equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
31 Jul 05

New Computer '05

I finally got my com­puter, and have the week­end to spend set­ting every­thing up.

Let’s talk geek.

Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 (Dual-Core) 4400+

Thumbnail: Large CPU heatsink

The sex­i­est stock heatsink I’ve ever seen. Notice the dense fins, and the sym­met­ri­cal cop­per heat pipes. I didn’t dare take it off the cpu for a pic­ture. One time, after I pulled the heatsink off a P4, I noticed that the proces­sor was stuck to the bot­tom while the proces­sor lock was still in place. The ther­mal paste had caked and turned to glue. The edges of the cpu were chipped and a few pins were bent, but I care­fully put them back in place and it still worked.

This one is an AMD though. It’s clocked at 2.2 GHz, with two megs of level 2 cache (one per core). Even though it can almost be con­sid­ered unrea­son­ably expen­sive, I went with a dual-core proces­sor because I wanted some­thing that could han­dle both single-threaded and multi-threaded apps. All the reviews I read said that the Pentium Extreme Edition chips were slightly bet­ter for the lat­ter but much worse for the for­mer, so this marks my first foray into the use of an Advanced Micro Devices proces­sor, at work or at home.

Read the rest of this entry »

28 Jul 05

I Bought A New Computer

The last part came in from back order today and they’re run­ning the burn overnight, so it’ll be ready for me to pick up before the weekend.

It’s the most expen­sive sys­tem that I’ve ever bought, but also the most guilt-free. At home, I spend the major­ity of my time at the com­puter — I use it to write, manip­u­late pho­tos, ren­der video, play games, com­mu­ni­cate with friends, watch movies, lis­ten to music. I could sur­vive on my cur­rent sys­tem, but I could also take advan­tage of an even bet­ter setup.

Some of the parts may be a lit­tle exces­sive, but why not go all out? I only know a few peo­ple, such as Trolley, who could appre­ci­ate a top-of-the-line sys­tem in the same way. Ever since Intel announced their lineup of dual-core proces­sors in the first quar­ter, I’ve been sav­ing my money, keep­ing track of the parts I’ve wanted. By the time AMD announced their own dual-core archi­tec­ture, I had a com­plete list of com­po­nents for my dream sys­tem. Most stores couldn’t even get their hands on the chips, so for two months I would peri­od­i­cally check for avail­abil­ity. Eventually, I ended up going through a cor­po­rate con­tact, who has his own direct con­tact to AMD. To boot, he gave me a dis­count (rang­ing on 15%, which is insane, con­sid­er­ing the tiny mar­gin on com­puter sys­tems) since I’m a busi­ness client as well.

The kicker is that my work just hap­pens to need a com­puter capa­ble of han­dling some heavy graph­ics edit­ing. The com­puter most ade­quate to han­dle this usage is mine, since it’s also the fastest in the office, so I get to give up my already ade­quate sys­tem for a bet­ter one. I got approval to order the same sys­tem that I bought myself per­son­ally. The same sys­tem that I’ve been dream­ing of, plan­ning for, and drool­ing over since February.

26 Jul 05

The Next Level, Part 2

It’s get­ting eas­ier to write again. Ideas are com­ing a lit­tle more flu­idly, and aren’t quite as strain­ing to develop any­more. Perhaps there’s been an excess of inspi­ra­tion in the last while, from the music that keeps me mov­ing, to the peo­ple I inter­act with, to the tem­per­a­ture of the sea­son, to the words in the books that I’ve been read­ing with relish.

Life is a series of sen­sa­tions that gal­va­nize, encour­age, pro­voke, and teach.

I can never seem to get it all down.

24 Jul 05


Thumbnail: Kitchen gadgets
Thumbnail: Bowls and placemats
Thumbnail: Brushed aluminum goodies
Thumbnail: Clocks and vases
Thumbnail: Coloured glass
Thumbnail: Desk clocks
Thumbnail: Stir sticks
Thumbnail: Plants with lights
Thumbnail: Salt and pepper shakers
Thumbnail: Shower curtains
Thumbnail: Wall clocks

Every time I’m in there, I want to buy some­thing, any­thing. I want uneven, hand-made chop­sticks, and wine glass iden­ti­fiers. Transparent coast­ers that form designs when stacked. Milk frothers. Sushi rolling mats. Designer veg­etable brushes. Hand-crafted Italian mar­tini glasses. Retro wind-up desk toys.

Slave to the Ikea nest­ing instinct.

22 Jul 05

Christie Had A Speech Impediment

Her unwit­ting nick­name in high school was Fudd (as in Elmer), because her “r“s came out as baby­ish “w“s.

This was par­tially due to the fact that she would imi­tate her older brother in admi­ra­tion dur­ing child­hood, after he devel­oped his own imped­i­ment from an oro­fa­cial sports injury. The other, and much more severe, aspect of her imped­i­ment was a ran­dom and sud­den inabil­ity to speak. No stut­ter, no slur.

As her speech ther­a­pist explained, it was a short-circuit in the brain, caus­ing her to believe that a sen­tence was fin­ished when she was only half-way through say­ing it. The only prob­lem was that she would get stuck on a word. On good days she sim­ply couldn’t repeat it, on bad days she couldn’t speak at all. Most peo­ple thought it was brought on by a rather trau­matic series of events brought on by her sup­posed friends in high school. The was­cals.

I always found it endear­ing, but she never cared for it. One of the tricks she used to get by was to take her time in say­ing a word. E-nun-ci-ate. It was like mas­sag­ing the ten­sion from a mus­cle, and slowly, she would be able to speak again. Another trick was to imag­ine being in a com­fort zone, which was her room, to relax when she was flustered.

I’ve always found that girls share some intrin­sic bond with their rooms. It’s almost as if they’re fol­low­ing an evo­lu­tion­ary nest­ing instinct, and their rooms become their homes. A place to grow and be safe. Along with the care­fully lined-up books and the ran­dom pieces of jew­ellery, the hid­den cache of pho­tos and the pur­pose­fully placed can­dles (some of which must never be lit), are the char­ac­ter­is­tic quirks.

Christie could never fall asleep if one of her dozen stuffed ani­mals were fac­ing her. Her bed­time rit­ual was to make sure that each one was turned away.

In time, Christie’s com­fort zone became the walk-in-closet of my room. She was old enough to make love, but simul­ta­ne­ously too young to stay overnight, so we would spend most of our time in there, the place where we could reach out and feel the walls around us, con­fined to the inti­macy of the enclo­sure. We spread out the blan­ket, lit the can­dles, and closed the door.

After a while, the humid­ity would build up, and this was no more appar­ent than in the win­ter when we would crack open the door and tan­gi­bly feel the chill on our skin. Opening the sun she called it, as the day­light sharply spilled on the blan­ket that cov­ered us. It was the only place where we could shut out the world, the only place that felt like night.

In a rela­tion­ship, shar­ing the night is more impor­tant than shar­ing flu­ids. Falling asleep with some­one is an accep­tance of trust, a way of say­ing that we’re com­fort­able enough to drift into our sub­con­scious minds. Perhaps it was the unavail­abil­ity of such a rit­ual that’s given the night so much significance.

Having no night of our own, we had to make due. I cov­ered one side of a card­board panel with glow-in-the-dark stars and sus­pended it from the top of the room. The panel was large enough to fill the vision, and in the dark­ness the closet became a micro­cosm of the starry sky. Even in the mid­dle of day it was near black­ness, and we’d lose track of time, hud­dled under the blan­kets with her sleep­ing at my chest, or lying there face-to-face, talk­ing while I ran my fin­gers through her hair. Sometimes, all we would do was get together and nap.

And even­tu­ally, Christie didn’t have much trou­ble speak­ing anymore.

20 Jul 05

Switching Books

Over the week­end, with the cozy com­fort of my duvet, I fin­ished read­ing the Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. The story took me by sur­prise. I had no prior knowl­edge of the plot, char­ac­ters, or themes, so I had the lux­ury of read­ing with­out the taint of another opin­ion. Even as a teenager, Duddy has the ambi­tion to pur­sue his dream of own­ing a huge plot of land before he’s even legally allowed to own it, but he loses his human­ity in the process. It was a fairly gal­va­niz­ing story, some­thing I’m not sure I could say if I knew more about the book before read­ing it. It’s his drive, his ini­tia­tive that I admire.

Yesterday, I started The Republic of Love (on the rec­om­men­da­tion of Karen) by Carol Shields. Even though I’m only through the first chap­ter, I can already tell that Shields knows what she’s talk­ing about. She knows how rela­tion­ships dis­in­te­grate, knows how peo­ple think, knows how our daily lives are a reflec­tion of the moods we have and mind­sets we wear. I’m reminded of Khalil Gibran, the Lebanese philoso­pher and author of The Prophet who wrote as if he under­stood love and the spirit on a com­pletely dif­fer­ent level. Even though he never met the love of his life face-to-face (they knew each other through pub­li­ca­tions), their col­lec­tion of love let­ters shows an under­stand­ing and har­mony deeper than any other two peo­ple I can think of.

It always makes me won­der: how much of an author’s writ­ing is from expe­ri­ence and how much is from imag­i­na­tion? The details, sub­tleties, thor­ough­ness of the char­ac­ters they develop, expressed in the inge­nu­ity of the words they use must be from more than mere under­stand­ing. Would Frost have been able to write his rural poetry with­out mov­ing to New Hampshire, spend­ing his time there as a cob­bler, farmer, and teacher? Would Irving have been able to write from the per­spec­tive of a teacher at Bishop Strachan, with­out first watch­ing the girls in their plaid skirts being picked up by their wealthy par­ents? Even in the pref­ace to A Hero Of Our Time, Lermontov admits, “oth­ers del­i­cately hinted that the author had drawn por­traits of him­self and his acquain­tances” and brushes this off as a “thread­bare wit­ti­cism”, but could he really have cre­ated such an amoral anti-hero with­out a lump of burn­ing indif­fer­ence in his chest?

19 Jul 05

With A More Pretentious Title Than Last?

The new Coheed And Cambria sin­gle (song starts play­ing after the Flash intro) com­pletely knocks me off my feet. I sus­pect that the new album will be darker, mood­ier, and even bet­ter pro­duced than their last. I’m not the only one who’s reminded of Kashmir by Led Zeppelin, with the chro­matic chord pro­gres­sion and orches­tral back­ing, but the sim­i­lar­i­ties end there.

Can’t wait until September.

18 Jul 05

Trinary Maturity: (In)Conclusion

I wasn’t plan­ning on writ­ing another part of this series until I asked John for his opin­ion. He was extremely hes­i­tant to com­mit but even­tu­ally opined, with earnest con­sid­er­a­tion of his words.

His most sig­nif­i­cant insight was that I may be hastily pass­ing judg­ment on some­thing that I’ve only begun to expe­ri­ence. “It’s time, not the aware­ness of our accom­plish­ments, that teaches us what’s sem­i­nal”, he put it. I find it dif­fi­cult to dis­agree. After all, I have no idea how impor­tant the last year will be. All I know is that it’s been impor­tant up until now.

I always trust what John says. Like a preacher, he speaks the truth. It’s good to have a friend who can keep me in check, who can give me some per­spec­tive. Perhaps I’ve been look­ing a lit­tle too hard for mean­ing. I want to believe that these things have changed me, made me a bet­ter person.

But only time will tell me for sure.

The Trinary Maturity Series

  1. Introduction
  2. The Job
  3. The Girlfriend
  4. The House
  5. (In)Conclusion
16 Jul 05

Summer Steak

Thumbnail: Summer steak

Nothing says sum­mer like a juicy, ten­der, melt-in-your-mouth steak. And to have a friend cook it for you?

Well that’s even better.

14 Jul 05


Megalomania is watch­ing a man with a brain in a jar court a woman who laughs like a mule, and believ­ing that it’s the story of one’s life. Weakness is los­ing a thought to a pretty face. Concupiscence is the inter­pre­ta­tion of awk­ward rough­hous­ing as a pre­lude to fuck­ing. Jealousy is won­der­ing why one never had the same oppor­tu­nity, and accep­tance is real­iz­ing that one did.

In the end, it’s not the sit­u­a­tions we relate to, it’s the hope­less­ness of being stuck with the deci­sions we make. Of being caught between the risk of set­tling, and the fear of not doing any better.

Happiness is free­dom from both.

13 Jul 05

Today I Hit The Snooze

I also dressed down, and stole a drink from work. Two of my best friends finally met each other. They got along famously, bet­ter than any of my other friends in the past. I sup­ported one on the biggest deci­sion of his life. The other told me that I had always been her hope­ful out of the round of inter­views for my job, over a chicken sand­wich and some onion rings. I learned the four Cs of dia­mond appraisal, and saw a car­bon spec through a loupe for the first time.

I met two cats; one rolled into my lap while play­ing Double Dash with the best kids in the world. A fam­ily inspired me, and I dared to dream of some day hav­ing my own.

12 Jul 05

Some Days...

Some days I wake up and I feel like I’m ready to con­quer the world. Other days I wake up and I’m too dif­fi­dent to even answer my phone at work or at home. Most days I’m stable.

09 Jul 05

HK Fullscreen, Revisited, Again

Here I am, try­ing to get another entry down, but there’s a movie play­ing on OMNI.2, one of Canada’s pre­mier multi-cultural chan­nels. Although the pro­gram­ming of OMNI.2 is aimed for 22 dif­fer­ent eth­no­cul­tural groups in 20 dif­fer­ent lan­guages, Saturday nights are always in Cantonese. Almost just as invari­able are the roman­tic come­dies of Hong Kong cin­ema that they broad­cast around this time.

It makes sense of course; stud­ies have shown that by 2017, vis­i­ble minori­ties will top 50% in Toronto and Vancouver, with Chinese peo­ple mak­ing up over 500,000 of that per­cent­age. Add to this the grow­ing fas­ci­na­tion of younger peo­ple with the Asian cul­ture, and recent flicks from Hong Kong are the per­fect way to build a strong mar­ket presence.

Unfortunately, the movies are mostly trite: a col­lec­tion of pre­dictable, sac­cha­rine love sto­ries with lit­tle artis­tic intent, and the one on now is no dif­fer­ent. I have to admit though, as sim­ple as these movies are, they still affect me. When I see the char­ac­ter­is­tic neon build­ing signs, homely food stalls filled with wok hey, and claus­tro­pho­bi­cally busy streets of Hong Kong again, I’m filled with a cer­tain inex­plic­a­ble romanticism.

And I can’t seem to get over it. All I want to do is go to Hong Kong again and share the expe­ri­ence with some­one. An expe­ri­ence that’s heart-racingly poignant, like the ado­les­cent mem­ory of a first date, when you’re build­ing up the courage to hold someone’s hand. Perhaps, like Humbert Humbert in Nabokov’s Lolita, the mem­ory of my child­hood has frozen some­thing in me. A mem­ory that’s beautiful.

Simply, purely, beautiful.

09 Jul 05

It's A Rainy, Overcast Saturday Morning

I’m only awake now because I’m too used to wak­ing up at half past six on work­days. A mug of Hong Kong milk tea (made with con­densed milk for extra creami­ness) has always been my week­end com­fort food, but I ran out of loose leaves a few weeks ago. Usually, I sit at my desk and write after break­fast, fin­ish­ing off the tea from break­fast, but instead I’ll be going to my music for inspiration.

I’ve run into a string of good music lately, or maybe I’ve just been hear­ing things in a dif­fer­ent way. None of my playlists seem rel­e­vant again. More details when I have more time.

It’s good to be sober.

07 Jul 05

Trinary Maturity: The House

In the last year of high school, I was called into the guid­ance office for some direc­tion in choos­ing a post-secondary insti­tu­tion. The coun­cilor, a very, very Caucasian man, went through the fea­tures of each uni­ver­sity, not­ing espe­cially the ones with nice cam­puses. In an effort to save his time, I explained that the esthet­ics of a uni­ver­sity were of no con­se­quence to me, because they wouldn’t affect my life. Apparently this was a dif­fer­ent approach from other stu­dents, whom he believed decided on the direc­tion of their edu­ca­tion through a desire for lush lawns and big dorm rooms.

I’d always believed that I’d feel the same way about a house as a cam­pus. Give me enough room for my com­puter with walls thick enough to crank my music and I’ll be happy, I used to say. While this may still hold true, I’ve dis­cov­ered that I’m even hap­pier with a nice place. I finally under­stood that coun­cilor, four years later, after chang­ing uni­ver­si­ties for a brief post-graduate stint. The new cam­pus was big, mod­ern, and inspir­ing; quite a dif­fer­ence from my pre­vi­ous uni­ver­sity with its brown build­ings and con­stant construction.

It’s the same when com­par­ing a rented place of res­i­dence and an actual house. A house begets secu­rity, and in turn, a sense of con­fi­dence. There’s a dis­tinct feel­ing, every day, wak­ing up in one’s own home. Knowing that every pay­cheque is going towards some equity, a lit­tle piece of prop­erty I call my own. Having a com­fort zone, a place that I don’t have to deal with any­one I don’t want to. A place where I make the rules, not hav­ing to answer to land­lords or security.

It was the process too, that helped me grow. Aside from the com­mon sense of own­ing a house as a long-term invest­ment, I was inspired (or should I say “dri­ven”) to move because of a room­mate. After one par­tic­u­larly child­ish con­flict, I decided more than four months before I actu­ally had time to look, to buy a house and take Trolley with me. We moved in before the lease was up on the apartment.

I went through the entire process myself, know­ing noth­ing at the start. I had never done any­thing on this scale before, and while it may seem triv­ial to those who have been ini­tia­tors their entire lives, this was a big step for me. It let me know that I could actu­ally accom­plish the things I want.

And that cast aside all the doubt that was hold­ing me back.

The Trinary Maturity Series

  1. Introduction
  2. The Job
  3. The Girlfriend
  4. The House
  5. (In)Conclusion