Friday, September 30, 2005

Some of the notable reading material in my life

Note: dates are not publication dates, but dates read.

John Grisham novels, mid/late 90s.

Grisham’s courtroom dramas were riveting. They got me curious about the legal world to the extent of reading law books out of interest.

Changing to Methodist College in Sentul, 1999 to 2000.

In hindsight, the best thing about this institute was that it was so damn far from home. The train ride to school takes 45 minutes, and the ride back another 45 minutes. I adopted the habit of grabbing magazines from home to read on the dull train rides. Over the course of 2 years, I went through countless publications of Time, Discovery, Scientific America, Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, National Geographic, Planetary Review and Reader’s Digest. Yes, we used to subscribe to all of them.

An article in Scientific America, late 2000.

In one short article, I learned about exponential functions, polar coordinates, the natural log and Euler’s number, e. From SPM (O-Level) mathematics, it was a quantum leap. I managed the leap, and plotted my first logarithmic spiral and investigated the curious polar coordinate system (I figured its just the Cartesian half-plane with no negative X, then wrapped round and round a point) while studying for my SPM.

“A Brief History of Time” – Stephen Hawking, 2001.

This was THE book that set me on to non-classical physics. First time I ever saw a Minkowski diagram, light cone, curled up spatial dimentions and strings. Not to mention the connection between black holes and the Chandrasekhar limit on a star’s mass.

“Sophie’s World” – Jostien Gaarder, 2002.

A very good introduction to the history of Western philosophy. Also helped me realise that the validity ideas and thought are not set in stone.

Lecture notes for “Spacetime and Matter” – Keith Baker, 2004.

All the way from The University of Nottingham's School of Physics and Astronomy, this was my definitive introduction to special relativity and quantum physics.

“Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann and the greatest unsolved problem in mathematics” – John Derbyshire, 2004.

This was the book that got me interested in number theory. Hideously nasty material for a noob, but so well written that you can survive even if you miss some of the difficult stuff.

“Deception Point” – Dan Brown, 2004.

Storyline is ok, writing style is fine, pace is nice and fast. The key point was analysis of data. If the truth of one statement depends on another earlier statement, one should check the validity of the preceding statement too.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Please Judge a Book by Its Cover

I was sorting through my folders and found this story I wrote 50 weeks ago.

I have been, and will continue being in the near future, busy with assignments, essays, reports, presentations and the like. As a consequence, updates will be sparse. Hopefully not as sparse as the moon's evergreen forests.

And on to the 50-week old story.


Please Judge a Book by Its Cover
Tan Yee Wei

I had been promoted to the position of human resources director for the firm. With that came a healthy increase of my purchasing power. Since I could afford it, I decided to upgrade from my Honda Accord.

While the Honda had been reliable, economical and generally fuss free, it did not have the aura of magnificence I felt I deserve. What I wanted was a Mercedes Benz S class… S500 if I had the money, but an S350 would suffice nicely. I called a dealer for a price quote on a new S350L. “That would be upwards of 760 thousand Ringgit, depending on your options,” a cheery voice told me. I gasped a bit, and asked, “760 thousand?” “Well, it depends. You might want to add on a sun roof, metallic paint, air suspension, run-flat tyres, full leather trim, 7 speed automatic gearbox… and that would come to,” there was a pause as I heard a calculator being punched rapidly. Either there were many digits, or he was giving me a lot of discounts. I decided that it was more likely the first option, and hung up before I had a chance to hear the figure. “Shit.”

But I need an S class!

Then I suddenly remembered part time consultant that did odd little miscellaneous jobs. Perhaps he might have a solution to this. I went to my store of business cards, and searched through them, slowly. To my amusement, I found lots of other people I had forgotten about. Assassins, drug dealers, pimps, gardeners, debt collectors… I proceeded through the stack, with lots of other ‘services’ available, but not what I wanted. Finally the last one looked like it. It was facing down. I took it, and slowly turned it around…

Mr. Tan Yee Wei


“Yes!” I called and arranged an appointment through his secretary.

On the pre-arranged date, I turned up at his office. It was well lit by sunlight through a window, its intensity diffused by an array of shutter blinds. A few articles of beautifully polished large metal parts were displayed on a side desk. He later told me these were “a clutch diaphragm spring from my mother’s Toyota Prado, a front disc brake rotor from my father’s Mercedes E280 and what I presume to be a cam timing gear from a Honda.”

I told him my problem. It took 3 minutes. He asked question. And more questions. It took 3 hours.

Finally, he declared, “I see the problem. I think I know what to do. Would be 300 thousand for a car be fine? Good. I’ll start seeing what I can do.”

After 2 weeks, he called me. “I found a car for sale. Used S280 going for 260k, excellently cared for. Just the right colour too…black! The seller is holding on to see if you are interested.” He outlined his plan:

Black is just right. It’s a 280, but we can easily replace its tag with a S350 tag. This car is from 2000 or 2001, so its little details would be different from that of a newer model. What changed the most would be the front and rear lights, side skirts, front and rear bumpers. For the lights and bumpers, we would get original Mercedes Benz replacement parts. We’re almost done making it look brand new, except for the bottom trimmings.

The side skirt it a bit of abnormality. There’s a strip of dull black paint all along the bottom edges of the side skirts and bumpers. This makes the car look higher up in the air than it actually is. I think the black strip acts as a barrier to accidental scratches, in case anyone manages to scratch the black strip with a bad parking job or anything, no one will notice it. We’ll remove that barrier. You just make sure your driver takes good care. We’ll use fully coloured and better styled skirts all round the car. They will be a tad bit lower, but look a lot lower because there’s no more of that black strip business.

Rims. We’ll need aftermarket rims. 21 inches are huge. They’ll fit in just about ok, but there will be too little clearance to do any suspension tweaks. Besides, they cost a fortune, the ultra low profile tyres cost a fortune, and the combined result is 2 fortunes and an uncomfortable ride. I would recommend 18 inches. Then, you’ll have some clearance left to lower the suspension. Just a little bit lower. We don’t want to be scraping the road. What we want is to hint that the car is sleeker than the other S without being overly obvious how. Also, before lowering, your wheel fits in the wheel arch evenly. Lower it a bit and it starts to disappear behind the metal at the top. That makes the wheel look nice and big, while not being obnoxiously huge. Since the car is a black one, plain silver rims would do nicely.

Next, we go to the last bit- the exhaust pipe. Get a polished chrome AMG pair to complement the black paint. You might consider adding an AMG logo on the boot lid just to show off.

Now, it will look like a million Ringgit- 3 times what you paid for!

Here’s your shopping list- Mercedes Benz S280 (RM 260000); skirting, rims, OEM lights, exhaust pipe, suspension tuning kit, S350 tag, labour to install.

I got the car as advised, and made the modifications. It started off a worn car from the turn of the century. After a week of work, it became a gleaming new work of art. When I drove it to my son’s school for the first time, students pointed and chattered. I basked in the reflected beauty of my million Ringgit car, the image of my success, and the genius of my consultant Yee Wei.

I feel good.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Food food food

One week past Mid-Autumn, and mooncakes are selling at acceptable prices. On Saturday night, a few friends and I went hunting for mooncakes. In our case, ‘hunting’ resembled activities analogous to shooting at fish in a barrel- there was no risk, no effort, no life or death decisions. In short, our mooncake hunting was far unlike the hunting games that African lionesses (male lions are nothing more than useless, hairy sperm bags) and gazelles play.

The first shop we entered were selling mooncakes at half price. Implicitly figuring that microeconomics MUST be at work and thus other stores will be discounting at about 50%, we got our stuff there.

After much contemplation and conferring, we settled on four different variants (twin-yolk white lotus paste; red bean; quad-yolk lotus paste; golden emerald) and got a box of each.


On Sunday morning, I went to the market with the same group of friends. At the butcher’s, Mr. B saw lumps of pork leg roast on sale.

“Should we get one of those to share?”
“Do you know how to cook them?”

The butcher knew- roast it in an oven at 180 deg. for 80 minutes with both the upper and lower elements turned on. At the end, ratchet up the heat on the upper elements to crackle the fatty skin. He also mentioned something about covering it as it would make a mess in the oven. We did not really catch the last part.

The pork leg roast appears to be a segment of de-boned pork leg, and tightly bound with cotton string into a tidy little bundle as to compress it, thus removing the unsightly void where the bone used to be.

Dinner consisted of attempting to roast that pork leg, but because we wrapped it in aluminium foil, it was more baked than roasted. Chillies, butter and lots of mushrooms were also added into foil wrap. A few potatoes were baked and then served swimming in with generous amounts of molten butter. Another portion of potatoes were intended for mashing, but turned out slightly under-boiled, so they were simply diced into fragments and mixed with all sorts of seasoning. Again, including butter. Celery stir fried with oyster sauce and loads of garlic rounded off for the vegetable corner. Coffee wrapped it all up. We forgot to consume the herbal chicken soup which was made earlier in the day, so it turns out that chicken soup wrapped them all up.

Dinner was brilliant.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

The chord of 88 notes

Standing at the far sides of the stage were two grand pianos, waiting silently with their keyboards and resonators covered. Dimly lit by stray rays intended for the centre stage, the pianos gleamed softly, its edges glinting where they caught the light. Each of the colossal Steinway Model D concert grand pianos were finished in the blackest and shiniest of black, the sort of black one would find on a well polished black BMW 745iL.

“We better get started quickly,” a male voice came from the darkness, “I need more practice on our duet.”
“Lets get the pianos in position and we’ll be ready to go,” another male voice replied.

They each approached a piano, and walked around their instrument, bending down at each leg to unlock the castors’ shiny pair of brass wheels. Having removed their brakes, the half-tonne instruments could now be moved with ease, if at a pedestrian pace.

The first pianist smelled a momentary fragrance of inspiration, “Let’s see who can get his piano into position first.”
“What the…” the other pianist was lost for words. Never had he heard of such an absurd proposition.
“Come on, the sooner we get them in place the earlier we can start.”
“These things weight 500 kilograms!” the second pianist mounted a feeble protest.
“That’s the challenging bit isn’t it?”

Each of the pianists stood ready, prepared to lean into their ponderous engines of music. At the collective count to three, they both heaved at their grand pianos. Owing to the inviolability of the natural laws of the universe commonly ascribed to the second holder of the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge University, the pianos accelerated at a slow rate due to their sheer inertial mass.

The pianos accelerated from mere inching to crawling speed, then to walking pace before approaching the speed of a brisk walk. By then, the pianos were about three quarters of their way to their destination spots, but the two competing pianists remained very closely matched. As 6 pairs of brass castor wheels rolled across the wooden stage floor, they emitted a gentle rumbling as a reminder to the world that they were rolling.

“Shit. Stop! We’re going to crash!” A spark of realisation hit one of the pianists.

He was right. What was in their eyes a scene of two racing pianofortes was now a scene of the impending collision of two steam locomotives out of control, or two raging bulls arguing over fertilizing rights to a particularly fetching cow, or two colliding stars just doing what colliding star systems usually do. It was about as heart wrenching as seeing in slow motion two shiny black BMW 745iL luxury saloons rushing to plough into each other head on.

On the stage, two hearts suddenly increased their pumping frequencies from a sedate 95 beats per minute to 170bpm. The panicked pianists did their utmost best to restrain their pianos’ progress, but it was to not much success at this stage of the race. Due to the sheer inertial mass of the instruments, the pianos could only be decelerated at a slow rate, again owing to the inviolability of the laws of the universe commonly ascribed to the second holder of the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge.

The two Steinway Model D concert grand pianos approached each other with hardly any mercy. In hindsight, it was hardly surprising since pianos were not known to be sentient creatures capable of emotions. It was true that an expertly played piano, like a deftly wielded katana, is capable of stirring various emotions. However, it is also true that the piano and katana themselves are unfortunately excluded from this business of emotions.

The pianos collided at an angle, the rear portion of one driving into the keyboard of the other. Upon impact, cracks developed in the birch wood casing, propagating at the speed of sound and fracturing the casing. Each of the lovingly finished (that’s what Steinway wants the public to believe anyway) cast iron frames which held the piano wires under tension received a terrifying jolt, causing each and every wire to vibrated wildly, transmitting their vibrations to the sounding board and thus making a tremendous super-chord of 88 notes simultaneously on both pianos. This feat was not bested until 23 years later when a group of similarly inclined pianists managed to crash a trio of 9-octave grand pianos to create a 108 note mega-chord on 3 pianos.

At first glance, the damage did not seem overwhelmingly bad. There were only a few cracks along the piano casings, some failed keys and actions, maybe a misaligned soundboard and extensive mistuning. The cast iron frame which held the wires appear to be intact, and no wires were broken.

However, a US$100,000 grand piano is not expensive only because of its premium material parts, but mainly because of the care taken to make sure the thousands of components are matched together perfectly.

At second glance, the damage was horrific.


I recently watched a piano duet on a pair of Steinways, and it was magnificent! I will not embarrass anyone by trying to describe the wonderful performance. But, I can’t really keep my mouth shut, so I’ll say that among the many things to do before death, watching a piano duet on a pair of pianos with a magnificently fast paced and energetic piece is an absolute necessity.

If today’s writing style is a little weird, it can be attributed to the influence of Douglas Adams, the same person who brought us The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s brilliant! Scattered in it are loads of strange jokes that makes one go, “wth? lol.” For example:
Arthur prodded the mattress nervously and then sat on it himself: in fact he had very little to be nervous about, because all mattresses grown in the swamps of Squornshellous Zeta are very thoroughly killed and dried before being put to service. Very few have ever come to life again.

In fact he was built the way one builds leather sofas: shiny, lumpy and with lots of solid stuffing. The suit into which the man's body had been stuffed looked as if it's only purpose in life was to demonstrate how difficult it was to get this sort of body into a suit. The face had the texture of an orange and the colour of an apple, but there the resemblance to anything sweet ended.


Sunday, September 18, 2005

WTF is Mooncake Festival?

Mooncake Festival? That’s probably one of the silliest ideas I’ve ever heard, along with astrology and fortune-telling.

Mid-Autumn Festival is commonly referred to as Mooncake Festival, Tang-Lung (lantern) Festival or Lantern Festival. If this trend continues, we may well have renamed many other festivals in our calendar.

Here’s a preview of our bleak future:

Chinese New Year will cease to exist. In its place will be an Object Oriented Celebration of various items. Mandarin Celebration, Ang-Pau Festival, Biscuit Celebration and Operasi No-Fireworks will be some of the synonymous names given to this Object Oriented Celebration.

Thaipusam will also cease to exist. This time, the names given to the replacement Object Oriented Celebration would range from Kavadi Fest, Coconut Bash, Sri-Mahamariaman – Batu Caves Tour, to Celebration of 272-Steps.

Happy Mooncake Festival!

This post was entirely in irony, and hopefully you have a stress-free Mid Autumn unlike me rushing for a report due for submission on Wednesday noon.


Friday, September 16, 2005

The elegance of mathematics

I’ve been trying to count the number of elementary operations f(k) needed to compute the determinant of a k x k matrix of real elements.

This is the general form for the number of elementary operations:

Since this is a recursive function, we need to define the first case, which is the trivial case of a one-element matrix: f(1) = 0. The determinant is simply the value of the element, and no operations are necessary to arrive at this conclusion.

Now for the bragging bit. I managed to reduce the recursive function into a more manageable function that can be computed without knowledge of f(k-1).

Further investigation and lucky breaks has revealed that f(k) converges to e*k! (e = 2.172818…) very rapidly. At k=18, it is accurate to within 15 significant figures. At k=19, the accuracy is at least 30 significant figures.

The elegance behind mathematics is such that it is possible to convince people that there is a higher being.


Re-expressing the function by removing k! from the summation:

Interestingly, the constant e can also be defined as such:

But the series is a sum of infinitely many terms, as compared to f(k) which has only k terms. Thus a finite series such as that found in f(k) does not actually equal e, but converges towards e.

Comparing the definition of e with f(k):

The growth rate of the factorial term is so fast that it very rapidly overwhelms the (k-1) term, and thus (k-1) can be dropped from the approximation. To illustrate the difference in scale using k=15:
k-1 = 15-1 = 14
k! = 15 x 14 x 13 x … x 2 x 1 = 1.3 x 10^12 (there are 13 digits in this number)


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bang! You're tagged!

The narrow alley was less than 2 metres wide. Tall buildings crowded out the sky; not that there was any light coming from the night sky anyway. The alley resembled a jagged line cutting arbitrarily between clusters of buildings in the urban mess, sometimes branching into lanes, doorways or leading out into the main roads. Dull incandescent lamps lit the alley at sparse intervals, their light supplemented by the lucky bright window now and then.

A group of 7 individuals walked down the alley, each heading to their own destination but caught in the same location by some stroke of coincidence. Out of individual behaviour, a collective herding behaviour emerged, and they travelled in a knot until individuals had to diverge from the group.

The group of 7 were:
Laid Bare
Yee Wei

They came to a particularly dark area of the alley, and a small lane crossed their path in a threatening manner. Could there be opportunistic muggers waiting behind the corners of crossroads? They turned to face sideways, covering each others’ backs.

There was no threat. They silently heaved a sigh of relief, and reordered themselves into a slightly more casual cluster.

At precisely that moment, Yvy appeared in front of them. Preoccupied with their relief, no one had saw how she had materialised out of thin air. Did she jump out of a window? Had been crouching behind a bin? Crept up a manhole? None of them would ever find out.

Contrary to what the movie industry would like people to believe, Yvy did not appear with a spine tingling chill. She did not bare her fangs, dripping with viscous saliva. She did not yell, stomp or made a fuss. She merely appeared. Silently.

With the same composure and silence as she arrived with, she drew out her shot gun and fired a round of biochemical pellets into the group. Reloading the chamber with a quick pull-push of the pump, she fired another round of pellets. When she was sure that everyone of the group was infected, she disappeared into the darkness.


Now that I’m infected with this meme parasite, I am compelled to fill this out and then spread it to other victims. Some modifications have been made.

Seven things I plan to do before I die:
-Give the EU a visit.
-Drive a race prepared car on some circuit for the experience.
-Attain a state of contentment/happiness that is not dependent on material needs or attachments.
-Learn to play the pianoforte or violin.
-Understand some law, finance, continuous (as opposed to discrete) mathematics, modern particle physics and biology.
-Get my own DSLR camera.
-Get my own car. Manual gearbox, of course.

Seven things I can do:
-Flying side-kicks, as in the profile picture.
-Write pointless narrations like the above.
-Sharpen knives to a very sharp edge, and then cut food really fast.
-Shift gears with a manual ‘box without using the clutch pedal. Left-foot-braking in an auto ‘box car. Double-clutch heel-and-toe with a manual ‘box.
-Mentally multiply a pair of 2-digit numbers using Karatsuba multiplication.
-Cook. Not terror, but so far no one has died as a direct consequence of eating my stuff, so I must be doing ok.

Seven celebrity crushes:
-I don’t really care for celebrities, so this will not be answered

Seven random facts about me:
-I’m a male.
-I like windy days, except when there’s dust in the air.
-I don’t really appreciate seafood.
-I started my first Taekwondo lesson on the 1st of April 1998.
-I have driven 52 cars in total, not counting those for driving lessons.
-I have been through infatuations with many side interests: philosophy and religions; astrophysics; relativistic and quantum physics; number theory; finance; political science. The current one is still mathematics, but neurobiology and muscular control might be creeping into the scene.
-I really can’t think of 7 items. Oh wait I have seven!

7 physical traits I look for in the opposite sex:
-Eyes, among other things.

7 current/recent books:
-Zero: the biography of a dangerous idea*
-Critical Mass*
-Cryptological Mathematics*
-Foundations of Neurobiology
-Cryptanalysis of Number Theoretic Ciphers
-Nineteen Eighty Four, George Orwell
-Prime Mover: a natural history of muscle

*strongly recommended

7 victims of mine:
-Pamela Michelle
-Michelle Chong
-David Chong
-David Teoh
see the connection?
-Yee Hou

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The power struggle

Lemma 1:
Fossil fuels are a finite resource.

Lemma 2:
The global population is consuming fossil fuels at a non-zero rate.

Fossil fuels will be exhausted.

The next cheap energy source is no longer found in breaking chemical bonds, but to annihilate matter itself. Nuclear fission is already used as a power generation method.

Unfortunately, nuclear power has irreversibly scarred huge tracts of the population through the actions of the United States in August 1945. Many vowed that nuclear power should never ever be used again. “Many” does not necessarily mean “all”, and the few power wielders decided that yes, nuclear power will continue to be in use. The thermonuclear bomb was thus developed.

The stigma associated with nuclear fission is so great that it is not uncommon for populations to object to nuclear research, even if for power generation. However, oddly enough, this stigma is sometimes severely minimised if nuclear research is conducted in one’s own country for use of peaceful power generation, and possibly for “protection of our way of life”.

To add more spice to the issue, the existing nuclear powers are doing their best to prevent other states from acquiring nuclear power. Not only are there efforts to actively deter nuclear pursuers from developing such “dangerous” technologies, but the dangers of nuclear power is continuously trumped up to convince the global population that countries developing nuclear technologies are a threat to global stability.

That fact that stability can be threatened implies that it is not stable, but simply meta-stable. In the current landscape, the nuclear powers are at the top. If the landscape changes and global politics enter a new meta-stable state, the current powers might no longer be at the top, hence their fear of change.

Interesting things will happen when fossil fuels are exhausted. With a large majority of the global population without access to mass-energy conversion technologies, nuclear states might hold large proportions of power, in both senses of the word.

The world is a bitch. We are little minions.
Life sucks.

Many of the statements made here are debatable issues in themselves. If you wish to, please criticise with rationality and minimal rudeness.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

At the top of the pecking order

Of late, I have seen a good many visitors dropping by via search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN Search. The search terms, and their frequencies:
Kongkek? Yes, I had a post that contained that word, but still, the abrupt influx was puzzling. A quick investigation on Google explained it all- my blog is in the first results page if you search “kongkek” in Google. A few days ago, I was in the third spot. Today, I’m at the top!

The top of the kongkek pile.

A public expression of thanks to Adrian for his curiosity and thus pointing out that I'm at the top spot today. If you are wondering why he was searching "kongkek" in Google, you would have to ask him.

Click here to search kongkek on Google.

*kongkek – Malay for intercourse/fornication.


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Whose house is it anyway?

My Living Room

Click here for large size image
Click here for Deviant Art entry

When I summon the numerous tentacles of my memory to reach into the deep past, the first house that I can remember is Number 42. A double storey link house built in a style so commonly found in the comparatively new areas of Petaling Jaya, it would be about 30 years old by now. Number 42, along with all other houses in the row, had magnificent white terrazzo tiles on the ground floor, large sliding glass doors opening to the north and well laid parquet strip flooring upstairs. Being built on a slight slope like many PJ homes, the dining area was separated from the living room with a small flight of steps.

Sometime in the mid-90’s, our neighbour decided to put his corner-lot house on the market at what was a substantially below-market price. My parents decided to buy the house, renovate it to our needs and move in, selling our existing dwelling at the end of the process.

The neighbours left Number 44 in a dismal state that bordered on the pitiful. The place smelled musty, dank and of decay. The terrazzo floor, so clean and white in Number 42, was marked with stains of all sorts, permeated with dirt and tinged an unfriendly hue of brown. Curtains which draped across the large glass doors looked unwashed for years, having been impregnated with a dusty and greasy colour. The floors were not cleaned in ages, as demonstrated by a thick layer of dust in corners where feet rarely approached. Most appalling of all were the kitchen and washroom facilities, not because of their absolute dirtiness, but because it was unconceivable that anyone would voluntarily live in such conditions. The entire house gave off a depressing impression of brownness- brown stains on the floor, brown marks on the walls, brown dust in the curtains, brown muck in the toilet and brown splatters in the kitchen sink.

The renovation involved complete replacement of tiles and parquet, repositioning of several walls, conjuring several extra square metres of floor space and installing new bathroom and kitchen fixtures. After some months of living next to this circus of hammering, drilling, sawing, chiselling and pounding, Number 44 was ready. We moved next door in 1997.


One Sunday morning in 1998 after Taekwondo training, I paid Yuan Harng a visit. His mother asked me where I lived, to which I replied SS6. Curious, she queried further about the subsections of SS6.

One thing led to another, and when it was revealed that my house was 44 on SS6B/9, she exclaimed that it was just next to their old house. “We stayed at number 42 before moving over to 44,” I told her.


22 years ago, when my parents were contemplating buying a house, they took a look at 42, SS6B/9 and found it to their liking. The then inhabitants were a family of 4, with a child between 3 and 4 years old, and another recently born baby no more than 5 months old. It turns out that the baby was Yuan Harng.

Spare Bedroom

Click here for large size image

This magnificent antique 4 poster-like double bed used to be my parents’ bed which they purchased from a junk store at a preposterously good price (it was in the low 2 digits). The only issue is its damn height.

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Monday, September 05, 2005

Who Am I? Why am I here? Where am I going?

Upcoming photo projects that need the attention of a digital camera:
Red chillies and white garlic.
Spring onions and ginger.
Some handmade biscuits from the market. They are dearly expensive, exquisitely delicious, and delicate to look at. Goes for a stunning rate of $25 per kilogram!
Whole coffee beans.
Flowers, while spring is around the corner.
Something vivid blue, but edible. Suggestions?
Something vivid purple, but edible. Suggestions?
Underwater shot of boiling water. This is the exciting one that will require a lot of set up work for the boiling apparatus and the camera housing. I’ll do this when I get back home to the Olympus C740 UZ.
Compile a series of edible colours spanning the visible spectra- hence the need for blue and purple objects.
Projected direction:
Steer away from doing only dazzlingly white backgrounds and harsh, high contrast shots. Attempt friendlier, warmer lighting colours with the biscuit and coffee bean shots.
Concentrate less on macro shots. They are nice, but the universe also contains objects that are larger than millimetre scaled, such as gorillas and quasars.
Attempt more non-studio photography outside of a bomb-proof, micromanaged environment.
Ultimate goal of The Ego:
Sell a non-zero quantity of photos for a realistic sum of money.
A more realistic goal for the Rational Mind:
Get my own digital camera.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Sunset in a Parallel Universe

This is a marvellous piece of equipment, the Olympus iS-1000.

Sunset in a Parallel Universe

Click here for large size image
Click here for Deviant Art entry

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Friday, September 02, 2005

Ahh! Ghosts in my CD box!

To cut a long, uninspiring story short, today I borrowed two audio-CDs today from the Melbourne City Library.

Opening the CD boxes had a strange effect of producing a slight sensation of nostalgia within me. Before jumping to the obvious conclusion that it MUST be due Johann Sebastian Bach’s spirit residing in the CD box (as if there was a lack of good CD boxes, and assuming that CD boxes are prime real estate in the afterlife), I thought over the problem.

Traditionally, CD boxes are made with 3 parts: the clear front cover, the black coloured inner lining where the CD sits, and the clear rear cover. Of late, it is becoming more common to see boxes made entirely out of clear plastic, and also slim boxes made of 2 pieces rather than 3. If you are in the habit of purchasing pirated intellectual property, you’ll see many of those fugly one-piece mouldings as well.

It turns out that the fleeting moment of nostalgia is most probably due to the black inner lining of the CD boxes. I haven’t seen those in a long while- most of my CDs are stored in a CD folder, and the few precious original discs have clear boxes.

Are CD boxes with black inner linings on the path to extinction?

Keep your old CD boxes. Your grandchildren will be impressed by the contrast between black surface and silver disc.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

I am getting senile

No updates today since I’m rushing to complete my Computational Mechanics assignment due in 13 hours at Friday noon.

However, this “no updates” declaration in itself is an update, so it seems that that it is a self-contradicting entry.

Another example of a self-contradictory statement would be the following:
This is not a sentence.

I think I am getting senile.