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the simple life

"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Sunday, July 31, 2005


Ten Shekels and a Shirt

I didn't go to church today.

Instead, I went over to sermonaudio.com, downloaded a sermon entitled "Ten Shekels and a Shirt". I listened to it for a bit and found a transcript of it and continued reading.

An excerpt:

A young preacher came to me down in Huntington, West Virginia. He said, "Brother Reidhead I've got a great church. I've got a wonderful Sunday School program, got a radio ministry, growing, but I feel a personal need and a personal lack, I need to be baptized with the Holy Ghost, I need to be filled with the Spirit. And someone told me God had done something for you, and I wonder if you could help me?" I looked at the fellow, and you know what he looked like? ME. Just looked like me. I just saw in him everything that was in me. You thought I was going to say me before. No, listen dear heart, if you've ever seen yourself you'll know you're never going to be anything else than you were. For in me and my flesh there's no good thing (Rom 7:18). He looked like me.

He was like a fellow driving up in a big Cadillac, you know, to someone standing at the filling station, saying "Fill'r up Bub, with the highest octane you got!" Well that's the way it looked, he wanted power for his program. God is not going to be a means to anyone's end. I said, "I'm awfully sorry, I don't think that I can help you." He said, "Why?" I said, "I don't think you're ready." I said, "Well suppose you consider yourself coming up with a Cadillac, you're talked about your program, you've talked about your radio, you've talked about your Sunday School and church. It's very good. You've done wonderfully well without the power of the Holy Spirit."


I said, "No..., no, you're sitting behind the wheel and you're saying to God give me power so I can go, You won't work, You've got to slide over."
But I knew that rascal, because I knew me. I said, "No, it will never do, you've got to get in the back seat." And I could see him leaning over and grabbing the wheel.
"No," I said, "it will never do in the back seat."
I said, "Before God will do anything for you, you know what you've go to do?"
So he said, "What?"
I said, "You've got to get out of the car, take the keys around, open up the trunk lid, hand the keys to the Lord Jesus, get inside the trunk, slam the lid down, whisper through the keyhole, 'Lord look, fill'r up with anything you want and you drive, it's up to you from now on.'"

Saturday, July 30, 2005

The New Library

I was extremely hesitant to post an entry about the new library.

Especially when the whole world seems to be blogging about it.

Until I found myself in the photography section of the business and social arts reference section.

A couple, probably in their fifties, were chatting away in Cantonese. And they were browsing away. I was curious and I took a closer look.

They were flipping what I considered art books. You know, those types where people weren't wearing any clothes.

Clearly, they were impressed. They were caught up with passion as they devoured the books rather quickly.

All this reminds me of how fortunate I am to start early in my art education. I remember doing the same thing when I was in secondary school, even exposing some of these great works to my fellow schoolmates.

This goes to show that you're never too old to learn.


I borrowed these from the library:

1) Writing About Your Life: A Journey into the Past

2) Kafka Was the Rage : A Greenwich Village Memoir

3) The Power of Positive Dog Training

Pity I couldn't borrow the art stuff.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The will to communicate

"Unless we have the will to communicate, there's no connection"
- Dance Dance Dance, Haruki Murakami

My mom was telling me how Milou lacks the language to communicate with us.

That is true.

However, there's a will to communicate here. He wants us to know that he's hungry, wants to play, wants to pee and poo, wants a treat and wants a good rub. We want him to behave, stop chewing furniture and clothes and pee and poo in selected spots.

Communication is more difficult than I imagine but the will is there. I just have to hang in there.

There are friends and people around me that I have no will to communicate with. Yes, we have common languages, sms, email, chat and all sorts of useful technology. But absolutely no will to communicate.

Life is ironic.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Day 7

Milou went for his 3rd vaccination today (the first one under me).

The jab was painful. Thankfully, he's still small and we could hold him down, with difficulty of course. Can't imagine when's he bigger and stronger.

He's a lot less active, due to the vaccination. I don't know about him but that works for me. I can put him in the crate without him making a big fuss.

Doc says he's got mites in his ears and that he's a little underweight. Took care of the mites and we're feeding him more.

Mom said his instrument shrunk when he was injected. She wanted to ask the doctor why but she was too shy. Later, after watching Zoe Tay's new tv ad, she remarked on how her breasts has blossomed.

I need new housemates.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Power of the Dog

The Power of the Dog
Rudyard Kipling

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie--
Perfect passsion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart to a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find--it's your own affair--
But ... you've given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone--wherever it goes--for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we've kept 'em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-term loan is as bad as a long--
So why in--Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?


Yahoo has acquired Konfabulator and thus the widgets applications that has been so popular with Tiger Apple users is now available for PC/Mac users free of charge.

What is it?

"Konfabulator is a JavaScript runtime engine for Windows and Mac OS X that lets you run little files called Widgets that can do pretty much whatever you want them to. Widgets can be alarm clocks, calculators, can tell you your WiFi signal strength, will fetch the latest stock quotes for your preferred symbols, and even give your current local weather."

Highly recommended. Check it out here: http://www.konfabulator.com/

Also, Ravi Zach is in town. Come and listen: http://www.eagles.com.sg/lectures.html

Free is good!

Day 5

I need therapy.

A puppy is hard work and extremely disruptive to normacy. I have stopped reading, watching films, going out, eating decently. I have started spending tons of money, cleaning my house like crazy, speaking to my mom more, sleeping less, waking up every few hours.

Milou is pissing and shitting everywhere. He hates his crate, barks like crazy when shut in or left alone, whines and whelps and chews everything in sight.

It's a major lesson in patience. There were times when I want to strangle him but there are times when I love him to death (the same thing). He has this cute habit of leaning against the bed to see whether I'm there or not. If not, he will start barking and wants to get out of the room.

Toilet training is impossible. He chews up newspapers and even tore apart the customized pee pad we made for him. If not, he likes to sit on the pee pad and even sleep there. I'm going to try to put out the crate tray for him to see whether he pees there or not. After his vaccination, I want to train him to pee outside the house. But now, he can't even go out so I have to bear the pain.

I got really cross over him the other day but I managed to read something on the net that made me ashamed of myself. I hit him the other day (not that hard) as I lost my patience. I should hit myself instead since Milou isn't aware of what he does. Anyway, going to try to paper the entire floor if that's the only way for him to eliminate on paper. That's the only way to have some success for now.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change...

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Day 3

As I'm blogging, Milou is sitting under my feet, in the living room where he's still getting used to.

Last night was the only night I had some decent sleep. The previous 2 nights were hell. He was kept in its crate and would bark every now and then. If that would happen in the day, I would ignore him. But since it was night, I didn't want my neighbors to burn my place down. So I had to play with him, let him out and get him back again.

On Saturday, I let him out of the crate and he slept at the foot of my bed. Lovely. But every now and then, he would try to get my attention without barking. I would put my hand on the floor and Miloh would put his head over my hand, snuggle close and rest there. Uncomfortable but nice nevertheless.

I was thankful for the Tank and the International TV Producer coming over. We cleaned up Miloh with the $12.50 Korean Aroma Dedorant (already smelling despite his last bath 2 days ago), gotten some multi-purpose wipes ($1.95 for 10 at Watsons, "cloth-like yet Tissue-like") taped securely to the floor (Milou likes to eat newspapers) and used the $13.50 P.B. Gone urine odor eliminator on the spots that Milou had favored for his pee.

A lot of work...

Sleeping Monster

What a prince!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

It begins today

I really didn't expect Milou to be soooooooo active...

I think he's adjusting brilliantly. He didn't pee when he was in his $75 super-comfy bag when I carried him home, although he tried getting out several times. Once home, he started running about.. sniffing, slipping on the smooth floor and scratching my furniture (already? gasp!)

Since then, he pee twice on the floor. I had to grab hold of him and put him back in its $86.10 playpen. He has been having fun with some of it toys, especially its $8.40 mini tuggems.

I'm still giving Milou the Hills diet the pet shop has been feeding. Tomorrow I will slowly incorporate the Innova puppy food that is organic and costs an arm and a leg. Actually, 1 kg -$11.56. But reading about the processed, non-human grade meat inside the majority of pet foods, I'm scared shit.

Now I'm broke shit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Before Madness Begins

I thought I write before the madness begins.

I'm getting my puppy tomorrow and as Tony Robbins likes to say - Life will never be the same again.......

It's a King Charles Cavalier, a breed I love since watching a Animal Planet program. I'm calling him Milou, after Snowy, Tintin's companion and fellow adventurer.

I sent a sms to some of my friends telling them to congratulate me as I found someone special. Of course, they assumed it was a woman. Sorry to disappoint you guys...

Milou looks really sad taking photos, just like me. But he is an active healthy puppy and I'm so looking forward to bring him home.

Home now is cleaner, more spacious and really clean. I was looking carefully for cleaning agents and equipment today. Interesting development.

My mom is away and she has no clue about my latest companion. Can't wait to see her face on Friday.

Yes, photots for you all... here on cometopapa....

Thursday, July 14, 2005

In Praise of Less

Time to switch off and slow down
By Kevin Anderson
BBC News website

At a hi-tech conference bristling with bloggers constantly checking messages on Blackberries, smartphones, laptops and handheld computers, it is odd to hear a speaker suggest an e-mail free day.
But journalist Carl Honoré told attendees of the TED conference in Oxford they should unplug and slow down in a world that was stuck in fast- forward.

And for a wired world accustomed to having nearly unlimited information and the boundless choices of online shopping, it seems almost heretical to suggest that the infinite possibilities of the modern world leave us less satisfied instead of more.

But author Barry Schwartz told the conference that it was better when we had only a few choices of salad dressing instead of the 175 at his local supermarket.

These were just some of the suggestions to the audience at TED in their search for the good life.

TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) brings together experts in design, technology, and entertainment to share their ideas about our futures.

We live in a world where instant gratification is not fast enough, in a world of not only speed dating, but even of speed yoga, said Mr Honoré.

The author of In Praise of Slowness decided to decelerate after he found himself speed reading bedtime stories to his son.

He even found himself excited when he read in the newspaper a story about one-minute bedtime stories.

But he caught himself: "Has it really come to this that I'm ready to fob off my son with a sound bite at the end of the day?"
People point to urbanisation, consumerism and globalisation as the cause of this "roadrunner culture", he said, but it is more fundamental.

"In our society, time is a scarce resource," he said. "We turn everything in race with the finish line but we never reach that finish line."

But around the world, there is a backlash against this culture, such as the slow food and slow city movement in Italy.

Across the world, people are slowing down, and they are finding that they "eat better, make love better, exercise better, work better".

And Mr Honoré told a crowd flush with technology that they needed to rediscover the off button.

Technology was supposed to make us more efficient, he explained. But our lives are often so driven by interruptions that a recent report on "info-mania" found that the flood of e-mails was such a distraction that it cut workers IQ by 10 points.

One department at software firm Veritas has declared Friday e-mail free, and it found that the day has become its most productive.

Continuing the theme that less is more, author and scholar Barry Schwartz challenged the orthodoxy that to maximise freedom and welfare we should maximise choice.

It is such a deeply embedded assumption that no one questions it, said Mr Schwartz, who explored the idea in his book, The Paradox of Choice.
He pointed to his local supermarket where he has a choice of 175 salad dressings. 40 toothpastes, 75 ice teas, 230 soups and 285 varieties of cookies.

Choice is good, he said, but in modern, affluent societies most people are confronted with a bewildering array of choices that leads to paralysis.

He said that his students sometimes become stuck in low-wage jobs because they fear making the wrong choice of career.

Some professors at liberal arts colleges now joke that they "take students who would have been stuck working at McDonalds and makes them people who are stuck working at Starbucks".

With so many options confronting us about almost every decision, there is a greater chance that we will regret the decision we do make.

The myriad choices raise our expectations and create the anticipation of perfection.

Regret after making the wrong decision or what is perceived as the wrong decision leads to self-blame, depression and, in extreme cases, suicide, he said.

We are bad at realising the downside of choice.

"Some choice is better than none, but more choices don't make things better," he argued.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/07/14 10:44:27 GMT


Collecting Dreams

I don't know what I'm doing.

I'm collecting dreams but I don't know how to do it. I collected erasers, comics, toys, match boxes, women but dreams is totally new.

I'm also getting a dog but that's not collecting since there is not going to be a collection unless it's a she and she breeds big time.

I was thinking of collecting it in a book by getting people to write in it. But some people want their dreams to be private things and this book is going to get read.

Some have been emailing me but it just feels weird and doesn't look like a collection.

Why do I collect dreams?

Let me tell you when I'm done cos its something I've got to figure out.

Life is stranger by the minute.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

My Wildest Dream

My wildest dream?

Sizzling, passionate sex all night long, with a woman, preferably.

Ok, maybe something more socially acceptable...

I would like to spend the rest of my life surrounded by young animals - taking care of them, feeding, training them so that they can be released into the wild. Of course, my heart will be broken many times.

I can have another dream since this is my blog. I want to run a small cozy restaurant called JB's (after my dad) that will serve great, inexpensive food. It's a place to be yourself, to be among friends and great Western food with a Hainanese touch. Not a family restaurant, at least not with kids making terrible noises. There will be a bar and management will discourage you from drinking too much.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Film / Indigo 2005

Indigo 2005
The third edition of Indigo is back with a treasure trove of movies from and about India.

When: 27 July to 3 August 2005
Venues: Golden Village Great World City and The Singapore History Museum
Admission: Tickets for GV Great World City sessions available from 12 July 2005. S$ 9.50 (public) S$8.50 (SFS members).

2 films I want to watch are:


Urdu/Recolourized version of the 1960 original/173 mins/Drama/PG
Director: K Asif
Cast: Prithviraj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Madhubala, Nigar Sultana, Ajit, Durga Khote

Set in the 16th century AD, the movie brings to life the tale of the doomed love affair between the Mughal Crown Prince Salim and the beautiful, ill-fated court dancer Anarkali, whose fervour and intensity perpetrates a war between the prince and his father the great Mughal emperor Akbar, and threatens to bring an empire to its knees.

This classic, which took 15 years and US$3 million dollars to make at a time of US$200,000 film budgets, was a magnum opus of its director K Asif and stars stalwarts of the Indian film industry from those times. With colour technology having just arrived in India, Asif decided to shoot one reel in colour. Impressed with the results, he re-shot the last three reels in colour as well. So excited with the coloured portions, he wanted to re-shoot the whole film in colour, which was not possible, and so the film was released 85% in B&W and 15% in colour.

Sixty years later, it has been successfully restored and recolourized by its producers with technology developed by the Indian Academy of Arts and Animation. The restoration process was a challenge because of the detail of exquisite jewellery, costumes and sets used in the film. The original music composer Naushad Ali, was retained to re-create the background score and musical composition using original Hindustani classical musicians. The grandeur of the film can now be seen in vivid colour, wide-screen format with classical music in true digital surround sound. The new version of the film has received rave reviews from all corners and done extraordinary business in India, drawing new audiences and successfully completing 100 days in 14 cinemas across the country.

National Awards for Best Film 1960, Filmfare Awards for Best Film, Best Dialogue, Best Cinematography
Festivals: Berlin International Film Festival 2005
Website: http://www.mughaleazam.com/

English & Bengali/2004/85 mins/Documentary/NC-16 (Crude language)
Dir: Zana Briski, Ross Kaufman

British-born photojournalist Zana Briski overcame barriers of language, culture, and ethnicity when she immersed herself into an impoverished and illegal neighborhood in Kolkatta (Calcutta), India. An award-winning photographer, Briski befriended the children of Sonagachi (the city's red light district), starting a photography workshop for them and equipping them each with their own camera. The transformative power of this simple object is remarkable; within weeks, the children show new spirit and several have discovered a talent for the art. Briski and co-director Kaufman follow the children as they filter their marginalized, forgotten world through the camera lens. Over the course of the film, a central narrative unfolds--the children's quest, fuelled by their newfound hope and strength, to leave the brothels for a better life.

Best Documentary, 77th Academy Awards 2004, 2004 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award, Best Documentary Feature at 2004 Chicago Int'l Film Festival, 2004 L.A. Film Critics' Best Documentary of the Year
Website: http://www.kids-with-cameras.org

Wildest Dream

I finished Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go yesterday. Good, not amazing. Themes - untold love (always), science gone wrong, horrors of humanity, friendship. After Wind-Up Bird, it feels strange reading a normal book.

Today - borrowed Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy by Simon Blackburn, Dance Dance Dance (Vintage International) by Haruki Murakami & Marvel Visionaries: Jack Kirby by Jack Kirby. Should be interesting.


The Oprah Winfrey show is amazing. If given a choice on any network shows, I would work on Oprah. What a great opportunity to change and impact lives. I think her Wildest Dreams Bus is the coolest thing in the world.

What is your wildest dream?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Pictures / Neil Gaiman in Singapore

Opinion / Of Freaks and Monsters

The Neil Gaiman book signing was a very interesting experience.

We (Mr. Tan too) were in the queue at Borders for 4 hours. Which meant we were at the front of the queue - an extraordinary feeling, I might add. Especially if you considered that the queue ended at the traffic light opposite Paterson Road.

The wait didn't feel like 4 hours. Probably because we made friends easily. It's been sometime since I talked so easily with strangers or rather, strange Singaporeans.

You must know that all Neil Gaiman fans are kind of warped.

Girl with tie - freelance illustrator. Kept mentioning her fiance in the US. Said she was a misfit in school. Introduced Neil Gaiman to her mom (how cool is that?). Told me she suffers from chronic fatigue. Mr. Tan said she suffers from depression. Tie looked kind of strange on her. Mentioned her real self and her online self (first time I heard someone used these terms on themselves, nice for it to jump out of the textbooks). Told us her fundamentalist principal in school banned all references of Hawkings and evolution from class. Plays World of Warcraft, likes manga and has C S Lewis as her favourite philosopher. Generally nice.

Millionaire Playboy - self proclaimed. But confessed later his dad is the real millionaire playboy. Didn't dare to ask him about his mother. Plays World of Warcraft, collects Marvel comics. Has a $26,000 G5 at home for him to play computer games and surf internet. Kicked out of La-Salle since he missed a lot of classes. Waiting for NS. Generally easy-going.

NS Kengster - in National Service but has long hair. Long term MC, some problem with leg. Conned his friends to come the day before with him so he got 12 books signed instead of 3. Today, he's here again. Collected comics too. Like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.

Apple Users - one male, one female. Male has Powerbook because he wants all his options covered. Mass comm student in Tampines Poly. Didn't know they had one. Female is quiet but is part of the.....

Knows everyone in ORCHARD ROAD duo - 2 females, they know all the passer-bys. I asked them how. They said nothing to do so all their friends shop. Talking about their generation.

Mechanical Engineer - met him the day before. Prefers Alan Moore to NG. Arkham Asylum, the comic not that he should go to a madhouse. Studying in NUS, Mechanical Engineering, asked us sacarstically how many engineers read literature. Wore like 500 crosses around his neck - Mel Gibson fan maybe or Jesus Freak. Has also some funky rings, badges on his bag and accessories. Like me, likes to borrow comics from library and not buy.

Lit Student - a member of the sock box club - they gave a box of socks to NG. From Chinese High, said I looked familiar. Told him about Murakami, hope that will screwed up his life. Said his teacher told him about NG.

Was invigorating talking to them. Makes me feel young again. Beats talking to adults. Really.

Book was signed. Thanked Neil for his blog and his constant writing. Neil was the most normal man I met that day. Polite, said thank you many times. Autographed and wrote in Mirromask - Never Stop Dreaming.

I won't.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Film / Singapore GaGa

Singapore GaGa is a treat.

Hours after it ended, friends were still making references to the documentary and making inquires of the One-Dollar Tissue Lady.

At its purest level, it is a documentary disguised as a comedy, giving it the best possible chance of reaching a mainstream audience. Not many can resist missing out on our audacious National Treasure, Ying the juggler; the musicality of Yew Hong Chow whose voice itself is a generous instrument and the irresistible One-Dollar Tissue Lady who is above everything, a survivor.

But it is beyond this physical level where it touches the sublime.

Melvyn the busker opens the film. A song. The heart-breaking Wasted Days and Wasted Nights. The distant, profile view of the camera is intense and culminates in the reverberating "Why should I keep loving you/ When I know that you're not true?

Someone said Singapore GaGa is a love song to Singapore. For me, it must be one of those bittersweet ones, frustrating yet stubbornly hopeful, and raises more questions than answers.

Why should I keep loving Singapore? The question stuck in my head. The film refuse to yield, prodding along, teasing, charming me with its quirkiness and ends up again with Wasted Days and Wasted Nights and had me laughing again at the post-credits sequence.

Eventually, I found my answer. I had to first overcome some preconceptions. I was expecting the people in the film to tell me how they love this country, despite being ignored, prejudiced against, lambasted and exiled outside the confines of the mainstream. That wasn't the case.

I had to also understand what love for a country was. A GaGa kind of love? Perhaps the title is unfortunate. It was more likely a love more commonly associated with the older generation, signifying commitment rather than desire and the long haul rather than gratification. It could also be a love in spite of. Love without conditions. Agape love perhaps?

The people in the film are simply amazing. They all have deep passions; whether its Jesus, music, singing, performing, life partners or Singapore. In most cases, its a love that is unrequited and unresponsive. But our heroes are unrepentant; they love and stay in love through thick and thin. They busk, they sing, they juggle, they teach, they take care of their mates, they praise the Lord; they don't give up.

Why should I keep loving Singapore? Perhaps because I'm committed to. I was born here and maybe that's good enough. And like our heroes in the film, I should love her despite her deep insecurities, her bureaucratic failings, her false pretences, her confusing contractions and her hurtful disregard and contempt for me.

Singapore GaGa? Maybe not. But I'm learning to love.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Opinion / Change Shouldn't Be The Only Constant

I have asked a good friend of mine to post an entry here. I'm a big fan of his blog but he wants to remain anonymous. God bless his soul.

I am privileged to be asked to write for a friend of mine. Thank you Mr Lim. It's ironical because I am not exactly going through the best of times in my life, and being in the pits makes me wonder if there is anything meaningful I can contribute here. Many major changes in my life, you understand, making me feel a bit disoriented. New job, new handphone, new church, new
everything. No new woman though, In fact, one just walked out on me yesterday. Now you see why it hasn't been easy. But let us not go there, shall we? Like what Rev. Lawrence Khong once said before, change seems to be the only constant nowadays. He wasn't the first person to have said it. Marcus Aurelius, an ancient Roman emperor cum Stoic philosopher, already said the same thing centuries ago. Don't ask me exactly when. I may be educated, but I am no scholar.

If what was said about change rings true centuries ago, how much more so today. If you ask me, modern society in all its fast-paced schizophrenic madness seems to be rushing its way into destruction. Information technology, and for that matter, every category of professional knowledge in general, is evolving and expanding at an exponential rate, causing many things to change overnight in a twinkle of an eye. 10 years ago, the blocks in my neighbourhood around Redhill were the newest. Now, my area is the second oldest. All around me, condominiums are springing up everywhere. My block, at present, in all her inferiority complex, is griping about how obsolete she is soon becoming, being left on the shelf, with no one to marry her. Believe me, concrete granite has feelings too.

Some modern changes are good and for the betterment of humankind in every sense. Some changes, sadly, are for the worse. In other instances, well, we seem to be changing just for the sake of changing. Take my new handphone,for instance. Sony Ericsson T630 Black. It's prettier, more sophisticated,has more functions, and even has a camera, but I don't know how to use
most of the functions. Of course, although these functions are quite complicated, with some effort and attitude, the skill to operate them can be learnt anytime, anywhere. But why bother? Why not keep things simple? I take a much longer time to message my friends using my new T630 compared to my old dinosaur Nokia 3310. Phones are meant for the convenience of verbal conversation after all. Does one really need so many electronic functions to handle modern life? There are some techno-geniuses, in other words, geeks and nerds, who will answer yes to the above question, but for me as a general user, I guess I am not so sure.

Laptops and palmtops and bartops. Sorry, a slip of the tongue. Let's try again.

Laptops and palmtops. In future, I predict that there will be thumb-tops, since they already have thumb-drives.

Handphones with MP3 players, cameras, video, video games, radio, internet and e-mail. Did I miss anything out? In future, I predict that handphones will also have MPEG 2 for DVD video quality, Microsoft Office and Winfax functions. Or are these already out in the market?

I am intrigued, almost overwhelmed, by how varieties in communication and media devices have increased by leaps and bounds over the recent decade. But so have the divorced rates. What went wrong?

We know that sophisticated communication devices are meant to enhance communication between people, but people with prettier handphones don't seem to be friendlier, more conversant, or more tolerant in social interaction. What then, is sophistication for? Ostentation?

You are right. I am the one with the "hao lian" T630. I am no better than those I criticise. Hey, give me a chance to explain, will ya. There are some good things about my T630. My bills will be cheaper because of free incoming calls and 700 free smses. They offered me some cheapo student plan thingie. And I got the phone for free. So it's all for saving money. Mind you, I still love my old Nokia 3310. But it's burning a big hole in my pocket, so I had to let it go. If you ask me, I hate sophistication unless it increases efficiency. If I can help it, I prefer things simple.

Or maybe I am too stupid for my intelligent T630.

In my opinion, we are changing so fast that we are losing track of things. Somehow, while doing our best to be on the ball, we lost the ball. We are slowly but surely losing a fixed reference point from which we can deduce if what we are changing for is worth it.

Our youth today need a reference point. You can bet on it. I was a teacher for 4 years and I have seen them. They get worse by the batch. For 7 months, I was an education officer in a Christian reformatory centre and I saw the worst of them, the teenage delinquents. From smoking to glue-sniffing, gang involvement, fights and computer games, everything. They are a unique bunch. Of course, they are full of energy like we used to be. But the difference with them is, their senses are bombarded and enticed by all sorts of exposure which we could not even imagine when we were their age. They are a product of our times, a reflection of our policies for change, for what we call technological advancement. Did they really change for the better? Are they really better than us now, after so much "progress"?

I hope I am wrong. Maybe I have seen too much of the worst side of life. Or I hope it's just cynicism eating me away.

I think our young need someone with a sense of history to tell them how some things were better in the past and, to be fair, how some things have improved today. I always believe that people without a sense of history are doomed to repeat its mistakes. That is partly why I enjoyed Murakami's Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. It's his most political work. He based some of his plots from actual historical accounts, and painted the accounts so vividly that they stay in your mind. If you consider the fact that Japan, for a very long time, censored historical records of her brutalities against Asian countries like China and our very own Singapore, what Murakami did was ground-breaking and very brave.

My friendship with Mr Lim goes all the way back for almost 15 years. After living for more than a quarter of a century (ouch), you are kind of forced to acquire a more mature sense of who your friends are (or should be), and who aren't. Recently I deleted over a hundred names in my handphone directory as the majority of them are strangers and acquaintances who don't care about me, and vice-versa. After some evaluation and serious reflection, I also deleted my Friendster account because out of 40 people, only 3 or 4 care about me, and vice-versa. No offense to anyone here. I wouldn't say that I have little time left because I don't think I am dying soon (you never know though), but with less time left on Plant Earth it causes one to be more stringent in choosing the right companions to live for what is worth the long overhaul. For me, evaluating my history keeps me rooted to a reference point. It helps me listen deeply to the recurring patterns of the main themes of my life. There really is not much time to waste.

Thank you Mr Lim.

Mr S Tan