Today was my first time teaching a classroom of people how to use Photoshop, a popular image editing software created by Adobe. As simply as I could put it, it was an unforgettable and awesome experience.
A club which I have committed myself to as a sub-committee of the publicity and publication (PnP) department was conducting a Photoshop workshop this very evening. Notes were carefully crafted by the two superiors who I answer to and my job was simple - to teach a class of around twenty on the spot. No rehearsals, no presentations. Hands-on only.
The workshop was to start at 6.30 in the evening. However, very unfortunately the cables connecting the computers to the projector was throwing a hissy fit and we had to call in a technician to fix it while we waited anxiously.
I prayed that they would not get tired from all the waiting, as the technician made his furious shuttles between the office and our classroom. If they get fed up waiting, I guess that very much spells the demise of the workshop.
The class was awesome - most of them were either one year my junior or the same academic year as me, and a few seniors actually cleared their Friday evenings for this workshop. They were terribly cooperative throughout the workshop and some even pointed out shortcuts and tips that I have never noticed.
We had fun. I shared tips and tricks and many others chimed in to contribute. Everyone was very helpful to each other, before and throughout the workshop - from helping each other to install a copy of Photoshop in each other’s computer to pointing out craftily hidden or insanely small icons.
Of course I reaped a handful of benefits too - like being aware that sometimes I speak at the speed of a bullet train - and without pausing, throwing people into a vortex of confusion; and for being seen as having a little more humour that I ever thought I had (or the lack thereof).
Now that is what I call a win-win situation.
I felt that I have learned a lot more than what I have shared and taught today. To think that I have actually handled a class of twenty-odd people on my own (and with the help of others) definitely gave me a rush of a good ol’ load of endorphins.
Hey guys, Photoshop isn’t that hard afterall, right? :)
p/s: Thanks Mr Technician! I am pleasantly surprised that someone would still be hanging around in school even when (1) it’s Friday and (2) it’s way past normal working hours. You made my day, just like the others did.
The street is where I spent most of my years in Malaysia in. I lived there since I was three, up till twelve when I left for Singapore, and I never fail to seize the chance to travel home, despite the ardous five-hour journey, whenever there’s a long weekend or a short vacation.
Afterall, that is where I grew up with. I will leave my childhood tales revolving around my home for a later post when inspiration comes knocking, but today I have a short story to share, about my neighbourhood.
A few days ago, mom heard a truck rumbling by, screeching to a halt in front of the neighbour’s home to the left. Maybe they were getting new furniture or something again, she thought. Although not exactly falling into the group of I’m-so-rich-I-burn-money-to-stay-warm millionaires, the neighbour on the left were, without a single doubt, one of the better off families on our street.
Halina/Helina and her husband David, and her three kids Lionel, Shernice and Alicia weren’t very close to us. My brother claimed Lionel tricked him into trading in a few very rare Pokemon gaming cards in return for a few trashy cards for the receiving end. Haline/Helina constantly parked her car into our front gate, provoking the wraith of my dad.
A few sporadic spates between my dad and the parents next door didn’t do good to our ties. From the kids’ car pooling (Lionel and Shernice went to the same elementary school as us), to the painting of the new fence after renovation, I could barely say we were good neighbours. Sometimes I’d be glad that my parents weren’t bickering with them.
That’s the question my communications tutor posed during the morning session today. Although she wanted us to explain our feelings in a rather scientific context, she told us to imagine the situation first - and get in touch with our inner senses.
What would I feel if I enter an elevator full of strangers?
On campus I rarely travel by an elevator - for an unknown reason the architects of my university seemed to have a bad habit of placing elevators at the most inaccessible places. Elevators that transverse the height of the building block, I reckon, are at least 30m away from the main entrance and I would rather take the stairs instead.
During times when an elevator is absolutely necessary, like when climbing four flights of really long stairs (blame it on the insane ceiling heights) to my communications classroom, I would undoubtedly take the elevator, even when that means squeezing with a bunch of strangers.
At least, I convinced myself, it is a more pleasant experience than being canned in a subway train with your nose swimming in the sea of sweaty armpits.
Now what? I am standing in a car full of strangers. I start to comb through my previous experiences - I would take a deep breathe first, then slowly letting in some air just in case of a lingering, unpleasant odour in the elevator. I would ensure spatial efficiency by squeezing my body into a tiny corner. I would look at my own soles and not lift my head, avoid eye contact at all costs.
The guy sitting behind me piped up. I’d smile and offer then free food! He quipped. We bursted out in laughter.
My response will be totally different if I take the elevator with a group of friends - just like the one depicted in the photo above, taken during the orientation camp last year. I can vividly remember how my friends and I joked, punched, laughed, snickered, whacked each other during elevator rides. We would make so much noise that people waiting at the elevator outside would throw us a puzzled, lost look when the doors parted and a group of serious-looking undergraduates emerges from the elevator car :)
* * *
Afterall, my tutor explained, our culture is rather hostile towards strangers. We see them as impersonal objects that we want to do nothing with. Sometimes I feel very ashamed of myself when I see how foreigners greet strangers on the street - I remembered one fine morning when I was on board of a rather empty bus. The bus ground to a halt and a young caucasian, perhaps in his mid twenties, boarded. With a very cheerful voice, he greeted the bus captain and I looked up. He gave me that smile that I could never forget - a genuine, friendly smile that one rarely sees on the street of Singapore.
We are all too engrossed in our own lives that we forget to care about others, let alone strangers. A common scene on a busy pedestrian path in my country will be people zipping past each other, bags in tow and earphones plugged in. It feels like everyone is living in a bubble, a small little paradise that they have crafted out for themselves. On the outside, everyone remains in a detached silence, devoid of any social interactions of sort.
Perhaps, that’s the way of life here.
Oh, and since then, I always try to greet bus captains with a smile :) and any strangers who just happened to establish eye contact with me on the streets. It doesn’t hurt to smile, right?
Oh hello there! That’s me. The unconventional biologist-designer-blogger-writer-photographer hybrid. I scoffed at my choice of studying biological sciences for umpteen times since the very first day I stepped into university - why on earth, out of all courses, am I majoring in biological sciences? To complicate the current conflict, I am in the midst of considering for an internship with a design firm during the upcoming summer. A screw must be loose in me.
As the daily conflict wages on, I still adored studying for my major. Afterall, biology is the only science subject that I can do well in - it’s not that I have the luxury to scrutinize, pick and choose. I failed every single history assessments in my first two years. My physics were in shambles even when I graduated from a prestigious all-boys school. My mathematics, although improved by leaps and bounds, all thanks to one of the best college teachers I have ever met in my life, was no match at all. I simply pale in comparison.
Only in biology, I felt comfortable. There I went, following the blind faith of majoring in sciences will promise me a bright future while an arts major won’t do the equivalent, I cemented my fate as a laboratory assistant for, perhaps, half of my working life.
* * *
Yueqi dropped me a text message the night before, asking me how much do I charge for photography assignments. Very honestly I told her that I do charge for events and the hourly rate depends on what am I asked to cover for, but of course I’ll do friends’ birthdays for free. I remarked that I simply couldn’t bring myself to make a birthday boy/girl pay.
So I landed myself as one of her friend’s 21st birthday photographer. I was not interested in monetary compensation so her friend shall not worry about fees. I love covering birthdays, capturing fun-loving people and refining my skills at the same time. Since I have beefed up my gears in the past few months, I am confident that I can finally cover an event with at least some nice photos to show.
Melissa decided to give me a token of appreciation instead, and I had no qualms about that. To charge or not to charge is a very personal decision, and I don’t expect any photographers reading this to be convincing themselves that they should never charge for birthday parties.
Covering a birthday party also comes with a pre-emptive warning that there will most probably be no updates this Saturday - unless I manage to churn out an entry in a noisy, rowdy al-fresco eating area that night using that pathetic keyboards on my iPod - with the assumption that I can hook myself up to the nearest free wireless Internet connection.
I should have added a line going: “Your mama isn’t around so clean it up yourself.” That’ll be more like it - flinging insults at a person behind the safety veil of anonymousity without posing any risk to oneself, while injecting some (this is very subjective, I concede) humour in it.
Just in case you’re wondering, that message is directed to a subset of the toilet users on my floor who, peculiarly, don’t have any control over their pee. Droplets of their ammonia-laced slush goes everywhere.
* * *
Have you ever find yourself doing something like this before - a certain someone requests that you get something done. Of course you didn’t like it, but you fear authority and so in order to make sure that karma goes around and kick that certain someone in the butt, you intentionally delay it or screw it up beyond any possible redemption.
Doesn’t sabotage feel good? It’s another way to getting back at a person, albeit in an indirect way. There’s actually a term for that - psychologists call that passive aggressiveness (or passive-aggressive behavior).
If you have read, or watched, The Devil Wears Prada, do you recall that venom-tongued Emily, the first assistant working under Miranda Priestly, commandeering over poor newcomer Andrea Sachs as the second assistant? That is a perfect and classical example of passive aggressiveness. Emily constantly pokes fun at Andrea for being overloaded with irrational, mind-boggling and impossible tasks delivered from Miranda dearest, who was actually created by author Lauren Weisberger to poke fun at pro-fur Anna Wintour.
Here’s a good illustration of what is going on - sorry it looks kind of messy, I made it in 15 minutes when I woke up to do my toilet rounds at 2.30 in the morning.
I have been combing through the archives of PassiveAggressiveNotes.com and the notes were nothing but very, very good laughs, ranging from people complaining of spit in a dormitory toilet - I doubt it’s spit though - to someone spitting in his own bottle of salad dressing to discourage unauthorized consumption. It really gave me a hearty laugh and I couldn’t bring myself to leave for dinner even after hitting page 30 in their archives. It’s just too addictive - it feels like discovering another FailBlog/LOLcat equivalent all over again.
The photo is simply a placeholder image taken from my photo archive - it has absolutely nothing to do with what I am about to write.
My friends and I were on the bus today night, heading out for dinner before a new, dreadfully long week begins. The bus was rather crowded when we boarded, and the only seats available were right at the back of the bus. Bregitt picked the window seat while Rick was sandwiched between me and her. The bus ride, as I would usually expect, would simply be part of a non-descript moment in one’s daily life.
It turned out to be something a lot bigger than that.
A few silent minutes passed, the rumble of the bus engines piercing the cold air of the bus with a stinging smell of dusty seats and uncleaned windows. The bus gently braked at a bus stop, a few passengers alighted - one of which turned out to be a guy in his late twenties, dressed in a brown top with shorts that I could not recall is of what colour.
He made his way towards us as the bus lurched ahead in the darkness. He picked a seat beside a girl sitting on a window seat a row in front of Bregitt.
That’s unusual, I thought. Out of all the seats available on the bus, he consciously chose that one. Perhaps he simply enjoy the bumpiness at the rear of the bus. A handful of minutes into the ride, Rick nudged my shoulder.
He’s leaning over to the girl. And he’s stealing glances, too, he remarked. Bregitt peered over his shoulder looking at me, eyes fixated on mine. I was taken by surprise - given the fun-loving and rambunctious nature of Bregitt and Rick, they rarely shot me the this-is-very-serious look.
Worried, I started to observe very intently.
The bus approached a sharp bend at a junction, jerking everyone to the left. That guy in brown did exactly the opposite - he starting leaning more towards the girl, who was unfortunately seated on his right.
She noticed something was amiss, but brushed it off by simply readjusting her posture, aligning herself out of the way of the guy.
His body is already over on the girl’s seat, Bregitt whispered. Both the girl and the guy were having their earphones on, and I assumed that they weren’t eavesdropping on our conversation.
The bus charged ahead. Every turn and stop brought the guy closer to the girl, much to her discomfort and our worry. We were witnessing a guy taking advantage of a girl on a bus, and we weren’t going to let that continue.
At a busy stop, a couple of passengers alighted the bus, making doubly-empty seats available for taking. I leaned over Rick precariously and suggested that Bregitt inform her that she was being taken advantage of and therefore, should change seats. She gave a gentle tap on the girl’s shoulder. A short conversation ensued. The girl acknowledge the awkward situation and decided to change seats.
She stood up, crossing over the guy in brown into the aisle. She dropped her phone. Rick reminded her and the guy helped her to pick it up.
We were relieved. A few guys beside me, who also noticed the commotion, shot us the grateful look. Perhaps we were the closest to the girl and unless we did that, they would have to go drastic measures to get everyone’s attention about a potential molestation.
We left the bus near our dinner place. I hope the girl will be okay.
I apologize for the late update - Saturday ended later than I expected and I ended up dragging my lethargic body back to the dorm at one in the morning. I have got this post in draft but I didn’t get the chance to post it, so here it is, on driving.
Mom phoned me a few days ago, reminding me that it is the time of the year to renew my driving license. After scraping a pass in a driving test almost two years back (with a really fussy and uncaring examiner on board), I went on the road with the family car only once. Not even twice.
I dreaded the probational drivers’ license that I held - the Malaysian law mandates that all drivers of my kind to proudly display a big, fat, white ‘P’ against a burning, striking red background. Two of them should be on the car at all times when such a driver is on board - one for the front and one for the back.
Just like hungry, crazed wolves, Malaysian drivers preyed on cars driven by little white bunnies like us. They would seize the chance to merge into your lane with little care of your and their safety; to jump out of the car and pounce on you when you get involved in an accident with them; to wave their finger - well, the middle one - at you at their slightest displeasure; and the list goes on.
Sorry for the over-generalization, but as far as my fellow ‘P’ drivers and I am concerned, this is the two-year ordeal that we have to go through.
Therefore, no prize for guessing who has not been driving his family car for the past two years, much to the annoyance of my parents.
Of course, I would love to drive, but let’s say that I would very much prefer the option to be open when my prohibition license expires this March.
After spending four hours working my CSS and XHTML magic, I’m proud to present the new layout for Soliloguy. It’s actually a heavily modified version of the original Colour Shades theme, with a touch of my current site design at teddy-risation™. The typography has been modified slightly for presentation reasons, so as the colours. I ditched the tiered colour functionality because I wanted a uniform blue. Boring, maybe, but I prefer uniformity.
I wrote a short entry on why I started this Tumblelog on my main blog. It was partially motivated to convince myself that it will spell the demise of my main site - hopefully so. After reading the comments left by several friends, I felt a lot relieved.
In case you’re wondering how did I manage to figure out Tumblr’s API, here is a link to a very handy resource - Creating a custom HTML theme.
This will be a rather short entry before the weekend. Let’s see what I’ll be discovering tomorrow!
In the name of science and with great sadness, we sacrificed an albino lab mice during immunology lab today.
They call it consequentialism - in layman’s terms, the end justifies the mean. With the unfortunate scarification and the subsequent dissection of one mice, our tutor taught twenty odd of us how one is carried out. At least, we didn’t have to kill one each. It would have broken my heart.
And I know, I’m majoring in biological sciences. Breeding, growing, manipulating and killing of animals are something that we cannot avoid and most probably something that our rice bowls will depend on in the future. Animal experimentation with lab mice is not regulated under normal conventions but I am relieved to learn that our tutors, lecturers and lab assistants alike could not place more emphasis on ethical treatment of animals, even under clinical and laboratory settings.
* * *
As we were incubating our mixtures, the tutor ushered us to his table. Sitting on the table beside him was a styrofoam box with four live lab mice inside it, blithely unaware of the terrible fate that awaits them.
We have four concurrent laboratory sessions today, so all of them are going to be sacrificed, a friend noted.
I was in the midst of my daily ritual of cleaning my retainers in the communal restroom when I was hit by a sharp, pungent, putrid smell.
Perhaps it was my tongue acting up again, I thought. I half-heartedly scrapped my tongue and took a breath-odor test. The smell lingered.
Now what on earth did I have yesterday night?! I quickly combed through my memories of the night before and clearly remembered watching Bridget Jones’ Diary at one in the morning before passing out on the bed, barely bringing myself together to answer a friend’s query on a specific classroom’s location. Not that I could remember I consumed any heavily sugary food or beverage, or uncooked meat of any kind - I did come to an epiphany a few years back that having sashimi without brushing your teeth will transform one into the best human repellent the day after.
Back in my room I took twice the daily dosage of the oral disinfectant and thought it will be the end of the story. Not.
Entering the restroom again, this time for a quick morning shower before I turn up late for my first commucations module tutorial, the smell was there again. Now it was all over the restroom, and I was pretty much convinced that it wasn’t me.
I headed for my favourite shower stall, only to be deeply shocked by the scene that greeted me. Someone apparently discharged his entire bowel’s content all over the floor of the cubicle opposite. That unmistakable brown, gooey slick covering the floor, dripping fresh from the seat cover and some even ended up on the wall.
The coverage was so huge that the person couldn’t avoid stepping on some of it, leaving a trail of foul-smelling semi-solid excrement leading from the cubicle right up to the row of sinks.
Out of the many water closets in the bathroom, that nincompoop (pun intended) decided that picking the one right across my favourite shower stall is the best idea. Ever.
Even if he is in a desperate rush with the danger of a huge case of flatulence followed by explosive bowel discharge - he picked the second water closet from the door. Wow, he even had the time to decide.
In the middle of my bath, a female cleaning entered the bathroom and started screaming and cussing in a local dialect, of which content I feel inconvenient and awkward to reveal here. In the simplest linguistic term she meant <expletive> there’s <expletive> everywhere <expletive> <expletive> <expletive>. I can totally empathize with the cleaners who had to face this mess.
If you’re wondering, the photo is the exact same cubicle which was previously bathed in human grime - only that it’s taken 12 hours after the mess was discovered.
Today I had a really hard time dragging myself out of bed. I dread to rise early in the morning, even when the personal definition of early is that when the late morning sun is yet to heat the room up to unbearable levels. The humid weather of Singapore didn’t help to keep the morning heat out - it only made it worse.
A solid, nine hours of sleep did no justice to the sleepy-headed me. I have been trying hard not to touch the mass-marketing supplements mom bought me because I firmly, strongly, faithfully believe that they’re just a marketing scam and she’s just feeding unnecessary money into an insatiable black hole.
She didn’t budge. She got me even more.
As I alighted from the shuttle bus, greeting the late morning sun and bouncing my way into the lecture theatre, I knew deep inside that I dreaded Tuesdays because of the lectures.
But to think of a four-day week with only a three-hour laboratory session on Friday, I couldn’t help but put on a silly, blissful smile on my face because I know once Tuesday is over, half of my week is gone. Or at least, I have survived half of it and by the same logic, surviving the remaining half shouldn’t be too hard.
I finally got a new pair of earphones today. Being a nostalgic and sentimental person as I always am, I couldn’t resist the temptation of getting the exact same brand and model.
And guess what? I budged. I gave in and I got myself my broken, half-muted earphones an identical twin.
So that’s it, the entry for Tuesday. Let’s see what will pipe up in my mind tomorrow and I’ll commit myself to update again.
Whoops! I let out a muted scream when I was drying my laundry, my ears plugged into the imaginary world of lyrics and melodies. Apparently, I accidentally jolted the base of the earphone when I was sleeping over at the chalet the night before, and that spelled the demise of this little bugger.
The right channel went dead.
But it wasn’t the end of it. A few weeks before I nearly snapped the cable leading up to the left channel and now it’s copper innards are dangling precariously for their life, only to be protected by a self-improvised duct tape.
That’s the last straw. I’m getting a new one. Over the painfully torpid immunology lecture, Mingyun and I discussed about going out to the mall after school tomorrow to get her yoga mat and my new pair of earphones.