Thursday, June 30, 2005

Rock climbing @ Climb Adventure

is quite quite fun but very very straining on your fingers. 11 dollars for entrance and equipment is within the affordable range for such fun, though I would still rate it much much below wakeboarding (pay 1 cent, get 1 cent goods mah...)

I tot my fingers were strong, but I was wrong... Need more training.

Garry had taken a fall when I got there, and Gwen also kena rope burn - and that's a bad bad thing. Guess they won't be going there this sat liao... (SEP gang, we ARE going, rite?)


Went down to Amoy Street Food Center after that for a staggered lunchbreak of epic length, eating wanton mee (the queuing time formed the boring half of the epic), ching teng, and or-ni. Didn't have any past encounter with or-ni before, but tot the one I tried was rather rather nice, though I will probably never try it again after Elisa told me that a lot of very unhealthy stuff goes into it. It's worse than condensed chendol, yah?

Walked around like 2 confused monkeys searching for a banana tree in a coconut plantation later, though we were really looking for the ('legendary') posh Restaurant At The End Of The... Amoy Street which sells or-ni. We found it in the end, and the fact that it was closed then was, well, err..... hmm. At least now I know where to get or-ni should an insatiable urge for it arise.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Decemberists - The Sporting Life

From the album "Picaresque"

I fell on the playing field
the work of an errant heel
the din of the crowd and the loud commotion
went deafening silence and stopped emotion
the season was almost done
we managed it 12 to 1
so far I had known no humiliation
in front of my friends and close relations

There's my father looking on
and there's my girlfriend arm in arm
with the captain of the other team
and all of this is clear to me
they condescend and fix on me a frown
how they love the sporting life

And father had had such hopes
for a son who would take the ropes
and fulfill all his old athletic aspirations
but apparently now there's some complications
but while I am lying here
trying to fight the tears
I'll prove to the crowd that I come out stronger
though I think I might lie here a little longer

There's my coach he's looking down
the disappointment in his knitted brow
I should've known
he thinks again
I never should have put him in
he turns and loads the lemonade away
and breathes in deep
the sporting life
the sporting life
the sporting life
how he loves...

There's my father looking on
and there's my girlfriend arm in arm
with the captain of the other team
and all of this is clear to me
they condescend and fix on me a frown
how they love the sporting life

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

SoC Corridor

Sometimes in the wee early morning, I see him
in the SoC corridor. We see each other
quite often and not. His footsteps are familiar intrusions -
intrusions I am happy with, but not. His unshaven face, tired and pensive,
of logics and algorithms yet still resonating in his weary mind.

We know each other - by face, not by name
We never greet each other - yet we always do
His way is to the toilet, at the end of the corridor
passes me and my laptop, silent peers behind my back
Does my desktop fascinate him? I've decorated it with enough applications
just for him and anyone else that bothers.

The glass door closes, and the bleep goes away
I casually turn in time, to just see him turn. He will emerge
to fill his water bottle at the cooler - that I know.
And he will also spend a moment gazing at the still dark field -
a field where Others played softball and soccer in the day.

The door bleeps, and he is back - there is no one else but him.
Wet stains on his shirt I know without seeing - he doesn't bother
with details, except those in his mind
I get up too, to go
to the toilet - it's a periodic joy from work.
The floor is his and the wall is mine to eye, for we are
competitors who should never see eye to eye.

Which lab is he from? What is his area of research? Is he a PhD student? Is
he alone? Who is he?
He is companion and competitor.
In this silent world of intensive thoughts, of dulled minds, of unspoken efforts,
of meaningless toil,
He is fellow geek, friend.

See the world from your computer!

Dear folks, if you haven't heard the news, Google Earth is out - and it's a whole lotta fun to play around with! Try it now!

It's a shame that I don't have a compatible graphics card, else I could run NASA World Wind on my comp as well... NASA World Wind seems a more professional, comprehensive and detailed mapping software (hence installation file of 180MB vs GE's 10MB), and I think I might have more fun with it, if only I could get it started on my laptop...

Photos for wakeboarding 05-06-21


Repetitive (and thus boring) shots of 3 guys trying their hands at wakeboarding.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Albums I'm listening to now...

Picaresque - The Decemberists
Blinking Lights And Other Revelations (Disc 1) - Eels

The N.E.X.T Challenge

The N.E.X.T (Northeast XTreme) Challenge was fun though quite stressful. Went around Northeast Singapore Amazing-Race style solving stations. Although we didn't get the top 3 prizes, it was quite an experience to run around like mad dogs with ginger stuffed up their anus... or maybe not. And Joey got a $40 NTUC voucher in the lucky draw!

Our Team, Fast Forward -
Clockwise from Jacqualine: (Jacqualine, Joey, Tan Chee Wee, me, Kelly, Ivan)

Shitty things that happened:
1) We lost a precious 40 min in our very first station due to a WRONG CLUE GIVEN! That sux big time and took away our opportunity of being the top 3 teams.

2) Pebble path walking was really bad... had to walk one round individually along the 100m long pebble path barefoot, followed by another 2 rounds as a group. The sucky part came in at the end, when we were awarded only a measly 4 (out of 20) for completing the station. We saw another group with the full score (20), and it seemed apparent that chio bus do indeed stand a better chance with the chubby geezer-of-a-station-master.

3) Almost lost out at one station because the station mistress had half a mind to give us only 2 marks due to cheating (which I vehemently disagree - I merely sped up the process =)).
What happened?
We were supposed to unlock 4 number locks from a playground, using clue sheets requiring us to solve mathematical puzzles (thereby deriving the numbers on the lock) - I sped up the process by breaking the codes on all the locks (they never say cannot break lock waht...) and bringing the locks back first, leaving us with the mathematical puzzles to complete.
In the end, we were given points for the number of clues sheets that we solved.

Good things that happened:
1) Chio bus! We saw quite a few of 'em. Let's count the significant ones...
There's one @ Escape Theme Park. She asked us to see our answer to the question for comparison (which Kelly gave a firm no). But I think she's the type that knows she's beautiful and takes advantage of that, and haha.. was she surprised when kelly said 'no'.
There's the other @ the number lock station, where she stood gasping at how we manage to get the number locks without solving the questions ('Gasp! How did you do that?'), and Kelly tried to coerce her into giving us full points in exchange for the secret technique.... haha.. joker.

2) We had quite a bit of fun! Was thinking of going on a hike with Chee wee and ivan in the holidays, and this was twice more productive than hiking along ulu paths around Singapore...

3) We got 4th place, and got an iPod Shuffle 512MB each on top of some cash. And that brings me to the question....


More information on iPod Shuffle

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Chee wee's

birthday yesterday was spent @ chinatown kbox singing oldies (generally what we used to hear over the radio waves during our childhood days - we're not that young anymore. :|) till 3am in the morning followed by a few games of big 2 at Joey's house before everyone collapses into different states of concussion from lack of sleep.

How this evolved from a taun session @ Sentosa and/or an overnight @ Hotel 81, I do not know. Let's just say that the bunch of us are quite 'dynamic' in decision-making, less Joey, who proclaims proudly 'I am a conformist.'

Went for a beverage survey session @ Tanjong Pagar in the early afternoon after eating a very pleasant Wanton mee @ Maxwell Food Center. It's not a well-paid survey (only $15), but heck, I didn't exactly give useful information anyway- I impaired my tastebuds over the scalding wanton soup, and was simply randoming my answers to the survey questions.

It was coffee. Nuts I know about coffee, but let's smoke 'em.

'Not very. But I like the slight acidity underneath the bitter surface. Gives it a resilent character...'
'So... is that an Excellent. Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor, Very Poor, or Bad?'
'Poor, then.'
'Erm, poor meaning 'too bitter for your taste?''
'No, it's not bitter to boot, and I like it that way... '
'This question is in reference to how you LIKE the bitterness of the coffee, not the bitterness of the coffee. So do you like the bitterness of the coffee?'
'Ah. Then I'll put it as good.'
'Good? Good.'
She circles a number in her survey form and continues...

Surveys always have questions phrased in different words, but quite asking the same question - perhaps to find if the surveyee is of sane mind and/or is not paying attention. I think I wasn't terribly consistent in answering the questions, and might have given differing opinions, cos my bad memory does not allow me to remember my past random opinions given. =P. Heck, anyway.

It's only 15 dollars.

I'm not very responsible, am I?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

How do you know you've put your earphones on wrongly?

When a car drives from left to right and you hear a car driving from right to left.

Annual Report (06/04 – 06/05)

2004/2005 has been an interesting year for Frank. He spent one semester in University of British Columbia under a Student Exchange Program, and the other semester in Singapore during a curriculum of 5 modules, 2 of which are under the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory criterion. In short, he has been having it easy academically, but he has put his hours to effective use outside academia.

During his stint in UBC, Frank has traveled to quite a few places, including the Canadian Rockies, Calgary, various cities around the Vancouver (Kamloops, Lytton, Victoria in Vancouver Islands), Seattle, Chicago, and San Francisco. He has also undergone a short relationship.

After coming back to Singapore, Frank has taken on the government’s advice to adopt a healthy lifestyle, exercising regularly and vigorously. Frank also took up a rose-selling project for V-day and prospered that slightly. He started driving lessons soon after V-day, and is still taking lessons now. He has also passed a kayaking proficiency course, and is now with the intention of pursuing it slightly further. Shortly after end of semester exams, Frank went to Taiwan and China for holidays. But all good things must come to and end, and the Honours Year Project is hot on his tails now....

Financial Matters
Frank is in serious debts. His extensive travellings has taken a toll on his bank account. His recent lifestyle and purchases have shown positive effects in diminishing his bank account. His driving lessons (which are stll ongoing), and his stay in PGP next semester will prove to be significant factors for debt increase. His newfound interest in wakeboarding may also prove to be a significant.

There is no declared earnings for V-day sales, as net earning is 0.

Past major expenses
Vancouver SEP 10,000
Taiwan 1,000
China (Yunnan) 1,650
Driving lessons 750
Harddisk 224
Protein 150
Wakeboarding 90
Jogging shoes 85

Lee Foundation Scholarship 10,000
SEP Loan 3,000
NUS Undergraduate Scholarship + allowance 1,600

Current bank balance = 500 (DBS) + 1000 (UOB)

Future liabilities
PGP rent 1,000
Driving lessons 750


Semester 1
UBC modules was based on a pass/fail system, and not much time was spent studying (except for last hour cramming)
All passed

Semester 2
There was significantly less concentration and emphasis on studies this time round, and CAP took a nose dive. This was because of time spent on V-day sales, accumulated time spent on exercising, and time spent thinking/moping on a past relationship (quite a significant part of it with other mopers over Friday suppers, and mostly during study times – most distracting.) Another reason may be the declining interest in staying on in the Computing field.
Semester CAP was an all time low of 3.83333333333
Brought CAP down to 4.5

Future projections
Now that my CAP is down to a dangerous 4.5 (borderline for 1st class), I have to score A-s for all my remaining modules. Other than FYP I have 3 other modules to clear, which might mean (Sem 1: 2 modules + FYP ; Sem 2: 1 module + FYP). Although the workload is light, it is no guarantee of success. But staying in PGP and having my own work desk in CIRL may prove good.

My FYP is on implementation of TwinGlass, a system for IPv4 and Ipv6 translations in routers, in the FreeBSD platform.

Quite some changes in healthy lifestyle. At the start of work year 2004/2005, I started on an active exercise program, mainly in terms of circuit-trainings and joggings. This was disrupted shortly after, when I left for Vancouver (the weather was too freaking bad for jogs and outdoor activities), but resumed when I came back to Singapore.

Currently, I do circuit-training almost everyday, with each session being 2 rounds of (25 pull ups, 50 sit ups, 50 lateral sit ups on left obliques, 50 lateral situps on right obliques, 3 min leg stretch on either leg, 70 modified push ups). On alternate days, I couple this with a 4km jog around CCK neighborhood. To sustain muscle repair/growth, I do take protein supplements in moderate amount after exercise.

I've also started kayaking as a hobby, and am looking for an opportunity to do my 2-star course (I need a partner to go with me!); I've started martial arts in NUS (Ivan's looking at Capoeira, which may also be a possibility); I've also started wakeboarding of late. Wakeboarding's freaking expensive, and it may well be a short term fling. Swimming/jacuzzi/suntanning/sauna is done occasionally, when Melvin's around for me to use his condominium facilities.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


This is ZX. It's his first time and he's really scared - all his toes are shaking...

This is ZK. He's done it a few times. Yup, he's a happy wakeboarder.

This is the handsome hunk himself. Can't get enough of him?

Here's another!

We had Punggol Nasi Lemak for dinner, and a bridge session with Shiyu after that. I was Master Sergeant, damn...

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Slightly drunk

is what I was, on Friday night at NTU's bash @ ChinaBlack.

I don't think I've ever drunk this much before (Drinking is a very rare occurance for me) - 3 Vodka limes, 1 tequila shot, and 1 beer. This may not seem much to you, but it sure did make me feel a slight motion when I'm standing still, and it might well be then that I understand how a straight line can be bent by gravity in the time-space fabric, when I move.

To date, I don't think there's any meaning in clubbing by itself, so you've really got to create your own fun if you want to make it worth coming - otherwise, why come? Because you're begged by a good friend to buy bash tix from him doesn't justify as a good enough reason to be in a club - standing in a corner of the dance floor interacting among your close friends and drinking and doing nothing does not make your dollar stretch any further. If I'm interested in chilling with my friends (with drinks), I'd rather do it in a pub - it's less of a hazard to your ears, and infinitely more classy.

Went for Ghost Train with joey and chee wee after that. Don't watch the show. At the end of the show, I wasn't sure if I didn't understand the show because I was drunk, or there simply wasn't any plot to the show. After reconnaissance with chee wee(my first hypothesis may apply to him too) and joey(who didn't go to ChinaBlack), I was convinced that it is a thoroughly lousy show, not even worth a monday afternoon's ticket price, or even its VCD price, in fact. Horrible waste of $9.50.

Was very late for badminton (woke up late) with Eu, Zqueen, and yy the next morning, and felt myself direly lacking in endurance - I think it's the alcohol the night before, but it may be a placebo effect.

Eu had an accident in the morning, surprise surprise... but I guess even birds may crash into each other in the sky sometimes.

We (Jacq, Kelly, Jessie, Zhigen, and Jacq's frens) boycotted Marche (Suntec) that night as there wasn't enough space to sit us all, and went to Swensen's instead. Fully utilised my birthday vouchers from NTUC Income. Mango cake (not durian, chee wee!) was nice. Thanks to Jacq for the treat. =)

And oh yes, I think we should all avoid Suntec Sky Garden, if we are not going there with our bf/gf, because you'll feel so out of place among all the couples smooching and making out silently in the cover of darkness. And it's definitely not a good place to talk about BGRs and marriage stuff there. =|

Photos for China (Yunnan) Trip

are finally here..

05-05 Bad English
05-05 Eu and Zqueen in Yunnan
05-05-17 Kunming
05-05-18 Dali
05-05-19 Dali
05-05-20 Lijiang
05-05-21 Shangri-la
05-05-22 Shangrila
05-05-23 Jiuxiang Caves
05-05-24 Shilin
05-05-25 Kunming

Friday, June 17, 2005

Bad English in Yunnan

Photos I took of signages in Yunnan.


In the Jiuxiang Caves...

Outside Jiuxiang Caves. The 'Litter' here refers to a 2-man-carried sedan, but can be used on the litter bin as well, I presume. ;)

Words describing the 'Jiuxiang Rocks'.

Horrible! Horrible! Look at the whole passage!

Men's. Hmm....

A notice @ Shangrila Airport.

Notice @ cable-car point near the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Don't follow.

An unusual 'Keep off the grass' signage.


'No Smoking' sign.

'Goodbye' sign

'Keep off the grass'

Is 'APPELLENT POLICE' synonymous to 'Complaints'? It is, in this interpretation...

I get the meaning, but... it'

'V's vs 'U's.

'Pu-er' Tea Speciality Shop...

Clothing store.

Hmm... what's Frost Shoulder?

Minor problem here - bad word-wrapping.

This is where tourists come for a short REST, and citizens come to collect their pensions and live happily ever after.

Ticket Office. Yuans (chinese dollar) spelled wrongly (sometimes) as yun.

Spelling errors.

Woah... Pay ATTENTION to SANITATION! It rhymes! And who's going to reclaim the recyclables?

Bad spelling and bad translation. Export(c) is meant to be 'exit' here...

Luggage deposit counter.



Hmm... again.

Some minor errors.


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Wakeboarding outing

with my JC friends turned out to be another of our Bridge sessions, sigh. Well, not really sigh- Bridge is always nice. =)

Lightning over the sea near Johor made it seem quite impossible to wakeboard, thus the backup plan of Bridge (I always carry a pack of cards to play with 'em Bridge-fanatics). Hmm... in fact, Bridge seems to be the backup plan of choice among most of my friends.... That doesn't say very much about my choice of friends, eh?

Fun way to play bridge - SAF Rank System
Much as some of us show great distaste to this great organisation of the nation, we find that there are indeed some useful knowledge imparted to us by it. The SAF Rank System, for one, is one such knowledge - without it, we wouldn't have come up with such a ludicrous game.... how does it work then?

Brief knowledge of the great SAF Rank System:
The ranks are ....
(smallest fry)
Lance Corporal
3rd Sergeant (the start of stripes on sleeves)
2nd Sergeant
1st Sergeant
Staff Sergeant
Master Sergeant
Non-commissioned Officers [no need to salute]
2nd Warrant Officer
1st Warrant Officer
Master Warrant Officer
Senior Warrant Officer
Commissioned Officers [invested by President, must salute]
2nd Lieutenant
Full Lieutenant
Captain (if Senior Warrant Officer goes for course, can become Captain)
Major (the first rank with crabs on ampulet)
Brigadier General (the first rank with stars on ampulet)
Major General
Lieutenant General
(biggest shot)
.... and that's all the knowledge from SAF that we need for the game.

First, we get 2 objects of very great significance to no one (handphones will suffice very well when nothing else is at hand), and set them as the losers' tokens. This means that the loser pair after each game will hold on to these 2 tokens, one each.

The objective of the game is to NOT hold onto these now accursed tokens. Holding onto any one of the two tokens for a consecutive term will result in your PROMOTION up the ranking system, a cruel fate that everyone wishes to avoid.

You can start the game with everyone as cao recruits or bloody privates, and the goal is for any 1 of the 4 Bridge players to raise through the ranks and become a BG or MG or LG (depending on a predefined highest rank attainable) . Strategies of the game will thus involve non-token-holders trying to make token-holders hold onto their tokens, while token-holders try to get rid of them. Note that this may very well mean you might want to try and lose the game (if you have a token-holding partner, and you're not currently holding onto a token), just to make your partner rise in ranks.

On getting the highest rank, everyone else must perform a full salutation/investiture ceremony to congratulate the longsuffering officer, before breaking up for supper at Mac's or kopitiam.

Other rules/qwerks of the game:
1) The individual shuffling and dealing cards will be the lower ranked of the losing pair in the previous game.
2a) Verbal abuses from a higher ranked officer to a lower ranked soldier is always permissible.
2b) Verbal abuses from a lower ranked soldier to a higher ranked officer is always a chargeable offence.
3) The higher ranked officer is always right, in all situations. (Even when he's wrong.)
4) The Staff Sergeant (and above) can hold Staff Parades to tekan the lower ranked soldiers.
5) If you rise through the ranks very fast, you can be termed a 'high flyer', a SAFOS Scholar, or SAF Local Scholar, depending on your speed of promotion.
6) Lower ranked soldier must always address Officers as 'Sir', and try their hands at bootlicking.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


The Bistromathic Drive is a wonderful new method of crossing vast intersteller distances without all that dangerous mucking about with Improbability Factors.

Bistromathics itself is simply a revolutionary new way of understanding the behaviour of numbers. Just as Einstein observed that time was not an absolute but depended on the observer's movement in space, and that space was not an absolute, but depended on the observer's movement in time, so it is now realized that numbers are not absolute, but depend on the observer's movement in restaurants.

The first non-absolute number is the number of people for whom the table is reserved. This will vary during the course of the first three telephone calls to the restaurant, and then bear no apparent relation to the number of people who actually turn up, or to the number of people who subsequently join them after the show/match/party/gig, or to the number of people who leave when they see who else has turned up.

The second non-absolute number is the given time of arrival, which is now known to be one of those most bizarre of mathematical concepts, a recipriversexcluson, a number whose existence can only be defined as being defined as being anything other than itself. In other words, the given time of arrival is the one moment of time at which it is impossible that any member of the party will arrive. Recipriversexclusons now play a vital part in many branches of maths, including statistics and accountancy and also form the basic equations used to engineer the Somebody Else's Problem field. (An SEP field can be erected on, or projected around a bizarre and unbelievable scene so that the unconscious minds of the observers instantly abdicate responsibility for its existence, assert that it's "somebody else's problem", and therefore don't perceive it at all.)

The third and most mysterious piece of non-absoluteness of all lies in the relationship between the number of items on the bill, the cost of each item, the number of people at the table, and what they are each prepared to pay for. (The number of people who have actually brought any money is only a sub-phenomenon in this field.)

The baffling discrepancies which used to occur at this point remained univestigated for centuries simply because no one took them seriously. They were at the time put down to such things as politeness, rudeness, meanness, flashness, tiredness, emotionality, or the lateness of the hour, and completely forgotten about on the following morning. They were never tested under laboratory conditions, of course, because they never occured in laboratories - not in reputable laboratories at least.

And so it was only with the advent of pocket computers that the startling truth became finally apparent, and it was this:
Numbers written on restaurant bills within the confines of restaurants do not follow the same mathematical laws as numbers written on any other pieces of paper in any other parts of the Universe.

This single fact fact took the scientific world by storm. It completely revolutionized it. So many mathematical conferences got held in such good restaurants that many of the finest minds of a generation died of obesity and heart failure and the science of maths was put back by years.
Slowly, however, the implications of the idea began to be understood. To begin with it had been too stark, too crazy, too much what the man in the street would have said, 'Oh yes, I could have told you that,' about. Then some phrases like 'Interactive Subjectivity Frameworks' were invented, and everybody was able to relax and get on with it.

The small groups of monks who has taken up hanging around the major research institutes singing strange chants to the effect that the Universe was only a figment of its own imagination were eventually given a street theatre grant and went away.

The Sense of Proportion issue - The Total Perspective Vortex

The Universe, as has been observed before, is an unsettlingly big place, a fact which for the sake of a quiet life most people tend to ignore.

When you are put into the Vortex you are given just one momentary glimpse of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation, and somewhere in it a tiny little marker, a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot, which says "You are here."
The Total Perspective Vortex derives its picture of the whole Universe on the principle of extrapolated matter analyses.
To explain - since every piece of matter in the Universe is in some way affected by every other piece of matter in the Universe, it is in theory possible to extrapolate the whole of creation - every sun, every planet, their orbits, their composition and their economic and social history from, say, one small piece of fairy cake.
The man who invented the Total Perspective Vortex did so basically in order to annoy his wife.
Trin Tragula - for that was his name - was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.
And she would nag him incessantly about the utterly inordinate amount of time he spent staring out into space, or mulling over the mechanics of safety pins, or doing spectrographic analyses of pieces of fairy cake.
"Have some sense of proportion!" she would say, sometimes as often as thirty-eight times in a single day.
And so he built the Total Perspective Vortex - just to show her.
And into one end he plugged the whole of reality as extrapolated from a piece of fairy cake, and into the other end he plugged his wife: so that when he turned it on she saw in one instant the whole infinity of creation and herself in relation to it.
To Trin Tragula's horror, the shock completely annihilated her brain; but to his satisfaction he realized that he had proved conclusively that if life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.

Marvin left behind to stop a tank

Marvin stood at the end of the bridge corridor. He was not in fact a
particularly small robot. His silver body gleamed in the dusty sunbeams
and shook with the continual barrage which the building was still
He did, however, look pitifully small as the gigantic black tank
rolled to a halt in front of him. The tank examined him with a probe. The
probe withdrew.
Marvin stood there.
- Out of my way little robot, - growled the tank.
- I'm afraid, - said Marvin, - that I've been left here to stop you.
The probe extended again for a quick recheck. It withdrew again.
- You? Stop me? - roared the tank. - Go on!
- No, really I have, - said Marvin simply.
- What are you armed with? - roared the tank in disbelief.
- Guess, - said Marvin.
The tank's engines rumbled, its gears ground. Molecule-sized
electronic relays deep in its micro-brain flipped backwards and forwards
in consternation.
- Guess? - said the tank.

- Yes, go on, - said Marvin to the huge battle machine, - you'll
never guess.
- Errmmm... - said the machine, vibrating with unaccustomed thought,
- laser beams?
Marvin shook his head solemnly.
- No, - muttered the machine in its deep guttural rumble, - Too
obvious. Anti-matter ray? - it hazarded.
- Far too obvious, - admonished Marvin.
- Yes, - grumbled the machine, somewhat abashed, - Er... how about an
electron ram?
This was new to Marvin.
- What's that? - he said.
- One of these, - said the machine with enthusiasm.
From its turret emerged a sharp prong which spat a single lethal
blaze of light. Behind Marvin a wall roared and collapsed as a heap of
dust. The dust billowed briefly, then settled.
- No, - said Marvin, - not one of those.
- Good though, isn't it?
- Very good, - agreed Marvin.
- I know, - said the Frogstar battle machine, after another moment's
consideration, - you must have one of those new Xanthic Re-Structron
Destabilized Zenon Emitters!
- Nice, aren't they? - said Marvin.
- That's what you've got? - said the machine in considerable awe.
- No, - said Marvin.
- Oh, - said the machine, disappointed, - then it must be...
- You're thinking along the wrong lines, - said Marvin, - You're
failing to take into account something fairly basic in the relationship
between men and robots.
- Er, I know, - said the battle machine, - is it... - it tailed off
into thought again.
- Just think, - urged Marvin, - they left me, an ordinary, menial
robot, to stop you, a gigantic heavy-duty battle machine, whilst they ran
off to save themselves. What do you think they would leave me with?
- Oooh, er, - muttered the machine in alarm, - something pretty damn
devastating I should expect.
- Expect! - said Marvin, - oh yes, expect. I'll tell you what they
gave me to protect myself with shall I!
- Yes, alright, - said the battle machine, bracing itself.
- Nothing, - said Marvin.
There was a dangerous pause.
- Nothing? - roared the battle machine.
- Nothing at all, - intoned Marvin dismally, - not an electronic
The machine heaved about with fury.
- Well, doesn't that just take the biscuit! - it roared, - Nothing,
eh? Just don't think, do they?
- And me, - said Marvin in a soft low voice, - with this terrible
pain in all the diodes down my left side.
- Makes you spit, doesn't it?
- Yes, - agreed Marvin with feeling.
- Hell that makes me angry, - bellowed the machine, - think I'll
smash that wall down!
The electron ram stabbed out another searing blaze of light and took
out the wall next to the machine.
- How do you think I feel? - said Marvin bitterly.
- Just ran off and left you, did they? - the machine thundered.
- Yes, - said Marvin.
- I think I'll shoot down their bloody ceiling as well! - raged the
It took out the ceiling of the bridge.
- That's very impressive, - murmured Marvin.
- You ain't seeing nothing yet, - promised the machine, - I can take
out this floor too, no trouble!
It took out the floor, too.
- Hell's bells! - the machine roared as it plummeted fifteen storeys
and smashed itself to bits on the ground below.
- What a depressingly stupid machine, - said Marvin and trudged away.

The Tea Incident

A short while before this, Arthur Dent had set out from his cabin in search of a cup of tea. It was not a quest he embarked upon with a great deal of optimism, because he knew that the only source of hot drinks on the entire ship was a benighted piece of equipment produced by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation. It was called a Nutri- Matic Drinks Synthesizer, and he had encountered it before.
It claimed to produce the widest possible range of drinks personally matched to the tastes and metabolism of whoever cared to use it. When put to the test, however, it invariably produced a plastic cup filled with a liquid which was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.
He attempted to reason with the thing.
'Tea,' he said.
'Share and Enjoy,' the machine replied and provided him with yet another cup of the sickly liquid.
He threw it away.

Arthur threw away a sixth cup of the liquid.
'Listen, you machine,' he said, 'you claim you can synthesize any drink in existence, so why do you keep giving me the same undrinkable stuff?'
'Nutrition and pleasurable sense data,' burbled the machine, 'Share and Enjoy.'
'It tastes filthy!'
'If you have enjoyed the experience of this drink,' continued the machine, 'why not share it with your friends?'
'Because,' said Arthur tartly, 'I want to keep them. Will you try to comprehend what I'm telling you? That drink...'
'That drink,' said the machine sweetly, 'was individually tailored to meet your personal requirements for nutrition and pleasure.'
'Ah,' said Arthur, 'so I'm a masochist on a diet am I?'
'Share and Enjoy.'
'Oh shut up.'
'Will that be all?'
Arthur decided to give up.
'Yes,' he said.
Then he decided he'd be damned if he'd give up.
'No,' he said, 'look, it's very, very simple...all I a cup of tea. You are going to make one for me. Keep quiet and listen.'
And he sat. He told the Nutri-Matic about India, he told it about China, he told it about Ceylon. He told it about broad leaves drying in the sun. He told it about silver teapots. He told it about summer afternoons on the lawn. He told it about putting in the milk before the tea so it wouldn't get scalded. He even told it (briefly) about the history of the East India Company.
'So that's it, is it?' said the Nutri-Matic when he had finished.
'Yes,' said Arthur, 'that is what I want.'
'You want the taste of dried leaves boiled in water?'
'Er, yes. With milk.'
'Squirted out of a cow?'
'Well, in a manner of speaking I suppose...'
'I'm going to need some help with this one,' said the machine tersely. All the cheerful burbling had dropped out of its voice and it now meant business.
'Well, anything I can do,' said Arthur.
'You've done quite enough,' the Nutri-Matic informed him.
It summoned up the ship's computer.
'Hi there!' said the ship's computer.
The Nutri-Matic explained about tea to the ship's computer. The computer boggled, linked logic circuits with the Nutri-Matic and together they lapsed into a grim silence.
Arthur watched and waited for a while, but nothing further happened.
He thumped it, but still nothing happened.
Eventually he gave up and wandered up to the bridge.

In the empty wastes of space, the Heart of Gold hung still. Around it blazed the billion pinpriks of the Galaxy. Towards it crept the ugly yellow lump of the Vogon ship.

'Does anyone have a kettle?' Arthur asked as he walked on to the bridge, and instantly began to wonder why Trillian was yelling at the computer to talk to her, Ford was thumping it and Zaphod was kicking it, and also why there was a nasty yellow lump on the vision screen.
He put down the empty cup he was carrying and walked over to them.
'Hello?' he said.
At that moment Zaphod flung himself over to the polished marble surfaces that contained the instruments that controlled the conventional photon drive. They materialized beneath his hands and he flipped over to manual control. He pushed, he pulled, he pressed and he swore. The photon drive gave a sickly judder and cut out again.
'Something up?' said Arthur.
'Vogons!' snapped Ford, 'we're under attack!'
Arthur gibbered.
'Well what are you doing? Let's get out of here!'
'Can't. Computer's jammed.'
'It says all its circuits are occupied. There's no power anywhere in the ship.'

He started to speak, and stopped.
He started to speak again and stopped again.
Finally he managed to speak.
"Er," he said. He cleared his throat.
"Tell me," he continued, and said it so nervously that the others all turned to stare at him. He glanced at the approaching yellow blob on the vision screen.
"Tell me," he said again, "did the computer say what was occupying it? I just ask out of interest..."
Their eyes were riveted on him.
"And, er... well that's it really, just asking."
Zaphod put out a hand and held Arthur by the scruff of the neck.
"What have you done to it, Monkeyman?" he breathed.
"Well," said Arthur, "nothing in fact. It's just that I think a short while ago it was trying to work out how to..."
"Make me some tea."
"That's right guys," the computer sang out suddenly, "just coping with that problem right now, and wow, it's a biggy. Be with you in a while." It lapsed back into a silence that was only matched for sheer intensity by the silence of the three people staring at Arthur Dent.

As if to relieve the tension, the Vogons chose that moment to start firing.

Errata on H2G2

My previous posts have lots of errors concerning my recollection of H2G2. I do have a bad memory.. =P

It is the egoistic Zaphod who was involved in the sense of proportion issue; the restaurant mathematics is called Bistromatics and is an alternative branch of math that drives another space craft, having nothing to do with the Improbability Drive in the Heart of Gold.

Read the following posts for the abovesaid interesting scenarios...

Monday, June 13, 2005


was funny, but not funny enough. It would have made 7 monkeys clap in unison even before breakfast if they'd understand what was going on in the show - but since they probably don't understand, you won't ever get all 7 of them to do such acts together. They're terribly proud of this act, and display it sparingly - perhaps only during pompous ocassions such as successful taming of the new zookeeper, or arrival of lunch.

But then, I'm digressing.

If you've read the books before the show, you would have cried foul (or simply a shocking 'Noooooooo' [remember to tail off in lowering amplitudes for better effects]) at their not following the plot to the letter. Quite right that the characters were there (Hail to Zaphod, the greatest ceremonial figurehead(s) to divert the citizens' attention without trying!), but I'm quite sure that they went to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe for luncheon in book 2, which was before the time earth was recreated by the dophins (yes, the dolphins recreated earth! Not the mice! The mice were out of cheese to fund such a grand-scaled project). Don't ask me how they managed to get to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe when the universe is (No, was. No, hadden was. No, hadden wassen. I am pretty bad at imperfect past-in-the-future tense) still around.

And they've left out lots more interesting scenarios that I can't even begin to mention (There was an interesting concept of 'restaurant mathematics', where the Infinite Improbability Drive used the unfathomed field of mathematics derived from the dynamic motions of waiters (how do waiters in a restaurant balance several plates of food and maneuver themselve in a crowded room of clumsy customers waving their hands about shouting 'Garcon!', without dropping their plates? That, my dear, is mathematically impossible in nature...)

and let's not even start with the Sense of Proportion incident, where Arthur faced the horrible torture instrument which gave him the full grasp of knowing how infinitesimally microscopically small he is when compared with the size of the universe. Most people would go insane with shame right after that, but Arthur went right off with a clean bill of health, with a satisfied ego.

To cut a long story short, you might not enjoy the show so much if you've watched the books. But it's intrinsically a funny movie, one which you would enjoy anyway. Just that having read the five books in the trilogy(?) will dampen your spirits that bit, because justice is not carried out to perfection with the books in the movie.


are birds that run like clockwork mechanisms made by a swiss expert, in attempts to not get their feet wet along sea shores while scouring for food which exists along the sea shores.

I first saw them along the beach of San Francisco, and that might very well be the last time I see them too.

What have I been up to these days?

Exactly, what have I done these past few days? Let's do a recall, just to keep a record, shall we?

Mornings are either devoted to driving lessons or pathetic attempts to wake up early.

8th -
Driving in the morning, backing up my harddisk.
Swimming and jacuzzi and sauna @ Melvin's place in the early afternoon.
Met up with Chee wee and Joey who passed me the Billabong boardshorts and tee.
Went to watch The Return (Advice: Don't watch! It's a waste of money) with Eu and Queen and yy, and walked about the esplanade.
Exercise at night.

9th -
Morning was driving, followed by swimming and bowling at Melvin's place in the afternoon(5 dollars/hour/lane! Cheap cheap!)
Night time was spent playing cards with ZX and Lynn and Wendy (whose B-day fell on the 13th) @ Cuppage Center's 24-hr Kopitiam.

1oth -
Driving in the morning again. Followed by the cursed day in school (F2$%@%!%!%). Zikai flew back from London (for good! yay!) and we had a jovial time playing bridge @ his place @ Fulton. We gatecrashed a BBQ over @ lynn's sister's place later, and the food's not shabby at all.
Took a walk along (instead of jog) the usual route at night, cos the BBQ within threatened a vomit otherwise.

11th -
Reading Screwtape Letters in NUS SoC, while watching the softballers and soccer players in the field.
Played 2 hours of table tennis with yy (she's good, I tell you) till evening time.
Sent Bobby off (Japan) and navigated my brother around, fetching my sister from a wedding dinner @ Raffle Marina, and dumping the long overdued 2 bags of clothes @ Salvation Army.

12th -
Went driven around Singapore after church @ Bkt. Panjang to Yishun (Evangel Family Church),with mom and bro and sis (picked her up from Evangel), before settling down for lunch @ a nice char siew and roast duck stall along upper Thomson road (near Han's). There was a sudden craze for good food and we drove further down for prata, across Thomson Plaza (the now defunct Thomson Yaohan)
Jogging and exercise at night was tiring, but I think I'm catching up to speed.

Free music @!

Go register yourself for 1 month (and then cancel subscription) and download 100 FREE songs now!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Grrr @ SoC Helpdesk

There is something intrinsically wrong with the system (or the staff) - it's not flexible.

What happens when one goes up to the helpdesk and asks for help - he needs the CDs for reinstallation of XP and Office on his harddisk (which crashed a few days ago)?

He is given a website address to submit requests for CDs WHICH ARE AVAILABLE AT THE HELPDESK. Can he access the website from the access terminals AT THE HELPDESK? No, not allowed - helpdesk comp terminals are imbued with holy power and not meant for mere mortals that walk the earth. He has to go find some other terminals. Fine.

What happens when one does all of the above and comes back to the helpdesk to collect his requested CDs?

He is asked if he has received the auto-replies to his email account on the availability of the CDs. Has he checked his email yet? No? Then he should. Can the helpddesk check it up? Probably, but helpdesk's not checking. Nope. Go find your own terminal and check your email, you sorry ass...

What happens when one finally gets the confirmations from the comp system, and goes back to inform helpdesk on it? The helpdesk takes your matric number, CHECKS IT UP WITH THE SYSTEM, AND FINDS WHAT YOU HAVE REQUESTED.

Helpdesk my ass. And that's not all the crap they give. There's more.

What happens when one finds that the WinXP CD he borrowed contains only the debugging version? He has to resubmit requests, wait for auto-reply, then come back to the Helpdesk - the usual formalities.

What happens when one submits the request, and waits patiently for 1 hour for the auto-reply to come? It doesn't come.

What happens when he approaches the helpdesk in desperation? He is told the auto-reply system runs at 230pm(around that) and 7pm - they are generated only during these periods of time, perhaps also at other weird times like 2359h. Would this information have helped him when he approached the helpdesk at 3pm? Yes it would. Does the helpdesk open till 7pm? No, it closes at 5pm+-. He'll have to come back tomorrow.

Can the helpdesk lend him the CD WHICH IS LYING IN THEIR LIBRARY SOMEWHERE AT THE BACK, there and then, and get it back in 1hr, when installation is finished? No, they need to do paperwork first. Can Frank do paperwork before permission arrives? Nope.

Did Frank waste the whole afternoon travelling down from home to NUS? You bet.

Damn the helpdesk and everyone involved in making Frank waste his time.

And damn bureaucracy and birds that deliberately shit on people's head.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

I spent

the whole of this morning in Scout HQ pinning down the locations of the currently existing Singapore scout groups onto a defunct map dated 1997, in the conference room. Edmond might be going back to the Scouting Movement as an Area Commissioner (again), and he's 'dividing territory' to perhaps carve out an area of control.

Armed with green and red coloured pins, highlighters, stickers, and a street directory, we embarked on a seemingly primitive workflow - one person write and cut sticker, one person say out the school to locate, and one person locate the school. 6 hours! This bloody operation took us that much time.

During this period of time, we were interrupted by a few old-time scouts (I learned later that they were the chief comminssioner, the area commissioners, and the Executive Director), and I was slightly irritated by their haughty airs - they demanded us out of the conference room that they can discuss about the world Jamboree. I'm no longer in the system, and I can't be bothered with who they are in the system - so long as they interrupt my service to Edmond, I stand pissed.

Had quite a smashing time playing badminton with Eu, Zqueen, JY, and YY in the afternoon, before proceeding to JY's house for dinner and bridge/big2. Felt quite bad that I smashed a shuttlecock right into JY's right eye, making her eye all red and teary...

Was so tired when I got home, that I fell asleep at the workout station in the park during my routine circuit.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I am definitely going to see this movie. Who wants to go watch this movie on any weekday (cheaper rates), raise up your hands?

Then sms/call me @ 93620231.


If you want to get into my good books (though I have absolutely why you would want to do so), you'd best do well by buying me a new optical mouse for my coming birthday. Not any optical mouse, mind you - it has a highly specific nature -
weight: lightweight required, but must have a slight momentum for effective short darting motions
size: medium sized - not too small that I have to contort my hand to hold it (unless you're trying to gimme Carpal-Tunnel Syndrome), nor too big that I cannot grasp it with my hand.
The clickety-clickety buttons: must be easily depressable, and with good rebounding springs, for more clicks per seconds.

Why a mouse?

Because my trusty mouse is getting old and is slightly deaf to my clicks. It's causing me seconds for my minesweeper, and I can't even touch my previous high scores now, dammit..

I am so out of shape.

Apparently the overseas trips have not done me any physical good, it seems, for I'm having trouble getting back into my routine exercises... I'm aching more than usual now.

These few days have been quite busy with exercise (bouts of swimming, jogging, circuits, and one session of wakeboarding!), and meeting up with friends.

Am continuing with my driving lessons now, with test date scheduled in Aug. But it's not really a good sign to have so many stalls the first day I resume my driving lessons... My driving instructor was quite frustrated with me, and started into bouts of nagging, so much I too became frustrated and told him to shut up (bad move). Now he's mostly sulking in his corner and being quite see-lah-I-shut-up-see-how-you-fumble. I did apologize to him and told him incessant nagging when I'm in bouts of panic (cross-junction, stuck in turning box, green lights, carssss behind, car stalled. What's worse?) does not help at all, but he's not taking it well. Sigh. He's harder to cajole than a girl.

Oh, and wakeboarding was fun! Should have joined Garry earlier in his wakeboarding sessions. But it's still quite expensive to be a periodic affair.