Saturday, February 28, 2009

Live Blogging from BarCamp 3 afternoon session

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My Random 25

I thought I'd post it here too, just for the posterity of it all.

1. I like the color purple. The shades that aren't awfully gaudy anyway. I love the life and vibrance of this simple mix of red and blue. Some say that makes me a king; others say it makes me a queen. It doesn't matter. Purple, I love you.

2. I am a signaller in the 8th Signal Battalion of the Singapore Armed Forces, dedicated to homeland security. If I tell you anymore than that I shall have to order in the commandos at my disposal to wipe out your bloodline.

3. I have rediscovered my love for reading (proper books, not blogs and FB notes) in 8 Sig Bn. Go figure.

4. My sources of digital entertainment are my Creative ZEN, Nintendo DS, XBOX 360, and my absolutely sexy MacBook Pro. Although the last two aren't too portable. I mean ideally I'd move all 4 into camp but...

5. I disliked coffee when I was young. After I entered uni at age 16+, I slowly began to drink coffee like an addict. I heartily blame 
Geek Terminal for sealing that addiction into my life. :)

6. I am allergic to peanuts. I will get an uneasy sensation in my mouth and if left unattended I will lose my voice for the day.

7. My mom ate a shitload of peanuts when I was gestating. Protein or something. Guess it was abit too much.

8. My musical tastes have evolved as follows:
Pri sch/lower sec: pop/boyband/radio hits
Upper sec: hardcore opera
Uni: death/black/power metal
Uni ending: add on abit of post hardcore
NS: revisiting classical music, symphonies concertos and chorals.

But I still do listen to my previous interests... the above are just my main focuses.

9. Red Cliff finally got me interested in The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and I bought the Moss Roberts abridged translation.

10. Hero and Red Cliff also got me interested in ancient Chinese music.

11. Oh speaking of music, I'm an amateur audiophile. When I... um acquire music I try to get it in high bitrates. I'm still trying to decide whether having my files in WAV format is really worth it. Damn space-costly. The history of my earphones are as follows:
Apple in-ear earphones ($68)
Creative EP-630 ($45) - one of the best budget earphones you'll ever find.
Creative Aurvana ($169) - though I got it for far less. Lovely phones they really are, but no match to even the lower end prosumers. For example...
Ultimate Ears 5 Pro ($399) - Do you know, once upon a good time, it used to be 299. Then Logitech bought over UE and fucked it all up. Royal arsewipes.

12. My ambitions have evolved as follows:
5 years old - Sebastian the crab
14 - actor
14.9 - journalist
15 - newscaster
16.2 - errr somewhere in the media wherever
17 - marketing/advertising
18.5 - Public Relations FTW!!

13. Being Communications Scapegoat for 
Tech65 sealed the above decision for me.

14. It is also my distant dream to conduct Tchaikovsky's 1812 overture, complete with cannons and a chorus.

15. I played quite a bit of pool and foosball in uni, because SIM's recreation room (now a gym) had two pool tables and a foosball table.

16. As foosball players we dreaming youngsters developed signature moves and gave them names. One could do an uncatchable arc from the defender and swing the ball in from the side - he called it the Comet. One struck from the attackers with blinding speed and precision - he called it the Heavenly Striker. I discovered a strange strength in my wrists, and developed a morale-dropping move I called Raishin - Japanese for Thunder God (yeah, shut up). The ball dropped into play, rolled along the line to my midfielders. Nobody moves. It reaches the center man, I rotate my players slightly back. All they see is a blur, all they hear is a crack. The ball disappears into the goal. The same thing done from the defenders or even better, the keeper, I called Ten no Raishin (Thunder God from Above - shut up).

17. It was a good thing there was a glass panel over the table to stop people from pocketing the ball. It also stopped plenty of eyes from getting taken out.

18. I got a beautiful black metal Seiko watch from Japan, solar-powered, sapphire-coated glass, and the ability to do a once-a-day check with Japan's time radio signal towers and sync the time accordingly. It cost S$400, which I later found out was half price. Either way, my mom had a black black face for quite some time after, but had to grudgingly admit after a few weeks that it absolutely suited my personality. When I'm out of camp it follows me everywhere I go.

Thanks mom, dad. :)

19. I lack in psychomotor skills. Slow reactions and butterfingers (limbs). In my early early years my parents were worried because of this that I was mildly autistic.

20. I personally believe that in some miraculous strange way, I do have a very mildly autistic part of me, which hardly shows up the typical ways autism do, but would account for quite a chunk of my personality.

21. I am an extremist. Even on the same subject I can at times lose interest in a matter of seconds, or get glued to it for hours. I have mild obsessions with newfound interests - buying hundreds of Magic cards to find they're essentially useless, complete sets of movie promotional magnets or calendars just for the heck of collections, buying every game I think I might like when I got my 360. List can go on. And that is why I am extremely, extremely cautious and apprehensive about getting into prosumer photography, even though I love it.

22. I am anarchically untidy in certain matters and dictatorially neat in others. When some switch in my mind is successfully flicked, I will arrange books on my shelf in order of descending height, or use a ruler to ensure the three stacks of various books on my table are in line with each other. Otherwise, the place in question basically looks like an aftermath of an earthquake hurricane and tornado combined.

23. As I was saying, I love photography because it allows me to share the little pleasures and sides of my life that I don't think people usually take notice of. Perhaps it is for that reason that I especially indulge in macro shots.

24. I get long-winded. But perhaps you have already noticed. That explains why I often give up on my own blog post drafts (yes, loso until no patience to continue. winner right?) or else write posts so long that it spans the entire webpage.

25. Ok, last one. I indulge heavily in the individuals I consider friends. Time, abit of money, favors, extra miles. My only expectation is that they will readily do the same for me. And God knows how many a quibble that has caused. :)

I do hope you've enjoyed this little indulgence in myself. As the other notes say, I would like to know you that little bit more if I tag you, so if you're willing to take some time out (I think I took 1.5h) to do this note too, be sure to tag me back. Shalom~ :)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ambition's Evolutions

My youngest recollection of an ambition, one which my parents and cousins still bring up from time to time, was a unique one. From a young age I knew I was different. And by that I don't mean that I'm gay, but that I knew I was destined for greater things, to be above all.

I wanted to be Sebastian the crab.

As I grew older I must have realised that the closest I'd ever get to that would probably be joining the cast of Disney on Ice and wearing an 10kg plushie suit of my crustacean hero. But knowing my butterlimbness (because I slip and fall too, not just drop things), I'd have probably sliced myself into four with those terrifying blades of glory. I'd probably be lipsyncing to Undar da see too, and not actually singing it, a fact I never would stand for, given the unfounded pride I have in my mellifluous voice.

In secondary school I discovered my passion for acting. Unfortunately I never quite got the roles I wanted - I was always pushed to play female roles. And my teacher always made me do that faux-Singaporean-caring-mother voice that Koh Chieng Mun did for Dolly in Under One Roof. I didn't like it one bit. I got into the ELDDS executive committee and moved to backstage management and abit of directing those couple of times when my teacher instructed me to put the performers into shape. Sounds wow, absolutely isn't. I loved comedy, but the comedy my teacher wanted me to do wasn't the comedy I wanted to do. I love Arrested Development, Ricky Gervais, and Catherine Tate. Enough? And as for my parents, they were worried about my ability to survive in the acting industry. Competitive, number one, and they worried about my being just too nice to people. I'm to this day still learning how to be a fucking arsehole when required. So they were rightly worried that I'd be conned into trafficking drugs and get fucked big time when I got caught. Hey, that's their impression of the industry. Can't say I absolutely disagree.

They kept pushing me to try for newscasting, which involved, in their opinion, having to study hard, get into the prestigious NTU Mass Comm course (or was it NUS I forgot), and flying high the traditional Singaporean way. I was essentially, an Academics FAIL, and with 17 points for O levels my parents sent me to UB@SIM to be part of the pioneering batch of B.A. in Communication students. Neither parents nor students had the faintest idea what was in store for us, and honestly I doubt the management staff did either. But it turned out to be a wacky angry melodramatic rollercoaster ride I'll be wont to forget (but probably will anyway), and for two years all I could give to the magical question was, "I have no idea. But somewhere in the media definitely."

My Public Relations module was a failure. I was interested in the subject because I was eager to be proven wrong that all PR folks are lying bastards (I know now only a few are). But my lecturer was a China lady with a heavy accent and kinda no idea what she was talking about herself. At least though I now knew abit about this curious profession, this calculated dance between brand and customer. At the same time Tech65 started picking up and as the closest thing to a communication professional I happily volunteered to be communicator for Tech65, spreading the word about what we do, attending events to stuff my face with sauteed Wagyu beef and ride on the Flyer (before the motor started rusting), and baiting companies to drop us test products. I started getting into contact with amazing PR professionals like Brian Koh, Tania Chew, Pat Law, Melvin Yuan... oh my God the list could go on for... well one more line but I still don't wanna type it all out. And as I talked to them about this whole industry I found myself staring at the beautiful crossroads of public relations and social media.

And I threw myself at it. My ambition finally took serious, concrete, almost tangible form. I subscribed to PR news sources on the net. Started reading PR books. Started perking up at every advertisement, or campaign, or PR news release or contact, approving of and criticizing practitioners' techniques and tactics, deciding what I will and will not do in the future.

I'm glad. Ambition isn't something that shapes itself up in time for your 22nd or 24th birthday. But a colossal series of events brought me to where I am today. Or else I'd still be floating about, and when I happily receive the kick in the arse out of NS on 4th June 2010, I'd stumble and fall into an immense world, speeding too fast to sit me down and counsel me on my life and what I'd like to do with it.

My ambition, or should I say dreams now that I'm older than 5, may change in a few years time. I don't know. All I know is for all the risk that comes with it, I could never survive working in a place I don't belong.


Ho ho ho.

I was just reading Kevin Lim's latest blog post about Facebook network graphing, and tried it out for myself. Quite interestingly my friends are quite neatly categorizable.

I quickly noticed a node in the center of my UB-SIM and SG Blogosphere continents and hovered over it. Who should I find, but good old...

I should have guessed. After all he was to blame for hooking a whole damn class of about 50 onto Blogger, Second Life and Twitter.

Kevin! 我们永远支持你!AHHHHHHHHHHHH~!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Part That I Missed

This Valentine's Day, 20th of my life, was as lonely as the last 5. Yeah, 5. Before that I was too young anyway. Well, this time I had the slight exception of the timely arrival of my XKCD tee.

Went to GT, eager to record 65bits but there were too many guests already (fine, just leave me out), made a hard decision to buy Street Fighter IV from Gamescore instead of waiting for my usual game shop to receive the second cheaper shipment. Helped my friend buy another copy and he swung by in a lovely new MX5 to pick it up, played it, sucked at it, went for the musical production my brother was starring in (basically, the who's who of Hwa Chong actors/resses were on stage).

And this was one of the parts that I missed.

I knew I was going to learn things that my JC friends won't for a few years yet, when I went to SIM with my parents' (financial) blessing. And as I went through the crash course of maturity that uni brings, I began to realise and accept that there will be things that JC kids will endure and enjoy, that I will miss out on. There's no CCA to have to join or face the MOE consequences in SIM. There weren't proper avenues to unleash our passions, to destress (not that we had alot to destress compared to them).

Come to think of it, there were. There were clubs. There was the... I dunno the Theatre Club or Drama Club or what had they in SIM. But we lazy buggers felt we had enough work on our hands to want to pick up on more responsibilities. Which we did. Shitloads of projects and research papers to think about. Except the JC kids (I should stop calling them kids they're my peers but who cares we all know them as JC kids) had that, and CCA(s), and still can pass with 6 A's. Us? "Have you seen the latest Bleach episode?" "Omg, fuggin' awesome, the bankai." "Totally. Hi 5."

Yes. We never did bother. With no law or grades to threaten us we didn't bother. But I realised today that I missed acting. The rehearsals where we broke down and giggled at stupid lines, quarreled about whether the chair should be a 1m stage right or 1.1m stage right, gossiped viciously about know-it-all prima donnas. Those few hours on the other side of the universe where you put all your energy, your heart, your soul, into being someone else, and that someone could be part of who you really are or a textbook polar opposite, it didn't matter. The applause, the blinding lights, the butterflies and racing heart, the applause.

Tripping over a mic cable and sending the mic and yourself flying smack in the middle of stage.

No that never happened to me. Or to anyone else in my life. God forbid.

There's something about live performances that make them magical, isn't there? But there's nothing enchanting about it. It's magical only because it had life in it. Life, passion, living breathing energy.

Once, I went to see my friend's three-man band play at Blujaz. Bass guitar, electric guitar, soprano saxophone. And they started playing Kenny G's famous hit, whatever the hell it's name was, and the whole cafe piped down, like a magical hushing spell, and listened with held breaths to the rendition. He wasn't Kenny G, I don't think he was omg genius-good, but it was all his passion, resonating in our ears. My friend raised his eyebrows and smirked at his mate at the sound of the applause they got.

The singers at my brother's performance, they were good. They were above average, in fact rather talented. But they weren't anything scream about. They weren't The Beatles, or OneRepublic (yep), or Nat King Cole. But they were real. They were there. Their mental weight was all leaned on the meaning the songs had in line with the play. And again, like magic, the crowd was deathly silent as a confused girl sang Nature Boy, as advising friends sang Hey Jude, as a boy hurt by rejection sang Apologize.

And as I watched, and applauded, I felt a little sad. Sad that I had to let my chance go to take a path less travelled. Actually, yet travelled. I was the first batch of my course. Yes I'm showing off.

Because amidst all the mindcrushing stress of having exams that would, as always with the Singaporean system, decide your life path, these JC kids could have a little fun.

And they would remember, in retrospect, that these two years were to be the last two that they were able to enjoy absolutely carefree fun. Before all the grown up shit comes in. God, they're worse than Left4Dead zombies.