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All the about Pkchukiss's life in the Singapore Armed Forces

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The burgler alarm

There is a huge disparity between talking your talk, and walking it.

And I can really feel the resistance.

I still remember how my parents told me about the wonderful stories in their childhood days spent in wooden huts, more commonly known as kampongs. About how they used to be devoid of all the technological wonders that we take for granted everyday: the television, computers; even radios were luxury items ill-afforded by the more well to-do.

The families in the kampong would gather together, shoot the breeze, share recepies, help to watch over jade bracelets (considered the heirlome of families in those days), and essentially mingle together for no apparent reason, and still manage to have fun. Security was never an issue, since the bond between neighbours were so close that newcomers to town would stick out like a sore thumb.

This spirit cannot be replicated in these brick and mortar high-rise flats, where neighbours don't even know they live next to each other, and front doors are kept tightly shut in the day to keep in the air-conditioning. Of course, there are artificial substitutes for these traditional interactions, but really, instant messenging cannot replace the direct human interaction.

In fact, things are so bad that families get burgler security systems (so totally unheard of in the early days), which then go off with neighbours not giving a care in the world; no one bothers to step out of their house, go over to the unit to check on their neighbours. What if they were really robbed?

In case you were wondering why I am writing this, it is because the exact same thing is happening to one of my neighbours. I was about to go out to check, when I felt waves of resistance overcoming me:

What if it is just a false alarm?
What if the burglers are armed?
What if...

I didn't go out. I was paralysed by the typical Singaporean mindset: that it was none of my business when strangers get robbed.

It is really strange. I've read angry newspaper forum letters lamblasting the inaction by passer-bys in the face of injustice, and I was really sure at that time that I would do the right thing if I were to be around a crime scene. Instead, when it happens to me, I just stood there as a spectator.

Now what if my neighbours were really robbed? The alarm has fallen silent by now (cut by the burglers?), and I just sit here typing this confession.

All the training in national service - defending the nation from aggressors is total nonsense, especially so when I stood passively while a burgler alarm echoed throughout the block.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Ever wondered where all your blog comment spam came from?

Here's the answer: (Undesirable link)

A recent phenomenon on the Internet, blog spam is not only distracting and irrelevant to the topic at hand, it is also a blatant abuse of the blog owner's web space, bandwidth, and his site's reputation. Once these bad guys manage to fill the comments with enough spam, the owner's blog is reduced to a mere wisp on the Internet existence, where search engines and visitors shun alike.

Yet here we have unscrupulous vendors selling programs that automate the posting of such menaces on blogs.

I leave his mailbox to your devices.

Friday, December 02, 2005

ORD Function

The time is approaching fast.

Soon, most of the guys in the battalion are going to be civilians real soon, braving the storms of the working world. One where the only uncertainty is the only certainty.

No jobs laid out on a silver platter for the taking. Instead of being told what to do, for once, they would have to learn to navigate the course of Life by themselves.

It is their future at stake: already, some are blemished with a prison record for being absent from service without official leave. Some get into accidents. Some have passed on.

I wonder, how many of us would see each other again? Though I still have some way to go before I ORD, many of us would have gone on to greener pastures, become rich and famous, or simply dropped from the radar

We had our ORD function yesterday at the Neptune Restaurant, an unnoticeable existence among the endless row of glass facades along the business belt of the Central Business District. The building was unassuming, which partially disappointed, since we actually paid a whopping $70 for the entire event. (I wasn't totally disappointed, since this is a camp organised affair, I have learnt to keep my expectations low enough.)

I met the rest at the nearby Raffles Place MRT station, from where we streamed against an incessant home-bound crowd. They seemed to be in perpetual hurry, and kept knocking into us. In customary Singaporean fashion, the inevitable crossing of paths is met with a cold stare, a barely mouthed apology. Rinse, dry, and repeat with the next stranger.

In the same vein, Singaporeans are notoriously late. The event was slated for 6.30pm, yet at around 7.15, barely half the restaurant has arrived. We took the opportunity to take photographs with the RSM (Regimental Sergeant Major) and the CO (Commanding Officer). Those turned out red-eyed, and gave everyone who was in the picture a soulless look. Photoshop made all the difference.

Some parts of Scout platoon
Some parts of Scout platoon

Sam, Sylvester, TYS and Teck Guan

Sam, Sylvester, TYS and Teck Guan

Photograph with the CO
Photograph with the CO

... yet another photograph with the CO
Another one...

Photograph with RSM
Photograph with RSM

I remembered to drop my lucky draw ticket stub into the bowl, and arrived at my designated table to find it fully occupied. Along with a few other displaced platoon mates, I went to an unoccupied table, where we got a sound reprimand for not following the seating arrangement.

The proceedings of the event is documented by Timothy in his blog, so I won't be a tired old copycat. Instead, I will focus on the food. I forgot to take photographs of the dishes: I got pretty engrossed with the stage, even as the
food disappeared within moments of being served.

The appetiser consisted of spring rolls, curry puffs, some minced pork cooked with herbs and rolled into rolls. The guys at my table were content to leave exactly ONE piece untouched on the plate, which I gladly polished off. There were some whole pieces of chili cut into decorations, but nobody touched them. (I am sure Mother would have. She loves eating chili at its rawest.)

Next came the sharks fins (I presume). Again, nobody took the last bowl, and I was forced to finish it by the waitress, who could not get the others to take it.

The fried rice was unexpectedly dry and tasteless, which surprised me. This coming from a caterer which charges $21 for a plate of chicken rice, is really a revelation. Nobody is good at everything. We had some fish and broccoli to go with the rice. This time, I had to compete for the broccoli. These guys seem to like it as much as I do. I still remember eating 3 servings of unwanted broccoli some time back...

The dessert came around midway through the magic show, but I was so enthralled by the illusions that I didn't notice it coming. It was when the same waitress came along the second time to collect the bowls that I found my mango pudding untouched, just waiting to tango with my mouth.

The highlight of the night was a highly-energised dance by a Caucasian group. The dancers belted out high octane moves and jumps that would look very impressive on a standing broad jump record. The dancers always managed to land within centimetres from the edge of the stage, and for a while, I thought that they would miss, and jump right onto one of the dining tables.

Like Timothy mentioned, the ladies bared their mammaries in an artistic dedication to their art. The grace of their movements really astounded me. Their slim legs could kick so high, I thought that they would hit their heads. The difficulty is raised by the high heels, yet they spin without hesitance. They could lift off the ground, and land without making a mis-step.

The entire event ended with the drawings for the top 10 lucky draw prizes. They had given out 20 prizes so far, and barely one of the drawn tickets came close to my range.

A toaster came and went, HQ CSM won a cappuccino maker. All the prizes so far had gone to tickets 80XX, 81XX and 86XX.

The 2nd prize got claimed, and we did not think that it was possible at all for one of us to claim the top prize.

The emcee grabbed a bunch of tickets, and hurled it in the air for CO to catch the winning ticket. He barely managed to grab the last one.

The emcee looked at the fallen tickets on the floor: "82XX will go home empty handed. 81XX will hold his hands and they will both leave together," he commented dryly, to the audience's laughter.

He then took a look at the winning ticket.

"Oh, look at this. It is a nice number. A repetition."

"The first prize goes out to 8...."

"Remember, this person might not be here."

"8........ 3."

The person sitting next to me pointed to my ticket excitedly. "Look, you have a chance!"

"I must stress again, the person might not even be present today."

"8...... 3...... 3."

"8.... 3....3... 8! Come on up!"

The winning ticket: 8338
The winning ticket

I was in shock. I stared at my ticket again to make sure that it really was 8338 printed on it. Then, I dashed up the stage to claim the prize. I was in such a daze that I didn't notice my own platoon mates sneaking up on me. They sneaked up on me, and grabbed me to give me a sound poling...

... and again.

... poled again!

The television was rather large, so I am grateful that Timothy kindly sent me, together with the large box, home.

Timothy, Zi Yang and me

Timothy, Zi Yang and me

Qi Xiang, me, Boon Keong, Joey and Timothy
Qi Xiang, me, Boon Keong, Joey and Timothy

The TV

The TV

My Pen

I don't scribble. To me, having to deal with the most minute flaws in the ink is a terrible torture. Every inflection, every curve that is not filled nicely with ink always irk me to no end. That is why my friends all gape at my pencil boxes in astonishment the few times they manage to get a sneak peek.

No less than 6 different models lie comfortably in the tight confines of the cloth. However, the extent of my collection cannot be defined by those few that I carry with me. Instead, I boast a neat collection consisting of various budget ink, gel, and ballpoint pens.

Of which I use only one.

The pen is perfect when I pick it up from the shop. The smooth writing sensation titillates my senses, a sort of an obsession. Then comes the crunch of everyday life, which never fails to trip it up, spluttering with unreliability. This frustrates me so much that I abandon the pen (at home if possible), and immediately rush down to the nearest stationary giant to acquire a new love.

Yet one pen has managed to capture my heart, for a far longer time than the other pens had. Not only has it provided the much needed smooth mileage, it has also accompanied me through countless outfield trainings, scratched through its outer-shell, soaked thoroughly during the enduring thunderstorms. There is only one problem.

I just lost that pen.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Office work — R & D (Regimentation and Discipline)

I have not had interest in blogging for some time now. Two weeks to be exact.

It is probably just fatigue, because you can't really have time for yourself when you are out there doing other stuff.

I experienced first-hand being a clerk at one of the staff branches in camp. There is a lot more freedom than being in the combat side, where my every single move was monitored constantly, and I could take short breaks as and when I liked without the risk of being accused of malingering. I also like the shredder in the office: especially how it takes pieces of paper and turns them into little christmas confetti with a menacing growl.

But nothing beats sleeping-in back in bunk, going for the occasional run to up-keep my fitness, and then gorging myself on expensive mess food to satisfy my stomach — but I get along. I am convinced that I have a morbid obsession with the shredder, especially since I managed to shred a box of old documents within the time it took the sun to set on Wednesday.

No matter what, the fact remains that I do one of the detested job of the battalion, assisting in the charging of defaulters, and sending them to the Detention Barracks, ceremony and handcuffs: the works. Not only is there plenty of paperwork to do (it is rumoured that 50% of the entire army's charge records came from my battalion), I come face to face with detainees as they enter the bane of the entire service: detention.

I see the obvious fear on their faces as the Military Police started them on their strict regimentation right from the start.

Now if you have not seen what happens to the detainees in the DB, here is a story by the Straits Times (posted on a local JC forum board).

Here's a piece of advice to all 18 year old boys doing, or about to do your National Service: please don't break the law, either by being Absent Without Official Leave, or by stealing, etc. It hurts you and your parents the most. Paperwork is but a small matter which I can handle, but it is the thought of having to send somebody to the lock up that hurts me the most.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Fear: The enemy of success

Frequent readers of motivational books would surely be familiar with the trumpet to action.

That the need to be actively taking action for success is not surprising: in fact, it is an important pre-requisite. All those lofty ambitions and careful plans are nothing but castles in the air if they born into the physical world. Yet we keep ourselves paralysed by the stifling cloud of fear and procrastination.

Personally, fear is a tough enemy to defeat. It never fails to seek out my vulnerabilities, and to exploit it like a crack in the hole. It encourages procrastination by casting doubts on my capabilities, rubbing it in liberally with its incessant nagging. It is annoying, and should have been in itself a compelling enough reason to incite me to cast this enemy aside. Yet I find myself pausing to entertain the spectre of negativity that it creates, effectively neutralising the positive encouragements that I harbour. Sometimes, I even get consumed by fear itself, preferring to hide myself under the covers of the bed, totally shut out from the world.

What I have failed to realise is that fear plays no actual part towards the achievement of my goals. Instead of focusing me upon the task at hand, I am detracted into a damaging exercise in mis-trust with myself, eventually achieving its aim (ironically) when I fail to achieve mine. So, from now on, I promise everybody to not ever give a thought to this distracting troll.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

SOC remedial training

Inspired by the writing frenzy generated by the over-heated competition that is the [ :: NaNoWriMo :: ], I have decided to dust the thick layer of mold off my series of unfortunate events, and to kick-start my sad story.

I had remedial training this Saturday, and this was done under the shadow of the glee those who had just passed their test on Friday. I felt a little upset at my poor performance, but credit goes to today's training, that I have finally come to realise the mental state that had previously ensured my peak performances in the past.

In fact, it was quite a coincidence that I re-discovered it at all, since I was quite frustrated at being one of the few to be still under the spectre of having to go through the standard obstacle course.

I ran the first 2 km as the warm up round, and I started walking at the 1.5 km mark, which was quite disappointing. As the Officer Commanding put it to me before, I didn't look tired or over-worked, so it must have been a mental block. I have never disagreed with him on that. I knew that by recovering my breath, I could start running again, until I lose my momentum again just metres down the road.

I knew that this couldn't be my maximum performance, so I decided to try a new tack.

For the next 3 rounds of 800 metres, we were to sprint up and down the road, beating the time of 4:30. For the first round, I tried to burst all my energy in the first lap, which severly crippled my finishing run. I came back last, sporting stiches around my left waist, and severly out of breath. Plus, Friday's dinner threatened to come out of my rear. I ended up paying a visit to the toilet, which made me miss the second round. But the loo-trip proved rewarding.

I realised that the key to my peak performance laid simply upon my legs. I only had to concentrate on it, and continually seeking to understand the fatigue that builds up in all physical activities: that is sufficient enough to take my mind off the breathlessness, and pull myself along for a much longer period of time.

I tried this re-discovery for the third round. As I sprinted, I still had my stiches, I still felt breathless, my legs were still burning as usual, but I was struck by a new thought: that I was able to tolerate it ¡ª for the very first time since a long time ago! To prove to myself that my old fitness is back, I reached the end point far earlier than anybody else.

The rest of the training session suddenly became that much easier for me. I could clear the obstacles faster, recover with the swiftness of a springboard, and cut through the tough ones like a hot wire through butter. Need I say I came back first again? (Ok, so I didn't take into account the fact that the few who participated today were not exactly expected to pass anytime soon. But, don't you agree that it is a major achievement?)

Watch out, Sylvester. I am going for the company best timing, 9:02

P.S. If you were wondering, I wrote this post in a record time of 11 minutes, without spell-check, nor stopping to read whatever I have streamed out on the keyboard. All in the name and honour, and of course the spirit of NaNoWriMo! (I won't be doing a 50, 000 word novel though. This is the best tribute I could spare, so enjoy!)

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I probably am going to regret ever bragging about my [ :: IQ test results :: ].

You see, now I am caught in the middle of a inter-branch fight for my services. Plus, I volunteered to edit the battalion ORD magazine (ORD is the term used to describe the end of full-time national service, and the return to the civilian world. Until the next call-up, that is.) To further complicate matters, I was selected for some computer simulation exercise. It is gone now, but just looking at all the work suddenly piled upon me, I think that it is probably a better idea to play the same dumb, stealthy, quiet boy in-the-back-of-the-classroom that I did in school. Did I mention that I still have to clear my Standard Obstacle Course?

You heard me, Timothy. I cannot do Javascript. My grasp of the English language totally stinks. I look forward to doing nothing in the office, taking offs whenever there is SOC or ACCT (Advanced Close Combat Training), playing games whenever I have work to do. Thanks for having me!

Monday, October 31, 2005

18 year olds: Teenager Armed Forces

National service at a tender age of 18 is surely a huge amount of responsibility for the young minds that are still beginning to come to grips with the whiplashes of human relationships, gradual realisation of the many undercurrents moving the world. Not only are they forced to grow up quickly, they also learn inter-personal skills, such as back-stabbing, avoiding extra work through various antics, and a penchant for the ultimate escape from reality: sleep.

But is 18 years old a mature enough age for a teenager to bear arms?

I asked all these at the same time as I witnessed a 5-tonner truck reversed into my Company Sergeant Major's car.

The tonner, already filled to the brim with passengers, was about to leave the camp. The driver put the vehicle in reverse gear, and forgetting about the Toyota in the blind spot, must have stomped upon the accelerator, since everybody could hear the engine roar from the sudden rev. This was followed by a sickening sound of metal striking metal, and the screeching sound of protesting metal.

The impact caused the relatively new Toyota to be dragged a few metres, with its bonnet totally crushed in.

Now, cars in Singapore are extremely expensive black-holes for money. To secure one, a person first needs to bid for a certificate of entitlement from the government, of which the price floats around SGD$30, 000 (Around US$17, 000), before being eligible to purchase a car. To make things worse, these little pieces of paper only last 10 years, after which it must be renewed at the prevailing price. Can you even begin to imagine the mental anguish?

The spectators cheered, either at the the prospect of having another gambling inspiration from the car's licence plate, or they must hate the encik (a malay word which commonly used to refer to Company Sergeant Major) very much.

This, coming from the people who bear arms, and drive heavy-load vehicles. The wielders of lethal force.

Simply magnificent.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sick: again.

I am ignorant when it comes to matters of personal health.

I don't wash my hands whenever I pick up finger food from the tray (though I make the effort to soap my hands before major meals), I shake people's hands, and then neglect to wash mine. I rub my eyes with my fingers after hours at a time striking the keys of my keyboard... the list goes on.

Now, [::: a new discovery :::] to the complete health idiot here reveals that excessive work-outs do affect a person's immune system.

In fact, I am experiencing it right now, first hand.

Still remember the [:: headache I had yesterday morning ::]? It's back, with a vengance. And it is not alone. Phelgm and nasal unmentionables stand astride. All these, thanks to my hygiene habits after a week of back to back Standard Obstacle Course tests and trainings.

Updated: Ambiguity that could be construed as an insult to my friend. Phelgm does strange things to my writing.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Yet another meme

Ok, so I got shot by this little meme (that's what they are called):

Rules of the game: Post 5 Weird and Random Facts about yourself, then at the end list the names of 5 people who are next in line to do this.

  1. I am obsessed with current affairs, and history.

    That always makes for a boring day with my friends, most of whom roll their eyes when I start talking about DeLay (and NO! The capitalisation is correct!)
  2. I have a shy persona:

    The internal cogs that turn me still keep me from opening up, except to my close friends. However, I can make friends fine, which is a tremendous improvement from the past, when I was the person sitting there waiting to be acquainted. My friends can also attest to how lame my jokes can really get.

    "It's snowing in Singapore!" - close friend from my secondary school.
  3. I live on the 16th storey:

    ... which could shock dear readers from countries without tall public housing.
  4. I love peanut biscuits:

    Hitting the chart is a mundane and uninteresting trivia of mine: I absolutely love Julie's Peanut Biscuits. Nobody bakes biscuits like Julie!
  5. I now have many City Harvest Church friends

    ... for a Buddhist. I can't find anybody who is in this interesting piece of trivia. But that is the point of this meme: pure trivia.

I now fire the arrows at



Han Xian

Ming Guang

Kin Chung

6th division anniversary

My cell phone (Side note to concerned alarmist: also known as a "handphone", which has entirely nothing to do with terrorists) woke me up at the crack of dawn, to a similar crack in my mind. My brain was cold and protested at being jump-started. Moments later, Father came in and woke me up.

"Don't you have to go to camp now?"

"...mmm... it's just 5 in the morning... WHAT?!"

And that marked the perfect awakening that I have not had ever since I enlisted.

Today is our division's anniversary. 29 years ago to this day, the cobra division was created as a reservist formation, housing all the servicemen whom have transited back into their civilian life. On the odd occasion when they return, the old campus at Nee Soon is bound to be a gathering of beer-bellies, whom would gather jovially with their sacks of canned food for their reservist training.

To commemorate this vital event of our lives, we have enthusiastically stretched ourselves out, bowled over each other in a frenetic attempt to be selected to join an extremely coveted bunch of lucky NSFs to join in a parade filled with polished-boot dirtying mud, a sky that keeps taking a toilet break, and a murderous sun that threatened to preserve us like plums.

I thank my lucky stars that I was selected for the exhibition instead. Our display was located at a secluded part of the camp, which is very easily missed amidst the adrenaline of Bronco tank and Light Strike rides. That meant only the dedicated seekers of our exhibit could find us: The big shots.

Soon after the parade over at the other side of the sprawling camp finished, we found ourselves drowning in a crowd of Majors and Colonels, together with their family. Camera-totting, with some even delicately carrying their ladies' handbags, they seemed far from the commanding figures that hundreds of soldiers fear. The pot-belly helps too.

Taking special advantage of the situation (cameras are not normally allowed), I snapped a few photos of our motley display.

(To any potential enemies: the photos of the equipment you see are so widely distributed, you won't even find them the least bit interesting. See for yourself:)

The armour display on the parade square
The armour display on the parade square

The primus in action
The primus in action

120mm mortar
120mm mortar

Our exhibition of infantry weapons
Our exhibition of infantry weapons

The humble ordinary servicemen have all left in a thunderflash, leaving the catered lunch with little takers: Ponnifer shoved a handful of chicken drumsticks on my plate, and I managed to eat many servings of ice-cream, all just for being the only few to grace the "buffet". I didn't take any photos there, since I was too busy eating.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Week in camp after ATEC

Due to some unforeseen technical difficulties with my will-power, I am forced to delay the production on the long awaited series of unfortunate events. Rather unfortunate, it is.

Anyway, things back at camp have largely settled down into a steady routine: I go on a very tiring physical training in the morning, then slump on my bed for the rest of the day, occasionally rousing to interrupt some excited debate going on in the bunk.

Lying on your bed motionless, even when you are not really sleeping helps aplenty, especially when you get to overhear interesting opinions about you that would normally never fall within the cavities of your ear... Talk about reconnaissance.

The schedule for these few days are evenly split between Advanced Close Combat Training (which teaches us to do fight unarmed) and the Standard Obstacle Course, which is an eleven-obstacle long run, with a 700 metre run down, and a 600 metre dash to the finishing line. SOC is tough, we have to finish it under 9.5 minutes to pass. The course in the camp ups the ante with a continuous upslope gradient all the way from the start till the finishing line. I can't see myself believing the words of conducting officers who claim that the ground is actually flat.

We got partially lucky today. They managed to book a much easier obstacle course in another camp. It has very steep down slopes, little hindering gradients, but a seemingly long run down and finishing dash. I took the test there before (which I very obviously failed) so I pretty much had a pre-conception on what to expect.

To further improve my chances, I applied all the psychological techniques to mentally prepare myself for the test. At around 3 pm, all the test takers assembled on the ground, and boarded the vehicles that would take us to the camp. Just as the vehicles got into the second gear, the first drop of trouble fell onto the roof. Then the second. And then came the third. Soon, the road was wet with the sudden downpour. The conducting officer had no choice but to cancel the test. This coming after two weeks of running, and an entire day of mental psyching, was a real wet blanket.

You couldn't see the urgency in my passing the test right?

Well, a few weeks ago, the big bosses up above suddenly decided to impose unrealistic sleeping timings, and have largely curbed the nights outside camp, such that the only realistic chance of even going out for a little bit of LAN gaming would have to depend totally on me passing the SOC. I won't go into a discussion into the morals of the people involved, but I have to say that I am quite disappointed. Call it the feeling of betrayal if you would.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Specialists have ORDed!

On a lighter note, I would like to congratulate all the commanders from 4th Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment for having completed their National Service. ORD! Time for you to return to your civilian lives, and make that painful transition back to civilian life. Time to worry about your next paycheck, your future, not to mention waking up at an unearthly 11 am in the morning!

Life is full of uncertainties, but one thing is for sure: the road will reveal itself to you when you get to it. There is no point fretting too much about the dark unknown. Take the plunge, and things will fall into place by themselves.

I mean, haven't it always been this way? Remember when you first stepped into BMT as a bald head always getting pushed around by instructors? You have managed it magnificently, and had even qualified to go to SISPEC, a commander school. You have what it takes to go through the works, grit and mettle being your tools, digging your way through your national service till this day.

So lift your heads up high, strut your stuff with confidence, and all the best in your future projects!

I will be joining you come 9 April 2006. Wait for me!

Terror attacks

They have done it again.

The lives of ordinary people ¡ª lives yearning for normalcy only just recently restored ¡ª have been brutally disrupted by the very selfish act of terrorists: again.

Bali, an island dependant upon the hospitality industry has been dealt a set back by these monsters, dead set against the establishment at large, and determined to establish their own regime through acts of terrorism.

But what all these dastard deeds have done is to strengthen the world's resolve to continue their lives as best as they can.

Historically, war has always been waged around the hearts and minds of people. To win them, or to strike fear in their hearts would mean a tremendous advantage to any side in a war, regardless of the original purpose of the conflict in the first place.

We also know that fear is a poor motivater. People can, and they will, eventually overcome the terror struck in their hearts by these faceless, merciless killers, and get to the root of the problem. That we see dictatorships which rule through instillation of fear collapse through the test of time is simple proof of fact that terror will not work towards the eventual motives of the terrorists. If their cause is worthy of the world's consideration, shouldn't they come out in the open to present their ideals? If what they do is rational, surely the cause would survive the test of critics? Won't the best idea be embraced by the world with open arms?

It is obvious that these terrorists have no real contribution to society. They are merely misguided folks tightly binded by their blind faith in psychotic manipulaters, whom use them for their own agenda. At the same time as I hate these people, I pity them. They would never gain acceptance in this world.

The world will rise up, and rid itself of this scourge, just as we overcame the two world wars. The world goes around, long after the terrorists are defeated.

Dedicated to the victims of terrorists:

  • Bali, 12 October 2002 and 1 October 2005
  • USA, 11 September 2001
  • Madrid, 11 March 2004
  • London, 7 July 2005
  • ... and more.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Permethrin: the insect killer

Humans don't really care about the finer details about all the things they use. As long as it works as advertised, they would be content with just the basic knowledge required to operate those technological goddesses.

With that in mind, here is an introduction to the insect killer, Permethrin, and how it affects to military personnels.

We all know that staying inside the forest for days at a time can be a disturbing experience. Campers curse about it, while soldiers lying with their faces in the grasses are resigned to their destiny. Those blood suckers really know how to annoy, taking extreme pleasure in drinking human blood, and imparting a torturous itch reflex after it is done with its business, which makes us wonder whether those pests have been unloading their wastes at the same time as they enjoy the scrumptious snack.

More fortunate soldiers (read: behind the front lines) have the pleasure of relieving themselves of the consuming desire to scratch the itch, while others (those with their faces in the grass, having to stay motionless continuously to maintain stealth) would have to expend already scarce willpower to resist the burning urge to move. Their fingers start to tremble with the effort. Soon, the body follows in harmonic motion, which sets the surrounding grass into motion, which then shows the uninitiated enemy observer the location of their potential ambushers.

To solve the problem, armies have been ordering soldiers to roll down their sleeves whenever entering an area with trees and grass patches. That usually stops most mosquitoes. But there exist an unusual breed of the elite, capable of extreme piercing and penetration, which the thick nylon and cotton cloths fail to block. Not surprising, these commandos also harbour the same ability to create bigger bumps, and itchier itches. Sometimes, it gets so bad that the itch feels painful to the touch.

Such is the suffering of soldiers having to operate in these mosquito infested forests.

As if that were not enough, to break the camel's back, many species of mosquitoes harbour vectors and parasites, which they present to its host in gratitude for the involuntary donation. Dengue, Malaria are just some of the many diseases people have come down with, days after their encounter with the pests. Many survive, while some succumb to the disease. All the prep talks by training officers about how "men don't die so easily" seems to have taken a new meaning altogether.

When all seems dark and gloomy, the policy makers from their cushy offices have come to the rescue!

Introducing.. Permethrin!

Picture of Pynosect-PCO bottle

A revolutionary insect killer in a bottle, it promises to kill insects on contact!

First, you pour a little bit of the solution into many parts of water. Make sure you have those gloves on!
You should see the entire solution turn chalky. Dump one piece of your uniform inside it and soak it. Do the same with the other pieces.

The manufacturer promises that insects coming into contact with the treated uniform will drop dead and fall off.

I can't verify this claim since I've still been bitten by those monstrosities after treating my uniform, yet I have seen buzzing mosquitoes drop dead in front of me after I have sprayed them with a pure mixture of water and Permethrin, which makes me extremely suspicious about the killing mechanisms: does the chemical simply chokes the insect to death, or does it kill by overloading the mosquito's desire to feed?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Coming Soon to a blog near you: A series of Unfortunate Events

My pieces of luggage still laid strewn chaotically around my room, and Mother has been nagging me to clean up the act.

Did I think I was in an action film? I doubt so. After assuring Mother that this mess was not an act, I was given a deadline to clear them out. My brother would have sniggered had he heard that.

I didn't resist the commands of the lady who gave birth to me, so I picked up the pieces, starting with all the dirty laundry I accumulated from the trip to the-country-that-must-not-be-named. I was really thankful that I had the sense to at least dunk them into ziplock bags, because the moment I opened the flap, I was treated to a cacophony of my own smells, totally corrupted by days of stewing in human sweat and pherohormones. Oh the joy the bacteria must had.

That task done, I decided to cluster the remaining pieces of luggage together in one corner of the room. As they like to say, presentation is everything, so I am sure that dressing up the room would help it look less dilapidated. Needless to say, I was only just being lazy. Playing dress up to my room is definitely a tough job, though not something unfamiliar, since I had to do it many times previously in camp.

I've started on writing about my misadventures (is it the right word?). It is a series of unfortunate events (which luckily still pales in comparison to the film/story with the same name) that happened to me while I was in the-country-that-must-remain-unamed. Inside that post, you will find fairy tale stories about how a camera decided to declare independance (not unlike the-country-that-must-not-be-named), of sore eyes and broken backs, of lost disembarkation cards, road near-misses.

Starring myself, a platoon of homesick scouts, battalion HQ, the kind police of the-country-that-must-not-be-named, taxi drivers, and hotel staff whom-insist-on-communicating-to-me-in-English-when-I-could-speak-Chinese-natively.

Coming Soon.

Headhunters take note: (Yet another IQ test)

After taking that IQ test, I have been egged on by Tickle to take their advanced IQ test, which essentially picks my brain apart, dissects the choices I make, and churns out a very descriptive description (verbose would have been a better word, but for want of a pun) of my personality and thinking style. Here is a small excerpt:

Your IQ score is 117. This means that you are smarter than 87.0% of all other Super IQ test takers.

This number is the result of a scientifically-tested formula based on how many questions you answered correctly on the Tickle Super IQ Test.

But there's more to intelligence than a single number, a single score, or a single label. Tickle uses 8 distinguishable dimensions of intelligence in the Super IQ Test. By analyzing your individual scores on those 8 scales, we are able to look beyond the raw IQ score into how you process information, and which intellectual strengths you're best at.

Your test results indicate that the way you process information makes you a Concrete Thinker.

You have unusually strong verbal and numerical skills. This dynamic combination gives you an exceptional aptitude for solving equations and then communicating those solutions to others in lay terms. Your intelligence is grounded and based on a very clear interpretation of what is happening around you. Because you are so realistic, most things are crystal clear to you, while others may get confused by this or that.

Your objective is to make things real and clear. People count on you to find and give the sober, cold-hard facts. You learn most easily when things are explained in numbers and words and so you enjoy the education you get through books and lectures. Unlike others, you do not have to experience something first-hand to understand it, nor do you have a lot of interest in how things work mechanically. On the other hand, if you find the information in your books or lectures too abstract, you might tend toward first-hand experience as you'll get nothing but the facts that way.

Here's an example of your Concrete Thinker thinking skills at work in a real-life situation:

You are at a travel agency with a friend contemplating the several different types of vacations you two could take together. The agent gives you the pros and cons of each vacation (including the prices), along with the options you have within each package. All the details, facts, and figures confuse your friend, who asks the agent to just recommend the best one so you two can be done with it and get out of there. But you are able to take out a pen and a piece of paper and write down all of the relevant information. The comparison sheet you create helps you both figure out which is the best choice, and you prevents your friend from feeling overly confused. Thank goodness you think the way you do!

Head-hunters gather your weapons: grab this rare talent before your prey is seized by others!

I accept employment for a mere pittance at SGD$10, 000 per month.

(Do I see my head swelling, or is that just my ego?)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Tickle me IQ test

The argument for (and against) IQ tests continues to blow hot and cold right over my head as I took

I have always seen myself as an average kid, and people have treated me as such. So I got a shock when I saw this:

You scored 135 on Tickle's IQ test. This means that based on your answers, your IQ score is between 125 and 135. Most people's IQs are between 70 and 130.

In fact, 95% of all people have IQs within that range. 68% of people score between 80 and 120. The following chart below, shows these percentages and where your IQ score is on that scale.

There's more to intelligence than a single number, a single score or a single label. Tickle uses four distinguishable Intelligence Scales in the Ultimate IQ Test. By analyzing your individual scores on those four scales, we are able to look beyond the raw IQ score into how you process information and thereby determine your Intellectual Type.

You have a strong ability to process visual-spatial and mathematical information. These skills combined with your strengths in logic are what make you a Visual Mathematician.

You're able to understand patterns visually and in numbers. That means your mind can create a mental picture for any problem. In addition to that skill, you possess an intelligence that allows you to apply math to that picture, too. That helps you manipulate multiple parts of the picture (or problem) to come up with a solution.

You have many skills that are critical to success and problem-solving. Your talents help you understand the "big picture," which is partly why people may turn to you for direction — especially in the workplace. You flourish in environments where tasks are clearly defined, and you are a whiz at improving processes and making things more efficient. Your ability to detect patterns and your skills in math and logic, make it natural for you to come up with ideas and theories that simplify processes for everyone.

Outside of work, Visual Mathematicians tend to do well at strategic activities like chess. It must be that ability to recognize patterns — both as they are and how they develop. Regardless of how you put your mind to use, you've got a great set of talents. You will be able to envision a clear path and calculate the risks, and more importantly, the rewards, of anything you take on.

Great Jobs For You:

Because of the way you process information, these are just some of the many careers in which you could excel:

  • Physicists

  • Chess player

  • City planner

  • Astronomer

  • Physicists

  • Mathematician

  • Researcher

Some of Your Greatest Talents:

You've got tons of strengths. It wouldn't surprise us if you:

  • Can give practical application to abstract thought

  • Can predict patterns

  • Are resourceful & practical

  • Envision the "big picture"

Your Mathematical Percentile

You scored in the 100th percentile on the mathematical intelligence scale.This means that you scored higher than 90% - 100% of people who took the test and that 0% - 10% scored higher than you did. The scale above illustrates this visually.

Your mathematical intelligence score represents your combined ability to reason and calculate. You scored relatively high, which means you're probably the one your friends look to when splitting the lunch bill or calculating your waitresses' tip. You may or may not be known as a math whiz, but number crunching might come a little easier to you than it does others.

Your Visual-Spatial Percentile

You scored in the 100th percentile on the visual-spatial intelligence scale.

This means that you scored higher than 90% - 100% of people who took the test and that 0% - 10% scored higher than you did. The scale above illustrates this visually.

The visual-spatial component of intelligence measures your ability to extract a visual pattern and from that envision what should come next in a sequence. Your score was relatively high, which could mean that you're the one navigating the map when you're on an outing with friends. You have, in some capacity, an ability to think in pictures. Maybe this strength comes out in subtle ways, like how you play chess or form metaphors.

Your Linguistic Percentile

You scored in the 90th percentile on the linguistic intelligence scale.

This means that you scored higher than 80% - 90% of people who took the test and that 10% - 20% scored higher than you did. The scale above illustrates this visually.

Linguistic abilities include reading, writing and communicating with words. Tickle's test measures knowledge of vocabulary, ease in completing word analogies and the ability to think critically about a statement based on its semantic structure. Your score was relatively high, which could mean you know your way around a bookstore and maybe like to bandy about the occasional 25-cent word to impress friends.

Your Logical Percentile

You scored in the 100th percentile on the logical intelligence scale.

This means that you scored higher than 90% - 100% of people who took the test and that 0% - 10% scored higher than you did. The scale above illustrates this visually.

Tickle's logical intelligence questions assess your ability to think things through. The questions determine the extent to which you use reasoning and logic to determine the best solution to a problem. Your logic score was relatively high, which could mean that when the car breaks down, your friends look to you to help figure out not only what's wrong, but how to fix it and how you're going to get to the next gas station.

What factors helped determine my score?

If your score isn't as high as you thought it would be, remember that there are plenty of external factors that can affect your performance on the test. If you were tired, hungry or distracted, you might have scored lower than you expected because you were less able to concentrate.

Your level of formal education and your familiarity with taking these kinds of tests also influence how well you do. That's part of the reason IQ tests aren't a perfect measure of your intelligence. Your score would probably be quite different if the IQ test was designed to take into account your musical, artistic, emotional and social skills.

On their own, IQ scores can't predict someone's ultimate success or definitive potential for success. Many of the qualities that lead to great achievements are learned through culture, experience and schooling - not solely from doing well on an IQ test.

What your IQ test can help explain, however, is how your brain works best. By looking at the kinds of questions you answered correctly and the kinds of questions you answered incorrectly, we can tell you more about your intelligence type — the type that explains the kind of information that makes sense to your brain.

I remember taking an IQ test conducted by the Ministry of Education back in primary school. It was a nationwide exercise to sniff out high IQ students to join the special elite programs created then. I don't recall them revealing my IQ results to me, though. My conspiracy theory goes that they were too afraid to recruit me into those programs for fear that I would find the program too unchallenging.

Ah, the big ego strikes. (I wish.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Writing trouble

I had wanted to post Day 2 of my trip in Taiwan, but after several drafts, a few cups of Milo (I don't do coffee), a few IM messages later, I decided that I hadn't written about the right stuff yet. Or was I not made of the right stuff to write that? I am confused.

So, I hope that the best decision was to freeze that until I could get myself together. It is a monumental task for me these days, since I have been trying to get some real maintenance run done before going back to camp a few days from now, yet I get distracted by the television. Yes, the old disease from my childhood days is back with a terrible vengeance! And this has no attribution to the quality of the shows: in fact, in my opinion, there has never been more junk shows then I had ever encountered since the industry consolidated at the start of the year.

You will agree with me when you look at the newspaper listings, and find celebrity game shows ¡ª featuring celebrities playing pointless games filling in the prime time slots. If this is MediaCorp's idea of a reality show, I guess they need a reality check themselves. While the government has been encouraging innovation and promoting creativity, I certainly think these herrings were not what those scholars had in mind when they were drafting their grand designs inside their cosy ivory towers. They were thinking about "The Amazing Exam" (after "The Amazing Race"), "The Scholar" (after "The Bachelor"), "Extreme Exams" (after "Extreme Makeover").

I digress. I have been receiving e-mail messages from Dear Readers demanding for the photos I took in Taiwan. I assure you, it is all safe inside the camera. But I can't say the same for the camera itself, since it is currently riding in an unknown location in a cab somewhere in Taipei. Guess we would all have to wait for the camera to come back to Singapore before we can get something out of it, eh?

All the while that I was wallowing, I noticed that Dear Government has decided to throw the book at three bloggers. Their crime: Sedition. The trio have been posting racist comments on their blogs, and Dear Government thinks that they have gone out of line. Thus the book. My guess is that it will be a rather heavy tome, since this is the first time it has been thrown at anybody. Ladies and gentlemen, please be on the lookout for the dust gathered on the surface. The fall out might be reach quite far.

Perhaps I might raise a suggestion to Dear Government? Find out the cause for those heartfelt comments by the trio would you? I am sure that you won't be so far detached from the rest of the world to know that those people were merely the more vocal racists.

P.S. I am not me. Again. This is not my usual writing style. Oh goodness, somebody help me. I am writing like an eccentric. (Or maybe I am weird)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Blog in the newspapers

While I was away from Singapore, the weekly Digital Life supplement of the local newspaper, The Straits Times, decided to talk about my blog.

Not that it did much to draw more traffic to this blog, but I noticed more and more visitors from government agencies.

Am I under close scrutiny?

Digital Life, 16 August 2005 (Section: People, Netizens)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The First Day Back Home

First day back in the country after a brief period away, and I am noticing significant, yet at the same time gently subtle changes to the places.

The airport itself has a new layout after a considerable amount of hacking and regeneration. Not only has it been a surprise to me, it is also a resounding knock on my head towards this country's needs to constantly innovate and rebuild herself in a bid to progress amidst the constant storm of change. The strange thing about it is that the characters involved in this are always everybody, yet we find ourselves powerless to halt the call to change.

Hitting the tarmac at 9 am here meant an unearthly take-off time of 5 am. That meant compulsory reporting to the airport by 3 am, and the distance from the capital to the airport further pushed my reville time to an unearthly 1 am. The hotel staff commiserated with the poor (intentional?) scheduling of the flight, but that was all they could do to alleviate my weariness. Again, being the packet IC didn't help matters. And I still had my lost disembarkation card to further stir the plot. Thankfully, dealing with stuff one at a time helped tremendously, so I managed to get off to snoozing on the plane by take off.

I reached home to discover another trip waiting for me this weekend. It turned out that my cousin in Malaysia was getting married on Sunday, and had invited me to her wedding. A pleasant surprise, although I didn't expect to be leaving the country again so soon after arrival. I consider this a blessing, since a few of my platoon mates are playing the part of busy jet-setters, leaving for Thailand only 3 days after touch down.

My RSS feeds have been bursting at its seams for some time already, and I found clearing the backlog of information after a period of total news blackout satisfying, yet overwhelming. We have too much information at our tips, that is for sure.

Creationists have been trying to mislead the world with yet another piece of totally unverifiable nonsense: Los Angeles Times

Have the Americans forgotten their drive to seperate Church from the matters of the state? Then we must worship the spaghetti monster, as Boing Boing recommends!

The creativity of the human mind knows no bounds: What's next after books, CD-ROMs and the Internet for the library? People for loan!

To the few of you mad volunteers bound for Thailand, good luck with your trip there, and have a good exercise with the combat engineers!

In the meantime, it is off to more civilian pursuits for me. Sleep. Play. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Day One: Arrival (14 August 2005)

Day One: Arrival (14 August 2005)

I couldn't sleep the night preceding the flight, whether that is due to my excitement at air travel, or the jitters filling my stomach with acid on a warm night. Studying physics hasn't been a sufficient relief: I don't really get comforted at the idea of a piece of aluminium floating in the air purely on Bernoulli's effect alone, and the fact remains that August is open season for typhoons. But I get over it... almost.

The icing on it all was when I was tasked to fuss over twenty people due to board the same plane, ensuring their punctuality on board the plane and taking care of all the mudane administrative stuff before the flight. So I laid on my bed, simultaneous thinking about nothing, while fiddling with the cell phone by my bedside every few minutes to check the time. There went most of the late evening of August 13, and a little of the morning of August 14.

At the airport, my mind was unusually numb and switched off, as I went through the task of passing out the boarding passes and immigration cards to the people under my charge (that's an egoistic way to put it, but you get the idea). Also thrown into the bundle are t-shirts, which we would wear to the battalion's activities during our stay in the-country-that-must-not-be-named. I took a lesson in FAQs when I had to field multiple repeat queries from 20 people: it pays to get everybody together before commencing upon one major verbose brief.

Anyway, the flight took off as planned, and we touched down in a city in the-country-that-must-not-be-named smack in the throes of the afternoon heat. Clearing the immigration building, I immediately reeled as memories of the same place ran head-on with this new experience, and went immediately for the air-conditioned coaches that would make the trip down south.

While I alternated between snoozing and watching the scenery, I took pictures of the destruction that the previous storm had laid upon the island. (I don't have them now, details will be revealed in later posts...) As the bus purred down the main road, I could see the roiling seas mixing around, framing a perfect picture of a veiled threat to the coast. I wish I could show you the pictures, but... never mind. (It still breaks my heart now just to think about it...)

We reached camp around 2 in the afternoon, upon which I left the bus with my luggage, and leaving my precious disembarkation card (for use when departing the country-that-must-not-be-named), and a copy of The Sunday Times in an envelope snugged into the netting on the seat in front of me. It was only the bus drove off that I realised my mistake. The matter reached S1, who boiled over and demanded my head served up on a chopping board. I can't say what happened to me, for it would breach confidentiality agreement, but I must say that it is a huge lesson I have learnt. For some time, I was paranoid that I would be a permanent resident here. I fretted that my parents would disagree with that arrangement.

Anyway, unpacking took up most of the day, and I hit the sack early, as the spring inside unwound. I had some driving to do the next day. On the wrong side of the road.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Long overdue meme...

Here's a long overdue meme K.C. cast to me while I was overseas. I sure hope that given my current state (I sure identify with plenty of jet-setting executives right now), I am able to carry out this sacred mission:


1. Gunny Sack
An endearment by my primary school mates, inspired when we won the fun race during one of the school's sports day. I was involved in hopping in that sack for the relay.

2. Pikapi
My nickname needs no explanation if you have watched Pokemon. Otherwise, please Google Pokemon! I embroided this on my jungle hat.

3. Gun
It sounds exactly like my surname, so there it goes...


1. Pikapi/Pkchukiss

2. MakePeace

3. (Censored)


1. My natural optimism

2. A sense for the dramatic, though it is severely dulled these days. Either I am losing it, or I am gripped by the tentacles of cynicism.

3. Responsibility. I dare say that nobody cares more about his own work than I do. Or has cynicism consumed me?


1. My need to be alone for stretches at a time

2. I can't tolerate irresponsible people

3. I hate overtly arrogant fools.

(I assume this is talking about my culture)

1. Food. We are very mad about food. Cornerstone to every important festival in our country is the very stuff we put inside our mouths.

2. Queues. We automatically go to the longest queue, because we think that the best stuff is where most people would be.

3. Rants. A product of the unrelenting pressures of life here, we rant a lot. Plus the lack of a true outlet causes mini holes to explode here and there...


1. Being ignored by my friends.

2. Being bored and deprived of entertainment.

3. The pain of losing loved ones.


1. My computer

2. Cash

3. Cell phone.


1. Nothing?

2. Underwear?

3. Shorts? I don't know.


1. Michael Jackson
I know he is an eccentric person, but that doesn't affect my admiration for his music. Some of my favourite songs are humanitarian in nature.

2. F.I.R.
The new-comer to the chinese music scene has managed to capture my attention with their innovative tracks.

3. (none)
Some may mention Jay Chou or David Tao as their favourite artiste, but I don't identify enough with their music to justify their listing...


1. Heal the world - Michael Jackson

2. A chinese song by F.I.R

3. Another piece by F.I.R


1. To be understood

2. To be able to build a happy life together with a partner

3. To understand

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE (in no particular order):

1. We all die eventually.

2. My identity card puts me down as a male.

3. My identity card puts me down as a female.
(I am getting quite bored about this... I frankly don't like to indulge in such trivia about myself, it feels egoistic. But then again, I am slightly narcissistic.)


1. The ability to listen

2. The ability to understand

3. (none)


1. The Internet

2. Cycling/Swimming/Running

3. DotA
A custom map for WarCraft III played like a mini-RPG where players try to kill each other with one hero each.


1. Sleep
The jet lag is really annoying, but I prefer to wait for my normal bed time to sleep it off. No use wasting my up time tomorrow morning.

2. Eat

3. (none)


1. Journalist for an independent newspaper

2. Catalyst for political betterment

3. Multi-billionaire with at least 3 charities in my name...


1. The States
Experience life in the champion for democracy. I might plan a visit to the lesser affluent communities, which appear on television as majority asian and hispianic poverty pockets. Life isn't a bed roses for many people.

2. Japan
I am curious about the controversial WWII shrine that has gotten Japan's neighbouring countries' ire. Has the hurt gone so deep that 60 years down the road, resentment stil breeds in the place of forgiveness? I have also heard that the shopping is great there - if you have the money, that is.

3. Tasmania
To truly get away from it all, I would dump my cell phone at home, and get there just to swim all day in the famous reefs, and experience the life Down Under.


What good would answering this do?


1. Properly arrange my financial succession, and take care of my personal affairs.

2. Reflect on my life, and be proud that I have lead a meaningful life.

3. Be with my loved ones.


1. I commit most of the unspeakable private things a boy does.

2. The wall is the target of my anger: the shoe prints are testament to my wrath.

3. I love Pikachu.


1. I have absolutely no idea.


1. None
Crushes are a tad bit hard on the body. Certain parts of the anatomy might get crushed out of shape, or require extensive calcium replenishment to repair.


1. Desmond

2. Kester

3. (none)
I don't think Badaunt bothers herself with such aimless memes, since all the ones she has done so far are things worthy of discussion...

Back in Singapore...

After a 4 hour flight with a cowboy pilot, I find myself back in Singapore.

Technically, I lost myself instead.

I see people driving on the right side of their vehicles, and now on the left side of the road, just when I was accepting the rebellious as the norm, people start spewing forth Singlish, and taxi drivers show off their erractic city driving in their manual clutch releases.

And the weather. No typhoons here.

More when I get over this strange desire to sleep (I heard that it is called "jet-lag").

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Towards the land directly south of Japan

Metaphorically, I have butterflies in my stomach.

In reality, I am tossing and turning in my bed.

Less than 9 hours from now, I will find myself on board a plane bound for the land of Jacky Wu, Nono and Kang Kang. No, not to see them, of course, but I would be in their country/province (antagonists in that famous debate may pick your word) for a whole month.

Cheap milk tea makes me salivate, but the thought of scaling the mountains there has only given me more butterflies.

You see, they like to start small. Disguising themselves as easily dismissable feelings, they hide in your stomach. Then as the departure date rolls nearer, they start to get big — exponentially.

So here I am trying hard to keep the butterflies inside my stomach. (I won't want them out, though, it kind of messes up the floor tiles.)

For one month, I will miss my family, my computer, my favourite hang outs, my favourite food, and most important of all: my room. I like the mess, it has made my mother nag, but it is the only place which I am legally permitted to let loose without prosecution.

But don't worry about updates. The computers in the camp are outfitted with speedy access to U.S. servers, so much so that the only limitation stopping me from updating this blog is my lack of time. I have no doubt that I would be busy, and the 3rd biggest boss has already given an indication of the things to come.

There they go again. Them butterflies really begin to annoy.

Let's see: I will miss the strict traffic order, especially driving on the correct side of the road, the reassurance that I won't get lost...

Well, now that has come, let's see what I would have one full month of:
Betel nuts (reddish stuff that people chew and spit out), cheap milk tea, interesting toys, huge dildos (I saw one on my last trip there), mountains, ninja vans, mountains, photos (I have learnt my lesson: my camera is coming with me this time around)... Have I mentioned mountains?

I am sure that things would turn out just fine, and I would probably just come back a very happy person, since that should be the last of my outfields.

Yup, it would turn out fine...

Till the next post!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Of Crave and Greed

What is exactly the driving force of the world, Crave or Greed?

To me, Crave is a want for something. Greed is the desire for more. In such a context, that makes "insatiable greed" a repetition. To others, the lines between the two lexicons are blurred.

That is not inferring the incompetence of ordinary folks per se, but I question the strength of their convictions, on the risk of being labelled a lingual purist.

In everyday life, the two terms are used interchangeably, without regards to their degree of severity. Hardly surprising, but there comes a time to draw a line between fair use interchangeability, and wrong use.

It is like "red" and "maroon".

But then again, word contexts change over time, so I probably am an alarmist with nothing better to do with his time, and should just shut up.

Yet again, subtleties are what makes up the finely defined world of Language, and should be dealt with absolute care to avoid a dull future where everything is black to the same degree.

You are good.

You are... good.

Erm, whatever. I haven't got anybody to proof this, so my argument's probably nonsense. Please don't lam-blast me, I am just a poor "A" level holder, forced to serve the nation's army.

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Post National Day

I tried calling the forum host a few times yesterday, but nobody answered, strangely.

So there hangs precariously on the precipice all the previous comments made in that forum host. I won't be surprised if it has gone over the cliff already.

Meanwhile, my bad cough is improving somewhat: my throat no longer launches into an obstructed fit thanks to the cough medicine, but I can still feel the phelgm clustering in a choke point in the wind pipe.

My pen pal from the U.S. suggests that I try a cigarette or two, to induce those slimey invaders into my mouth. As arcane theories of using "poison to counter poison" filled my mind, I had to say, thanks for the suggestion, but no thanks, John. I really don't need more stuff clogging my airway now.

For those who have missed the National Day parade which was broadcast over all the free-to-air channels yesterday can watch the repeat telecast on Saturday, 1pm. If you would like to catch the exciting repetition on demand, [:::> Internet streaming has made it possible <:::].

Fireworks enthusiasts may take a look at the nitrate display repeated over and over again, [:::> courtesy of a blogger lucky enough to be invited to the view from Southeast Asia's tallest hotel <:::].

[:::> Badaunt <:::] has gone travelling again! This time, she brings us updates to her travels in Budapest.

Budapest in August is full. At the airport informatzion desk we started bz asking about the place we had originallz wanted, then moved down the price list until we found one that had rooms available. This means that we are now stazing at the cheapest place in Budapest, a zouth hostel. It is prettz rough, but clean. It is also incrediblz noisz as the zouth stazing there are apparentlz into partzing all night.

How I wish I could travel on my own free will, on my own time, without nonsensical restrictions! Each time I go abroad on training trips with the SAF, they like to impose weird rules on our R&R, which sometimes mar the experience. Here are a few of the sillier ones:

  • NO entering any water body:
    That automatically excludes the beach from the itinerary.
  • NO rental and driving of local transportation
    What is the use of your licence if you cannot drive? How many attractions can we visit without a vehicle?

My final trip with the SAF is Exercise StarLight. I am forbidden to say where it is located. Anyway, I really would love to meet the nice girls in Taipei :-P. After my ATEC there, my battalion would be standing down soon. Most of the guys would end their full time national service in December, while the rest of Support Company would leave for the civilian world in March/April.

I would save the farewell speech in another post, but I would just like to mention that it was nice knowing everybody here. All those whom I had quarrels with, I totally enjoyed bickering with all of you :-). It really adds flavour to life. Nice to fight ATEC with you all, and Towards Greater Heights.

Monday, August 08, 2005

National Day

It is that time of the year again.

Boring introduction suits cliched event that happens every year with the same monotony of brushing a teeth.

However, as far as the MCs of the National Day parade are concerned, National Day is the most exciting event to happen to Singapore since eons. They bounce around like a fevered bunny on steroids, marching the spectators and home viewers through the same menu of events year after year.

As if things were not bad enough, we have an organising committee which switch-a-roos between the armed formations each year. While I agree with the over-stressed point on how fresh hands are willing to try new stuff, I question their rationale: what is the use of having new people on the job when the same inefficiencies are repeated year after year? Sure, these people try new stuff, which are in essence the old mistakes made by their predecessors.

Definitely innovative.

I could list the events for the day:

  1. Pre-parade Segment:

    Teenagers from the ITE would bound around (think rabbits) in a song that embodies "joy", "youth", and "hope" (smaller than usual capitalisation intentional). Choir bursts into a national day song.

  2. Parade marches in:

    A few commercial entities, in addition to the armed forces, march in military formation, to symbolise the five facets of Total Defence. Choir bursts into a national day song.

  3. MPs arrive. Choir bursts into a national day song.

  4. Prime Minister arrives. Parade does a salute. Choir bursts into a national day song.

  5. President arrives. Parades does a salute. Colours salute. Choir bursts into a... (you get the idea)

  6. Show One/Two/Three: Themes can range from "unity" to "prosperity", etc... provided that it is a cornerstone of the current national thrust. Choir bursts into a national day song every now and then. A video show, or two of proud Singaporeans...

  7. Fireworks go off to the tune of a national day song sung by - you-know-who.

  8. Everybody present says the National pledge

  9. President goes off

  10. Spectators find themselves being ushered out

It is the same thing over and over again. It is akin to a salesman peddling his wares on the street. He does the same thing, only difference is the variety of his wares year after year.

I was at the National Day parade last year as a serviceman on usher duty. I was there too the year previous as a civilian. Before those two, I was witness to the same cookie-cutter for 18 years.

Given that I have seen the same show repackaged in the same box every year, I feel justified in doing anything other than watch the National Day parade. It should have sounded stale to everybody 38 years ago (Singapore celebrates Her 40th Independence day tomorrow), and I find it a curious social phenomenon that Singaporeans continue to find inspirational value in it.

Happy National Day! (And for the umpteenth time, Singapore does NOT celebrate a birthday. It is our Independence day we are celebrating!)

P.S.: I have no idea why I sound so cynical today, but the fact remains that I am peeved. Whether my medicine has any links with my fits today is still an untested theory.

P.S.S: I am still feeling drowsy from all the medicine I am taking. My doctor has advised me to get a chest ray done if my bad cough still persist.

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Sunday, August 07, 2005

Sleeping online

If my MSN contacts were paying any attention, they would have found me in a perpetual snooze all through the sun and the moon.

Yes, I am in a medically induced snooze. (As to why I was compelled to type "Medical Induced Snooze" in my status text instead, I have only the influence of Phenexpect and Actifed to plead)

As I take yet another dose of the medicine, I have only this prequel of a post to put up: I am probably more sick than I have previously thought.


Sunday, July 31, 2005

Smelly Social Experiement

Entering into the army virtually strips any person of his civilian identity. You don't call yourself "Mr. so-and-so", and former-fellow civilians take special care to steer a wide berth from you whenever you attend a formal function in that dizzy green camouflage pattern. I know, it is like getting a contagious disease.

I was made to be extremely self-conscious on my very first book-out almost 2 years ago. Decked out in the smartest uniform, yet smelling from the physical activity I was forced to do for the ritual book-out bunk inspection, I could only flap my hands helplessly while commuters wrinkled their noses in their blatant expression of disapproval.

I can't blame them. Multiply me by the entire company of recruits on the train, and you get the picture, or rather, the aroma. Thank goodness for the Arctic air-conditioning on the trains (at least during that time). I doubt that recruits nowadays are fortunate enough (ever since the train operator decided to keep the thermostat at a warm 26 degrees) to dry up as easily as I did.

Come to think of it, surely the other passengers are suffering from the overwhelming stench of male pheromones? I doubt so. I was sure that hiding somewhere among the seated crowd pretending to sleep (while the elderly and needy stand) was some obsessed girl with a morbid fetish for men decked in army uniforms ogling at me hungrily. I could not put my finger on it, but I definitely felt watched.

The same thing happened all through my days booking out in uniform. It stopped the very first time I took the train home in civilian attire. No eyes boring through to my skin, nothing to make me stand out, which suited me fine. So recently, I decided to conduct an experiment, to see if I wasn't simply being pickled in paranoia.

There was once I had to attend a function in full uniform, and I took the opportunity to dress as immaculately as possible, before taking the train. I was surprised when girls actually picked seats next to me (on an empty train), in turn snubbing other males.

I didn't know what to make out of all these. Either I really was paranoid as a recruit, or I smelt too nice on that particular day, looked too smart, or it was really just girls with a fetish for men in army uniform.

What do you think?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

ATEC Stage One

My stomach is not exactly a very cooperative partner whenever an examination is immenient. It apparently chooses to seize up into a tightly-knotted bunch, which of course does not make breakfast any easier to go down. I didn't take any on the day of my battalion's ATEC stage one. That this is "paper one" of the finals for my unit made my throat scratchy, and I came down with bouts of coughing fits. Then again, it might be a cold, since I was wringing nasal discharge from my nose every few minutes, topping off each round with a snort, which I hoped would contain the worst until I could sneak into the bathroom.

The testers evaluate only a handpicked few from each platoon, and these lucky people are tested on one expertise out of the vast myraid of skills organic to the platoon.

None of the commanders escaped the gaze of the ATEC evaluators. Some were chosen for the thermal imager test, some had to go to Khatib Camp to be tested upon their directing of artillery fire.

Initially, when the name list for the tests first arrived, I had thought that everybody would be examined in one field or the other. As luck would have it, the rest of the platoon escaped unscathed, with the exclusion of five team signallers, whom were chosen to be tested upon their medical skills.

I pondered the irony for a moment, while the Platoon Sergeant shook his head with a smile and wished us luck.

The trouble was, I was not rather profecient with the entire test itself, since all my medical lessons in camp have revolved almost solely around the IV test. For a mere component of the evaluation, it was given a disproportionate amount of attention. Meanwhile, I struggled to recall that lesson far too long ago, and conclusively drew up a total blank. I knew that I had to rely upon the single practice session the day before the evaluation to get things up to scratch. That I could only practice one medical emergency (which included one haemohrrage and fracture in each scenario) at one single go, and the variations of the haemohrrages and fractures further complicated things. Without a proper re-learning of the entire lesson of haemohrrages and fractures, I was stuck with the scenarios that I have already practiced. I was pretty rueful that we didn't have time to re-do that lesson. The rest of the day before the test was spent going through the test format, after which the 5 of us had a choice pick of victims to do some needle poking practice. I immediately snagged the buddy who sleeps next to me, feeling confident. What are the chances that I miss his fat veins?
It turned out that I really messed up. Not only was I terribly off the mark, the catether was also slightly kinked when I drew it out.

"Oops..." I said.

The Senior Medic came around, took a nonchalant look at the blood on the newspaper (it is easier to throw newspapers than to disinfect the floor) and promptly droned urgently, "Go and take another shot at him. Go! Go! Go!" At which I could only give an apologetic shrug.
In the end, it took the Senior Medic's personal advice that I managed to successfully poke the other guy sleeping next to me. As he laid there with the arm outstreched, and I knelt there confounded by his invisible veins, the Senior Medic came around and guided my shaky hand (and needle) smoothly into the bloodstream.

In case you were wondering why I was bantering so much about the day before the test, when I actually started off with the day of the test itself, I ask that you bear with me. The links become apparent after it is revealed.

But back to the test itself. That morning, after the breakfast that I didnt eat, the 5 of us trudged beary-eyed into the medical centre for a crash lesson. With just 1.5 hours to the test, we were really hemming it in on a razor thin line.

The Senior Medic came back with some drinks a while later. To bribe you guys into doing well, he said. His eyebrows were furrowed into a temporary cast mold as we laughed at his joke.
Promptly, the examiners arrived at 8.30 and proceeded to hustle everybody out of the place. Something about not letting us have a sneak preview. The first was escorted into the hall, leaving 4 of us to do the handwringing routine, along with a few other medics unfortunate enough to get chosen for the same test.

The Boss came and gave a few words of encouragement, before floating off to another venue to dish out more of his canned words to others taking the other tests.

It was 11 when I finally got called up. At that point, I was already sick of the worrying (not to mention the frequent trips to drain the dripping nose), and went into the room with my guard down.
The lady gave me a once over, and decided that she didn't like me. Her frown told me so. I then proceeded to blotch my fractures and haemohrrages in a spectecular blaze of glory. She gave an audible sigh of frustration, and proceeded to re-tie the dressings with such a medical profeciency that I couldn't even recognise it from my lessons. I then realised that I was being tested by a civilian expert with the utmost regard for standards. I knew then that I had flunked my first two tests. At least she was pleasant enough to inform me that I had at least met her requirements for a pass.

My heart sank, since my next test would be on my IV skills, something that I was apprehensive about, since I had flunked so may times before. With no hope of a break in my failing spree, I sat there stoned. I wasn't even thinking about anything. Then my partner appeared.

"How's your veins?" he asked.

"Pretty fat, but they like to run, so you've gotta be careful when you stick them in. How's yours?"


"Er... Perfect."

When it came to be my turn to IV my partner, I took a long time to gather the stuff. The station tester smiled encouragingly at me as I fumbled with the pouches. Another shot consipring looks at me. I had to be careful. I took my partner's hand and examined it for the most obvious target for the needle, and the second tester immediately came up to me.

"Time starts the moment you check for the veins."

The other tester disagreed, an undercurrent of conflict passed between them.

"Er... Never mind that. I can start now." I cut in sharply.

And it went even smoother than I thought. The needle found its mark, and I was able to feed my partner some of the salt solution through his arm, gaining a satisfactory comment from the first tester.


The final test was on CPR, a dead gift, since I had done it so many times previous.
The Senior Medic was astonished when he heard how four of us managed to succeed in our IV test on the first try. He beamed so much that he called the company line up to spread the news. Which naturally made us feel really great. He didn't care that most of us only managed a pass mark for our fractures and haemohrrages. Which made me relieved.

The final results are not out yet, but it is the end of ATEC stage one.

IV, anyone?

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Update 1: It has been one week since that software is down. I guess I will go back to using Blogger's in-built comment system.

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