equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
24 Jan 07

The Cutest Thing

At the Tai Chi stu­dio, bath­rooms are shared with an account­ing office in the same building.

Yesterday I found out that the keys aren’t labeled “Men” and “Women”, they say Yin and Yang.

/
22 Jan 07

Connor, Warrior Fish

So I got a fish.

Thumbnail: Connor side-view

A Siamese fight­ing fish, or Betta, named Connor to be exact. I wanted some­thing lively in my room, since I spend so much time in it. When I went to the store with Pat and Jen, they noticed that one fish was con­stantly flar­ing and swim­ming in cir­cles, almost like he was pac­ing. The fish in the cup next to him (to keep them sep­a­rate or they fight to the death) kept set­ting him off, so nat­u­rally, he was the one. As a clown­tail vari­ant, his fins are extended long like a comb.

I also got some live plants with which came a tiny snail, so small that he was trans­par­ent at first. After a few weeks, he grew con­sid­er­ably big­ger, and sur­vived a cou­ple hours out of water while I was clean­ing out the tank. Bronwen named him Humphrey, but he has since died, found dried up at the top of the tank one morning.

Bettas are funny crea­tures. Supposedly, they have per­son­al­i­ties (for fish), but I can never tell with pets I can’t touch. Sure, he swims towards me every time I turns on the lights or enter the room, but for all I know he could think of me as food. I can only tell that he’s very aggres­sive, flar­ing out his body and swim­ming back and forth when­ever some­thing gets near enough. It’s like he’s a caged glad­i­a­tor, rest­less about his next bat­tle. Dolly likes to sit in my chair and watch him go.

Thumbnail: Connor flares
Thumbnail: Connor flares
Thumbnail: Connor macro
Thumbnail: Pale Connor

I named him Connor, after the immor­tal Connor MacLeod from Highlander, because THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE (Betta in a bowl at a time).

/
17 Jan 07

Kilted Groomsmen

You’re the per­fect woman.”

She real­izes this as she writes down my chest, waist, and hip size, then asks rhetor­i­cally, “What are the typ­i­cally ideal measurements?”.

Aaron and I could only look at each other, as we had no idea.

36–26–36.”

Wow, so you’re a really hot chick!”, says Aaron.

Hi-LAR-ious. Years of con­fi­dence I’ve gained, girl­friends con­vinc­ing me that I’m not too skinny, gone.

Reduced to a male fan­tasy, I’m my own dream girl.

And how much do you weigh?”

(Pause)…113″.

After he’s had a buf­fet”, Aaron adds. My friend the come­dian. To con­sole me, he says, “It’s okay. Remember, you’ll be paired up with Jenn in the party”.

My coun­ter­part. The tini­est girl I know.

Thumbnail: Aaron's wedding band

In the last few years I’ve been to wed­dings for other friends, but Aaron’s the first out of my core group to get mar­ried (although Pat got engaged before him). To pay trib­ute to his cul­ture, he wants the wed­ding to be a bit Scottish — some­thing his Popa is espe­cially pleased about.

As a grooms­man, I’ll be wear­ing a kilt. As a Chinese guy, I’ll be feel­ing a lit­tle out-of-place.

Thumbnail: Matching the sporran and kilt colours
Thumbnail: Comparing sporrans
Thumbnail: Ghillie Brogues
Thumbnail: Ghillie Brogues

He asked me to give him a hand in shop­ping for the regalia. What a cul­ture shock. Looking through cat­a­logues of claid­heamh, sporrans, Sgian Dubhs, Ghillies Brogues. I can’t even pro­nounce the names. My tongue wasn’t made for these kinds of inflections.

It’ll take you guys longer to get dressed than the bride”.

Before we leave I remem­ber to ask, “Can we go tra­di­tional?”, with Aaron adding, “My Popa would be pretty upset if we didn’t”.

Traditional. The euphemism for com­mando. The euphemism for bear-ass naked.

Don’t worry, every­thing is dry-cleaned”, say the woman reassuringly.

It’s only after we leave that I real­ize every­thing but the shirt is made of wool.

I’ll be scratch­ing my balls through the whole service.

/
15 Jan 07

The Bias of Insecurity

I like to think that humans are, in gen­eral, cere­bral beings, unaf­fected by bias or emotion.

But every time I’m met with a bigot, who has noth­ing to cling to but the strength of their opin­ions, I lose this hope.

The more they speak, the more they prove them­selves as inca­pable of accept­ing any­thing but their own beliefs. Added to this is a lack of self-awareness, caus­ing them believe that they’re not closed-minded, they’re just right.

Often it betrays an inse­cu­rity. You can tell that under­neath their words, they har­bour a sub­con­scious feel­ing that they’re wrong. To make up for this, they express them­selves strongly enough to con­vince them­selves that they’re right.

As log­i­cally as you explain things, step-by-step, premise to con­clu­sion, they won’t under­stand. They’ll never be able to accept the truth, and remain com­pletely ignorant.

It’s impos­si­ble to have a dis­cus­sion with some­one like this.

The dis­cus­sion is super­fi­cial, and the issue lies within the per­son themselves.

/
05 Jan 07

9rules

I gen­er­ally don’t like blog net­works. Too often they’re super­fi­cial, cheaply con­structed com­mu­ni­ties used by the cre­ators to give them­selves a sense of belong­ing and pur­pose in the blo­gos­phere. Some of the most promi­nent exam­ples of this are on Livejournal, where any­one will cre­ate a clique if they’re an emo kid, a self-proclaimed “hot mom”, or even hap­pen to hate Rachael Ray.

There was only one com­mu­nity that caught my eye in the four years I’ve been blog­ging. Several pro­lific sites I fre­quent, such as graph­ic­Push, Snook, 456 Berea Street, and even Lorelle fea­ture a small leaf on their site. I had to learn more about this lit­tle uni­ver­sal logo that was on many of the sites that inspired me, and the net­work called 9rules.

9rules logo

I dis­cov­ered that they’re the only com­mu­nity with a phi­los­o­phy and qual­ity with which I agreed. As on their web­site, “9rules is a com­mu­nity of the best weblogs in the world on a vari­ety of top­ics. We started 9rules to give pas­sion­ate writ­ers more expo­sure and to help read­ers find great blogs on their favorite sub­jects. It’s dif­fi­cult to find sites worth return­ing to, so 9rules brings together the very best of the inde­pen­dent web all under one roof.”

Their phi­los­o­phy is based on a set of nine rules to live by:

  1. Love what you do.
  2. Never stop learning.
  3. Form works with function.
  4. Simple is beautiful.
  5. Work hard, play hard.
  6. You get what you pay for.
  7. When you talk, we listen.
  8. Must con­stantly improve.
  9. Respect your inspiration.

Although I can say that I agree and fol­low every sin­gle one of them, num­ber eight par­tic­u­larly res­onated with me. It’s one of my rea­sons for liv­ing, and par­tially why I started blog­ging in the first place.

For once, I felt com­pelled to join a community.

Becoming a mem­ber, how­ever, isn’t a sim­ple task. Every few months, they open a 24 hour win­dow for peo­ple to sub­mit their blogs. 9rules doesn’t have a spe­cific cri­te­ria for what to accept. Sites are judged on con­sis­tency and qual­ity of mate­r­ial, as well the pas­sion for the sub­jects being blogged.

The com­mu­nity lead­ers go through every site together, often sev­eral times, before decid­ing whether to let some­one join. They also main­tain an exclu­siv­ity clause; mem­bers aren’t allowed to be part of any other com­mu­nity. There was even a purge once, to clean the net­work of any sites whose qual­ity had dropped.

In the past, the accep­tance rates have been between 8–16%. The most recent round (the fifth) was last October, with 1190 blogs being sub­mit­ted. At the end of this round, the num­ber of accepted mem­bers stands at a ten­ta­tive 134.

Two weeks ago, I found out that I’m one of them.

/
01 Jan 07

New Year's '07

Thumbnail: Roast beef
Pat and Jen overfeed us.
Playing Tetris on the DS
Playing Dutch Blitz

Christmas is for fam­i­lies, but New Year’s is for friends. I couldn’t decide between Pat and Jen’s or Aaron and Karen’s this year, so I went to both.

Pat and Jen had me over for din­ner first. I met Sophia for the first time, which was a good way to put a face to the per­son who Jen talks about all the time. It was a great change to be hang­ing out with peo­ple who didn’t mind play­ing con­sole and hand-held games at a New Year’s party. Usually I’m the geek who wants to play games, and most peo­ple are uninterested.

Thumbnail: Poker game
Thumbnail: Rob
Thumbnail: Mel
Thumbnail: Alcohol
Thumbnail: Sarah and Cris
Thumbnail: Brother Mike
Thumbnail: Karen
Thumbnail: Cristina
Thumbnail: Rob humps Mel

I headed to Aaron and Karen’s after a cou­ple hours. They’re only a block away from each other, so it was an easy walk. It was the usual Trivial Pursuit (guys won), poker, and gen­eral row­di­ness. A few peo­ple crashed so they could drink, and the party went into the next day with some early morn­ing Wii.

Mel gave me an invi­ta­tion card to their wed­ding in March, and Rob extended the annual Super Bowl party invi­ta­tion. It was a nice ges­ture, because I don’t know Rob and Mel as much as I’d like. I think I’m given that respect by asso­ci­a­tion with Aaron. I hope Rob knows that it goes both ways; a brother of Aaron’s is a brother of mine.


When I’m host­ing a party, I can see Pat study­ing the other guests. It’s in his nature to be aware of his sur­round­ings, and he always tells me that there are inter­est­ing char­ac­ters. This time it was my turn to observe, and there were plenty of char­ac­ters at both places.

I sug­gested that both cou­ples com­bine par­ties for next year, but I’m not sure if the peo­ple would mix.

Thumbnail: Cristina swings
Thumbnail: Pat swings
Thumbnail: Sarah swings
Thumbnail: Aaron bowls
Thumbnail: Cristina and Aaron

I also had a chance to try the Wii. Admittedly, the inno­va­tion impressed me. Gameplay can be fun for casual and sea­soned gamers alike.

And peo­ple have the fun­ni­est faces when they’re swing­ing that con­troller around.

/