a corner too.

As a result, I was reduced to lying on the floor of the cry room (where I really felt like crying), and between groaning and praying really hard for the pain to just STOP, I was listening to the muffled sounds of Uncle Yew Leong leading the kids in worship. I think I sort of fell-asleep + passed-out halfway during the worship from the pain - it was hurting really badly in my stomach and my lower back, which is strange because menstrual cramps don't really work that way. Anyhow, reduced to a groaning lump of lard at 830am in the morning is not a particularly good way to start the day.

Xiao Ding Dang saying Konnichiwa!

Anyhow, after a bit of a snooze and pass-out, I got up and had to start decorating the main sanctuary by cannibalising every classroom's decor. It was tough with my tummy still not feeling too good, but better than the morning's attack. Unfortunately, that meant that in my weakened state, I could not wield totalitarian control over what I wanted to do with the decor of the place, so there was some things which were done without consulting me (how dare they!) *outrage*

Samuel (kor-kor) and Joel (kor-kor) registering the P4 kids on the first day

I am, thankfully, only half-kidding. We all managed to pool our brains together to figure out how to decorate the hall without too much fuss, and I'm proud to say that it didn't look half bad. When the parents came, I figured that they were more interested in watching out for their darlings and their sweetie-pies than watching out for the decor.

The theme banner in action!

The final day's programme was such a mess - information communication in this camp has been a total bitch - in fact, it has been an almost total blackout. Some people were not told this nor that, and people keep asking me things which make me go "I don't know," which is kind of stupid sounding after a while. When the words "I don't know" come out of your lips at almost every single question people ask, it's not too good - and when you don't even know who might be the one who would have the answers, that's just plain bad.

My rickshaw on stage in action.

Front profile of rickshaw, with Godzilla in front, and two neo-pet lanterns

Side profile of rickshaw

backish-side profile of rickshaw

Ms Vera Sng on the first day of camp

But what the hey, it's over, with me eating a copious amount of Strepsils, drinking a LOT of water, passing out on the floor, losing my voice on Thursday, and me learning how to interact and crowd-control children, I'd say it was a pretty full and interesting week.

Sngs Alumni @ 27.11.04 { 0 comments }

mercredi, novembre 24, 2004

 Books which rocked my world?

The first book which made me cry was in Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series - the Magic trilogy, to be precise. The books in that trilogy are: Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise, and Magic's Price. I've read most of her Valdemar books, and I like that her timelines are mostly broken up into trilogies, which makes locating them in libraries that much easier. (You can also try her Brainship series, which were interesting until The City That Fought.)

Continuing on in the same vein, Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain (more young adult than kids) is another fantasy book series worth looking into, as is Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising sequence. Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted, recently remade into a suckky movie, Margaret Mahy's The Changeover - ooh, this is a good one from the New Zealand author.

Issac Asimov - but only if you have the patience: the Foundation series has got to have at least 5 or 6 books, and TONS AND TONS of other short stories and essays on it. After that, if you're not tired, move on to his Robot series.

Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere and American Gods are on different wavelengths, but both good - Neverwhere especially, and if you want to see what he can do as a kid's author, pick up Coraline (young adult fiction), or The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish. And of course, not forgetting his 11-book series of Sandman graphic novels.

Nick Hornby's About A Boy, and Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

But the ultimate book for me seems to be the bible - opened it when I was small, still reading it now. No other book can boast that it's been to 10 different countries with me. :-)

(Next time leave your name! Or at least your URL so I can check out YOUR books.)

[Books which rocked my world?]
Sngs Alumni @ 24.11.04 { 0 comments }

 Rickshaw Rally: Day 1

Things are getting busier and busier! Day 1 of the kid's camp is finally here, (and I'm so busy I'm gonna plagarise myself.)

As a result of the songs, I've got a tune stuck in my head - it's the one that goes "Life without Jesus is like a donut, there's a hole in the middle of your heart", which is really catchy, but it's in my head on repeat, so maybe not.

I've also discovered that it is possible to perspire in an air-conditioned room while doing children's song routines, found out that sometimes admin slips do happen, like when kids sign up and pay up, their names may still sometimes not appear on the master registration list, that electronic piano pedals should not be plugged into the "output" channel, or the piano will not work, and also...- lost a lot of my voice. I'll probably lose it wholly on the penultimate day, which might be interesting as the 4th day (last day) is the concert.

What's the big deal about the voice? Other than the fact that I LOVE TO HEAR MYSELF TALK, I'm also in the music iwai (which means "Celebration" in Japanese.) This means singing for morning and evening worship, as well as teach FIVE rotations of classes each day! That's a lot of singing and actions. Jane Fonda, eat your heart out - the workout that I got today was amazing.

Oh, and I love Power 98. There was a screwup with the Budak Pantai tickets which I sent my poor parents to go watch since I was in Japan, and they didn't manage to collect it. (They salvaged the evening by getting tickets to watch another concert I think.) Anyhoooo, to cut a long story short (I told you I love to hear myself talk; I think perhaps I love to hear myself type too), I was offered compensation! Two tickets to watch Bridget Jones' Diary 2 - so I watched it tonight. Fantastic stuff there - the free tickets, I mean, not the movie, which was sort of blah-blah. I caught myself at least three times during the show wondering why I wasn't laughing so much - or at all. The jokes were okay, the punchlines fell rather flat, and I felt the soul of the first book/movie wasn't captured and engaged. Mark's side of the story wasn't told, and there doesn't seem to be anything positive about Bridget that would attract anyone, much less Mark (or Hugh Grant, who is absolutely WICKED in this role.) Ms Char (Jie Jie!) got to be the lucky receipient of The Other Ticket.

Blah-blah-blah review aside, it's worth a watch.

[Rickshaw Rally: Day 1]
Sngs Alumni @ 24.11.04 { 0 comments }

dimanche, novembre 21, 2004

 Must Dash

Busy! The Incredibles is good - worth every cent of $8.50. While you wait with bated breath for my next post (not!), here's a cool link to check out - http://www.wholivesnearyou.com - it's really literally finding out who lives near you in Singapore.

[Must Dash]
Sngs Alumni @ 21.11.04 { 0 comments }

mercredi, novembre 17, 2004

 Japanese Aside: Howl's Moving Castle!

Diana Wynne-Jones's Howl's Moving Castle has been anime-tised! I'm really excited about it because she's one of my favourite children/young adult writers (thanks to Dr S. Ang from the Lit department of NUS), and after I went away and thought about it - it's really fantastic that her best story (IMHO) to date has made it to film. After I thought about it some more - and I said this to Mei Yen - I think Japanese anime is the right medium for the very fantastical story.

Howl's Moving Castle

Adapted and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the guy who gave us famous stuff like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, I think this will be another runaway hit, and will hopefully spark and spur interest in Diana Wynne-Jones's books, which are excellent beyond belief. After seeing the shots of the movie (which is going to be released in Japan on November the 20th - oh why oh why did I not stay a while longer?) I think all her books should be anime-tised - they don't fit the typical white-man narrative style, which seems to be Japanese anime narrative written in English. What most traditional filmmakers would see as "impossible to adapt" material, Japanese anime filmmakers would see possibilities. Did anyone catch A Tree Of Palme a couple of years back in the Singapore Film Fest? That was bizarre, but DWJ's books are something like that. Hexwood, for example, was a book that was structurally designed for two readings - you HAD to read the book twice in order to understand it fully. Very unusual for a kid's book, but there you go - that's DWJ for you. (I'll put in the links later, I'm tired now.)

[Japanese Aside: Howl's Moving Castle!]
Sngs Alumni @ 17.11.04 { 0 comments }

 Tokyo, Japan: Day 6

Today, Mei Yen kindly took a day off (her once-a-month Personal Retreat Day under JCCC orders) and took me to Okutama, which is about 1.5hrs out of Mitaka. It's gorgeous! About an hour out of the city, and we were in mountain ranges already - with the gorgeous leaf colours. Leaves in Singapore have nothing compared to what temperate climates have - the leaves turn a million different shades of yellow, red, orange - God's creation and His spectrum of colours were truly fully used in all the trees I saw today! Beautiful stuff! We hiked a little bit as we walked around the very picturesque town, crossed a couple of bridges, and had lunch beside a river - we took off our shoes and socks, rolled up our jeans, and walked in the icy-cold water - another [insert superlative-adjective here] experience. My feet were numb after about 2 seconds in the water - Mei Yen actually walked about 20 steps before declaring surrender.

All this before arriving at our intended destination: the onsen. For those who don't know, the onsen is like a jacuzzi - except everyone's wearing their birthday suits instead of speedos. It's gender-segregated, so it's not x-rated, ad it's an experience that I highly recommend anyone who comes to Japan to try at least once.

The onsen which we went to made us remove our shoes before the front desk (individual lockers), pay at the front desk (Y650, or about SGD$10), where they gave us a locker key which we could use to keep our bags and stuff. We headed down towards the lockers, which was in a part of the onsen already gender-segregated. There, what you do is strip to the skin and put everything but your facial wash (and a towel to scrub, which I didn't have) into the locker, and go into another glass-partitioned room, which has a sit-down shower - think of a row of showerheads and taps all in a row, except at knee-height. This onsen provides body soap and shampoo, so we didn't need to bring them. You sit on a stool they have, and shower beside everyone else, then you get into one of the hot baths that they have in that room already. When you're ready for something new, you go OUTSIDE - yes, into the cold - and sit in another hot tub they have there.

I thought the place would be quite empty, seeing that it wasn't really in town, nor was it a weekend, but it was pretty packed today: plenty of hikers and oba-sans (old aunties) taking a muscle-relaxing soak, I guess. The water's hot - 40degC, but pretty great once you're into it. I was surprised that it wasn't hotter - I've gone into jacuzzis which really boiled my skin red, so I was rather pleasantly surprised that the water was a good temperature. I think we spent slightly over an hour in the onsen, and then we had to catch our train back to Mitaka. That was enough time for me to feel uncomfortably warm in the onsen - almost enough to start perspiring, so Mei Yen had a quick dessert in the cafeteria, and left to catch our train.

When I was in Nagoya in 2002, one of my fellow mission-trippers got us a dessert called Yuki Ichigo Mosume (Xue Mei Niang), and it was so wonderful that I told Mei Yen that I had to try some again this trip. So we made a stop at Tachigawa, a transfer station along the way back, visited the shop (inside the station) to get some of this wonderful dessert. It's something like a pau, except with thin flour skin on the outside, cream, and a strawberry on a bed of sponge cake. Heavenly. Ayumi (one of Mei Yen's roommates) was extremely delighted when I told her that I had bought a few for our dessert tonight - she was so happy, and kept making happy noises, which was extremely amusing, and shared her joy well.

We came back to a comedy of errors dinner - Ayumi had threatened me with a natto maki dinner (that is, smelly yellow beans wrapped in a sushi roll) the night before, and both Mei Yen and I were under the impression that she was going to make good on her threat. She, on the other hand, thought that she would spare me, since I made faces at the sound of the word natto, having been subjected to its strong flavour before at Nagoya. So we came back, expecting if not natto, at least maki, but there was only ramen, which hadn't been cooked. So we had to run out and get some stuff to make it a full meal - we had bought 5 delicious sticks of yakitori chicken earlier, which made our clothes smell, but it wasn't enough. We finally sat down to dinner at about 1945hrs, and watched Japan trash Singapore in a soccer match 1-0. (But we couldn't shout as loudly as the TV as I would have liked, since this is Japan and the walls are paper thin.)

Tomorrow, there's nothing on my agenda except pack my bag in a way that will best cushion my one precious bottle of Kirin afternoon milk tea (I don't see it in Singapore, but I have to admit I've not looked very hard), and how to carry my paper umbrella back to Singapore without getting it confiscated in customs. But I figured if Uma Thurman could carry a freaking SWORD back from Japan, why can't I carry a plain, harmless umbrella? (What am I supposed to do with it anyway? Open it on the plane? *gasp* *shock* *horror*)

[Tokyo, Japan: Day 6]
Sngs Alumni @ 17.11.04 { 0 comments }

mardi, novembre 16, 2004

 Tokyo, Japan: Day 5

Ohiyo! Genki desuka? (Basically "hey there, how you doing?")

I'm aching all over - I managed to get up at 4am this morning to head down to Tsukiji Wholesale Market, whose main star is tuna - lots and lots of huge, humongous TUNA FISH. Like this:


This isn't from my collection, I'll post those up once I've gotten them downloaded into my computer.

The fish are scary! They're HUGE! I'm sure I've told this story to a lot of my friends already - up until about JC, I always thought that tuna was the same size as sardines! Yes, it was because they were stacked side-by-side in the supermarket, in cans - sardines, tuna. So (naturally) I assumed that they were the same size. Someone asked me why didn't I ask why the tuna wasn't put into the cans like the sardines were - you know, packed like sardines - and I answered - it just never occured to me to ask. Talk about being a mountain tortoise.

The fish are so fresh that a couple of clams squirted me with water as they were pissed off at being caught, I saw an octupus undulate and try to squirm its way out of its net, and I saw live puffer fish! Not many around, but present nonetheless.

Yes, I had sushi for breakfast, but it was leftover from the previous night's dinner, and not fresh from the market - mainly because I was alone and wouldn't know how to order, plus I don't eat raw fish (pity, yes I know), and the market isn't exactly the most friendly-to-tourist nor navigable place on earth. I didn't know where the auction action hangars were until I stumbled upon them accidentally. Due to another unfortunate train mishap - I didn't understand that the train I was on at 5am was changing lines at station Yoyogi, or something like that, so I took a train about 4 to 5 stops over the changeover station, and finally reached Tsukiji at the late, late hour of 630am - and I still had to ask for directions. Normally I don't need to, but today I was kind of in a hurry to get to the fish before all the action was over, so I copped out and asked a storekeeper where the market was.

After Tsukiji, it was time to... spend 1.5 hours doing nothing but wait for the Hama-Rikyu Park to be open at 9am. I decided to find a toilet, and spent the next hour looking for one. To be precise, I was looking for McDonald's which had a huge billboard somewhere over the bridges. After an hour of searching, I had walked to another metro station (that far), and found two toilets, one Porche headquarters, and no McDonald's. Where are these yellow-and-red eyesores when you need them their toilets?

Into Hama-Rikyu Park, and a couple dozen timer-controlled shots later, I was waiting for the river taxi (boat lah) to bring me north, past 13 bridges, to Asakusa, where Sensoji Temple and the long shopping street called Nakamise Dori is. The company which operates this river taxi has some strange boats - there's one which looks like it's made out of bubbles, and seems like it could have come straight out of a Captain Planet episode.

I bought a paper umbrella at about SGD$10 - total steal! - for my church camp for kids - it's all red, so I think I'm going to colour it or paint it with flowers or something. Working holiday!

I then went to Ueno, where a great park used now for people to catch the cherry blossoms bloom is. Inside the Ueno Park is the Tokyo National Museum, where I spent the rest of my time - it chronicles the history of Japan through revolving exhibits, and it was quite insightful. Plenty of traditional kimonos, Noh and Kabuki costumes, and warrior battle armour.

By the time I finished the Tokyo National Museum, it was time to return home for a good long hot shower. And that's all I can blog tonight. You try waking up at 4 and see how you'll feel at 2230hrs that night.

[ETA - Yep, I'm using Frommers, only because the NLB didn't have a free copy of Japan/Tokyo's Lonely Planet.]

[Tokyo, Japan: Day 5]
Sngs Alumni @ 16.11.04 { 0 comments }

lundi, novembre 15, 2004

 Tokyo, Japan: Day 4

I did something stupid - I didn't double check the opening hours and days of the places which I wanted to visit. As a result, today I travelled almost 30 minutes to Akihabara (two stations before Ryogoku, my destination), and realised that the Edo Tokyo Museum and the Tokyo National Museum were both closed. Idiot, me. The strange thing is that I had changed my schedule around to accommodate another park which I knew was closed on Mondays - I didn't realise that all museums were closed, like Dark Nights in London theatre.

After walking around a little in Ryogoku (since I had paid for the train fare there already anyway), I decided to just continue on my planned itinery for the day and head for Harajuku's Meiji shrine, since shichi-go-san was on. I got there and walked to the shrine (encountered a Singaporean couple along the way and steered clear), and the kids are as cute as can be! Not many, because it was an absolutely gloomy, rainy day today, but the kids who were out were gorgeous! Many moms also dressed the occasions, in their kimonos, and that was so great too.

Another interesting sight today was a Japanese couple taking their wedding photographs at the Meiji shrine - in full traditional regalia. So I got a couple of photographs of a bride and groom in wedding clothes.

Then it was down to Harajuku following the walking tours in one of the guide books that Mei Yen has here (Frommers, not Lonely Planet). Although it was a Monday, there were huge crowds everywhere, and it was quite a tight squeeze on the trains. I walked around quite a lot in Harajuku - I think it's nicer than Shinjuku because it's got smaller shops and the nice little alleyways where you can explore at your own pace. Shinjuku is more Takashimaya, Kinokuniya etc - stuff that we can get back in Singapore. It's autumn-winter fashion now, so there's not much clothing stuff to buy - everything's hopelessly expensive anyway. They have international brands like Zara and GAP here, but again, the brand price plus the exchange rate just kills.

I think I spent the most time and the most money getting a kimono at Chicago - it's a used clothing store, and I just wanted to get a pretty kimono - and I managed to get one for about Y3000/SGD$45 - and that means one kimono (NOT a yukata - that's a summer, cotton kimono), one inner layer, one yukata obi, and one regular obi. In case you don't know this, that is a totally unbelievable bargain. Mei Yen said that a firsthand yukata would cost about Y7000/SGD$75 - and that's without the inner layer and kimono obi!

On food: I normally buy breakfast in the night before, lunch out, and cook dinner at home. All of my friend's roommates are great - they've really made me feel at home even though the quarters are very tight. Everyone buys an assortment of food and dumps it in the fridge, and every night we have rice, and dishes. The type of dish depends on who's cooking. So far, I've cooked taugeh with mushrooms in oyster sauce, I bought wantan to cook as a soup, and tomorrow I'll do ramen, with some help. It's all very laissez-faire, so long that someone cooks. :)

Tomorrow I'm getting up at 4am to go to Tsukiji Fish Market to watch the fish auctions - it's apparently a must-see event - and it happens everyday! HUGE tuna fish are auctioned off, and you can buy the freshest sushi and eat it there and then at the market. I'm looking quite forward to it - the train ride will take me half an hour, and I have to change trains to get there, and it's very early, and I hope it'll be worth it! (I hope I actually make it there, today I spent about an hour on two different trains which refused to take me to where I was going! Instead I got shuttled back and forth between Shinjuku and a station 4 stops away from where I stay. Frustrating? You bet.)

[Tokyo, Japan: Day 4]
Sngs Alumni @ 15.11.04 { 0 comments }

 Tokyo, Japan: Day 3

Went to visit Mei Yen's church today - all the way back at where her old apartment used to be, which is 1.5hrs away from where she stays now. I'm still getting used to the idea that Japan is a large place, and you can literally hop on a train and go Somewhere Else Far Far Away. This must make runaway kids a nightmare for parents, though it makes the prospect of a weekend getaway to somewhere like Kyoto or Hokkaido sound like a hop and skip away - because it is! Take the shinkansen (bullet train) and you're pretty much there in a couple of hours.

After church and lunch, we headed down to Harajuku to see the poor people in the square dressed as goths and other whatnot. I thought they'd break my camera if they saw me taking photographs, but Mei Yen assured me that they were there to be seen, and when asked, would actually pose quite gamely for shots. I just leeched off other photographers' shots - it was quite the sight to behold.

The Meiji shrine was nearby, and we got someone to take a shot of both of us together in front of it. Tomorrow's shichi-go-san, which is 7-5-3, where kids the ages of 7, 5 and 3 dress up and go to the shrines to get blessed. My camera's gonna be at the ready tomorrow! We saw two kids dressed up today, and oh my, they were unbelievably kawaii!

Then it was off to another ubiquitous Starbucks for a quick drink and a chat, then to Uniqlo (crowded) and Gap (even more crowded and even more expensive) to take a quick gander, and then it was time to head back home for a home-cooked meal. (We cook lah, then what?)

[Tokyo, Japan: Day 3]
Sngs Alumni @ 15.11.04 { 0 comments }

samedi, novembre 13, 2004

 Tokyo, Japan: Day 1 and Day 2

I'm blogging in Japan! As per Mei Yen's request. The flight here was at a terrible hour, but I had an interesting seatmate - a Christian minister who, by his own admission, had been to Japan "at least 45 times" in his lifetime, because his church in Hawaii had planted at least 6 churches in Japan.

We didn't talk much, but when we did, I asked him about his life (he adopted his eldest daughter who is Korean German, and his youngest daughter is going into campus ministry once she graduates next year), and asked him if he had been to Israel etc. "Three times," he said. I asked him if it were safe, and he said yes - relatively. The Israelites have a vested interest to keep the place safe, because tourism accounts for almost all their income. Once a place is deemed "unsafe" by the government (of Israel, or of any other country), people stop visiting, which means no income. This sounds very cool, since I'm thinking of going there in July.

Customs took an hour, which made me miss my bus to Kijijoji station - I had to wait an hour for the next bus. In the meantime, I bought a telephone card, which DIDN'T WORK for the duration of the time I was in the airport. I spent 45 minutes trying to call Mei Yen, and finally gave up and used coins. A kind airport official helped this stupid suspicious looking gaijin telephone the company and ask what was up with the telephone. A voice on the other end explained that the phonecard was actually meant for overseas calls, and the access number that I had to dial was therefore sometimes very busy.

A two hour nauseating bus ride to Kijijoji later, I met Mei Yen, and yay! am in her lovely neighbourhood of Mitaka. I spent the next day pretty much recovering from the travel trauma (not that bad actually, but the bus ride really wiped me out), and spent the rest of the time familiarising myself with her neighbourhood. And that's pretty much it!

Oh, and I can't make it to Nagoya anymore - that's the location of my very first mission trip EVER in 2002 - because of some scheduling problems - the persons whom I want to visit will not be free to meet me, so I now have two extra days in Tokyo than I planned. I'm sure I'll find a way to while away the time. Cheaply, I hope. :)

[Tokyo, Japan: Day 1 and Day 2]
Sngs Alumni @ 13.11.04 { 0 comments }

vendredi, novembre 12, 2004

 Tokyo, Japan!

And... I'm off to Tokyo, Japan in 3.5 hours! My taxi comes in an hour's time. This is exciting! I'll see you guys when I get back... hopefully alive. This trip is incredibly haphazard and tightly-budgeted: not the best of combinations. Mata-ne! (see you later!)

[Tokyo, Japan!]
Sngs Alumni @ 12.11.04 { 0 comments }

jeudi, novembre 11, 2004

 What Unemployed People Do #2

(btw, there's a new post below this one, due to my anal desire to keep my blog chronological accurate)

Well, first they visit sick kids in hospital...

Poor Zach got hospitalised for a viral infection,
after he caught something called the "kissing disease".
Yes, he's a very sociable young guy. And he's my pastor's son. :)

Then they spend all their time in church, working on Vacation Bible School props and decorations.

What's VBS? Well...

And what have I been doing?

Painting stuff! With the help of the lovely Ms Claire and her bevy of friends - well, actually her brother's friends, but they're twins, so I guess they really do share everything. Claire, Kevin, Ambrose and Jiansheng (? Couldn't catch his name, kept asking it till I was too embarrassed to ask any more.) Like this:

The VBS's Theme:
Rickshaw Rally Racing to the Son

Doraemon saying a big HI

Godzilla and Ultraman fighting it out beside Mt Fuji

Claire putting the finishing touches on one of the Pokemon characters
(I don't know any of them besides the yellow Pikachu, I apparently coloured
the blue fellow wrongly - it's supposed to be a light pink, Claire tells me. Oh well.)

My attempt at making an actual rickshaw - it looks a lot more like
a rickshaw now, this picture was taken yesterday, and a lot has changed.

Kevin and Jiansheng (?) papering the Japanese screen with rice paper

My minions kakis doing work - cutting up the styrofoam wheels
for the rickshaw (recycled from the church food and funfair booths -
Charmaine's "kueh" booth, actually. You can see the multicoloured
spray paint that she used to write the ad.) You can see Jo in the
left hand corner giving a hand too - thanks A. Jo!

I'm tired and sticky and gross after the four days of working in the non-aircon room, where I could not switch on the fans because it would mean paper blowing all over the place (not to mention those irritating small balls of styrofoam that come when you cut styrofoam with a penknife), but hey, it's all gonna be worth it. Actually, seeing how my work turned out is pretty satisfying already. I hope the kids like them.

A big thank you Claire, Kevin, Ambrose and Jiansheng(?)!

[What Unemployed People Do #2]
Sngs Alumni @ 11.11.04 { 0 comments }

mercredi, novembre 10, 2004

 What Unemployed People Do #1

They go to their ex-workplace's piano performance at Victoria Concert Hall. Excellent music, great people.

Then, they go celebrate their friend's birthday party - and watch him collapse after smoking gazillion sheeshas (each one is equivalent to 18 3.0.CO;2-0" target=_blank>cigarettes!) *

[Actually, some WHO official said that 1 sheesha is equivalent to 50 cigarettes, which sounds a little over the top to me, but hey, who's to argue with WHO?]

Wassup brother? Az looking loopy after
48 hours of no sleep - thanks to the boys in blue

... and here he is again, totally wiped out - and it was only midnight! Though I
bet if I put an Xbox console in his hands, he'd wake up really suddenly :)

* Interesting quote for you:

The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at
last the Caterpillar took the hookah (aka sheesha) out of its mouth, and
addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice ... 'Who are YOU?' said the
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - by Lewis Carroll

[What Unemployed People Do #1]
Sngs Alumni @ 10.11.04 { 0 comments }

mardi, novembre 09, 2004

 What happens when you quit your job...

... you read statistics and come up with stupid new ones.


Total Population: 4 240 300 (A)
Total female/male population: (A) / 2 = 2 120 150 (B)
Total Christian population: (B) x 15% = 318 022 (C)
Total population between 20-29yrs old (i.e. "date-able"#) : (C) x ~6% = 19 081 (D)
Total date-able population minus MARRIED/ATTACHED people: (D) x 44.3% = 8 453 (E)

* Singapore Christian Population approximate 15%: US Department of State
* Total Population, demographic age-range population, General Marriage Rate stats from
# I realise this is a controversial figure, but it is sort of according to social norms. Not to say that 20-something girls aren't dating guys who are 45, but for the sake of argument and simplicity, let's leave it at 20-29 years.

So we're left with 8 453 people left to date. This number includes backsliders and non-church-goers, and people whose personalities will just not gel with you (and people with halitosis and other such unfortunate ailments) - subtract away this number, and subtract away the opposite gender Christians who are between the ages of 20-29 whom you already know, and you'll be looking at a very interesting number, methinks.

This art-tickle brought to you by numerous conversations with Crusade friends, and a friend whose name starts with D. Oh, and this other article "Dateless in Christianville", from Christianity Today.

[What happens when you quit your job...]
Sngs Alumni @ 9.11.04 { 0 comments }

lundi, novembre 08, 2004

 More personality tests!

You are Red Hat Linux. You're tops among your peers, but still get no respect from them.  It's all right with you.  You have your sights set higher.

You are .doc You change from year to year, just to make things tough on your competition.  Only your creator really has a handle on you.

You are Kairet Mustapha.  You have a heart full of anxiety and sorrow.  Your husband was the Chief Security Officer for the ex-President of Nigeria.  You have $30 million in an account in Ghana though you can't afford a comfortable meal.  You want to give me 20%.

[More personality tests!]
Sngs Alumni @ 8.11.04 { 0 comments }

dimanche, novembre 07, 2004

 Is this it for BitTorrent?

Once you're a file-sharing program profiled more than once on Wired.com, your time is probably fast running out. This article seems to suggest that it's time for BitTorrent to take a hit soon - I cannot believe the statistics on it! According to the author, torrent filesharing takes up 35% of ALL internet traffic! In case you've been living in a cave, that's a hell of a lot of bandwidth to eat, for ONE program. It's massive!

[Is this it for BitTorrent?]
Sngs Alumni @ 7.11.04 { 0 comments }

 Must Read

The Tale of the Pap Piper. (no, not that Pap, the other PAP.)

And I want! Ella Minnow Pea: A Progressively Lipogrammatic Epistolary Fable by Mark Dunn.

[Must Read]
Sngs Alumni @ 7.11.04 { 0 comments }

 Destination: Unknown

Do you ever get the sense that you're hurtling toward a murky destination somehow known somewhere deep within your heart? I feel like that.

I wanted to say "I feel like that NOW", but I realise that it's not the case. I have been feeling like this for a very long time - that anything I do before I get to that One Big Thing is just time-wasting: which is why I really like the analogy that our life is just one big dress rehearsal before that huge party in the sky when we get to heaven - everything that we do on earth to glorify ourselves is really honestly inconsequential because of the hereafter. There is a heaven!

I'm terrified and strangely exhilarated by this destination.

Listening to: FFH - Follow Love

[Destination: Unknown]
Sngs Alumni @ 7.11.04 { 0 comments }

samedi, novembre 06, 2004

 KillMeNow #12: The End (or is it?)

It's my last day of work today! And I'm tired. Spent most of it mopping up messes in meeting after meeting (check out that alliteration!), went out for a quick final lunch with my colleagues, took picture after picture after picture with many teachers and students, said goodbye to everyone at 5.30pm, THEN stayed back to clear the final pieces of paperwork and do a last backup for personal data on the computer.

I didn't feel anything different when the day started, but I started missing the place and the people more and more as the day wore on. I will definitely miss some of the students and faculty who have become friends, and my closer colleagues of course, but there was something else which ran underneath it all - the fear of Monday.

I'm not scared what will happen on Monday per se - in fact, I'm busy all the way till the 2nd week of December, and even then, I'm only free for a while until Christmas gets in full swing, and then I'll be starting school. Now I'm just wondering about the security of having a job and having a stable income, but education is an investment, isn't it? And like any good, safe investment, it's got to be a long-term investment, right? So since it's like a long-term financial investment, I'm bound to get my principal back, and interest.

Incredibly sleepy because I worked till 830pm, then went to church because there's a food and fun fair tomorrow. I'm a DJ! Go if you're free hor: Thomson Road Baptist Church, Novena MRT then walk a little more. 9am-4pm only! :-)

[KillMeNow #12: The End (or is it?)]
Sngs Alumni @ 6.11.04 { 0 comments }

jeudi, novembre 04, 2004

 A Shark's Tale - for free

So, I'm really using my brains to play radio games, and am gonna watch Shark Tale tonight with Fang Ting because I knew the 0.2 second clip they played was "Again" by Janet Jackson.

And the amazing thing is - I also know where the $9,800 is, but I can't call in because I'm not allowed to win another prize from them for the next 30 days. I KNOW WHERE THE $9,800 is!!! Someone won it already... bummer.

And seriously, Shark Tale is gooooood. Forget about what the papers tell you - the jokes are sophisticated (a colleague said that the jokes are a little too sophisticated for kids to understand, but I say don't underestimate kids), and the plot works, no matter how many comparisons with Finding Nemo turn out.

One thing which was immensely cute was how much the characters in the movie looked like their voice counterparts - the hustler fish looked like Will Smith, the Dragon Fish has Angelina Jolie's pouty lips, Robert De Niro as a Godfather Great White Shark is hilarious, Reneé Zellweger's angelfish has her eyes, and Jack Black as the gay vegetarian shark is almost unwatchable because you'll be laughing too much.

Hey pal, you're just the shark slayer, not Buffy,
so don't pull an Angel on me and go bad now...

And I just realised that the other show which I watched on Power 98's account was i.Robot, which is coincidentally, another Will Smith show. Maybe this is good karma from watching all those Fresh Prince episodes a long time ago.

'sup, man!

[A Shark's Tale - for free]
Sngs Alumni @ 4.11.04 { 0 comments }

mardi, novembre 02, 2004

 Seriously kids...

Seriously kids, Firefox rocks. the. house.

Get Firefox!

Just in case you're wondering what it is: it's a browser, like Internet Explorer. Based on Mozilla (read: more stable.) These were the people behind Netscape (before it went bad.) It rocks, and the logo's pretty darn nifty too! Firefox... mmm... I like the sound of that.


[Seriously kids...]
Sngs Alumni @ 2.11.04 { 0 comments }

lundi, novembre 01, 2004

 February? Come again?

So the NUS Sports Club Biathlon's gonna be held on the 20th of February 2005. And I just went jogging again on Friday, 29th of October 2004. There's still 3 more months to go! That's 60km around NUS again and again and again. Phew.

Good news is, this time, I wasn't so winded, and neither did my stitches threaten to kill me until I was D-E-D dead, though the jog is still was a mind-over-matter thing for me. 40 minutes to get through the whole campus - not an improvement on time, but an improvement on survival rate. I think my breathing's still getting too heavy too soon, but I guess that will improve once the fitness level goes up. The body still looks the same though, but I have to confess that I don't feel so guilty now when I look at the pot belly. "Hey, at least I'm doing something about you instead of sitting on my fat ass the whole day," I tell it when it looks up at me and jiggles.

Oh! And today begins my final week at work. I have mixed feelings, of course, but the feeling of relief is most palpable. I don't think that management out there in other jobs are any better, but I'll be sure to at least find a job where there's actual career advancement opportunities for me, instead of shoving myself in some nook or cranny living from one paycheck to the next, waiting to die. Life is too short, and God gave up too much for me to be stuck in one corner fixing doors and benches, and calling up repairmen and toilet cleaners. No sir. Let some other person who actually wants to do estate management do this crap. I'm packing up my youthful idealism (no, no, they can't take that away from me) and taking this show on the road - all the way to Boon Lay (and a shuttle bus), that is. Is it bad karma to apply for a job at Microsoft? :-)

[February? Come again?]
Sngs Alumni @ 1.11.04 { 0 comments }

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Musings on Rick Warren's Purpose-Driven Life (PII)


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Stuff I'd Like
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