equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
31 Jan 08

Featured at Perishable Press

10.0 is cur­rently being fea­tured at Perishable Press, the first in a series of arti­cles explor­ing min­i­mal­ism in mod­ern web design. From the article:

Equivocality’s new min­i­mal­ist design is very impres­sive. The site appears clean, bright and refresh­ing and nav­i­gates with nat­ural sim­plic­ity. Jeff has elim­i­nated clut­ter to focus on con­tent, which is strongly uni­fied within the site’s sharp, spa­cious design. Attentive vis­i­tors will revel in the site’s exquis­itely restrained details, such as the sub­tle tex­ture pro­vided by the bleached back­ground grid, or the dynamic inter­play between com­ple­men­tary type­faces, Arial and Avenir. Overall, the design’s the­matic neu­tral­ity and uni­ver­sal approach inspire vis­i­tors to relax, focus, and enjoy.

In addi­tion to a detailed site review, Jeff Starr did a mini inter­view with me. I’ve come across Perishable Press sev­eral times through my WordPress wan­der­ings and it was great to work with some­one I’ve always known but never met.

28 Jan 08

Waxing John

The rite of pas­sage for the males of our gen­er­a­tion — the gen­er­a­tion of the met­ro­sex­ual and hair­less porn­star — is get­ting waxed. As an act of true love for Sheila in endur­ing the pain, John asked me if I would clean up the hair on his back and arms. I agreed, as long as I could film it.

Waxing John from Jeff Ngan on Vimeo.

I sup­pose that near the end of the video my sadis­tic side comes out when I start to laugh, or dare I say, enjoy hear­ing him scream.

This is like true friend­ship”, he says, “Waxing your best friends back when you’ve got a Y-chromosome”.

27 Jan 08

An Unspoken Bond

I met her a few times. She was nice. Quiet. I was one of the more junior stu­dents and she would occa­sion­ally give me words of encouragement.

But what endeared her to me was the way she inter­acted with him. A com­fort­able famil­iar­ity, an unspo­ken bond they never overtly dis­played in pub­lic but kept hid­den between them, a secret they shared as if to reveal it was to spoil it.

Sometimes, they’d talk about their kids. They were get­ting older. Getting mar­ried. Moving out.

When they found the can­cer in her body, he sus­pended classes imme­di­ately. He told us we could find new teach­ers with his bless­ing. I looked up their address and sent a bas­ket filled with pâté and dip­ping oils. That was over a year ago.

They buried her last Wednesday.

And as much as I’d like to do some­thing, any­thing to make him feel bet­ter — offer my con­do­lences, tell him he has an ear — there isn’t any­thing I can do. Nothing will make up for his loss.

Our bond will remain unspo­ken too.

25 Jan 08

Portraits of Tiana

Tiana smiles

If you gave me the hypo­thet­i­cal option of pho­tograph­ing any­one I wanted, I’d ask if it could be some­one who had already passed away. If so, I’d choose a Byronic hero like Mikhail Lermontov, or another one of the 19th cen­tury Russian Romantics, or even Lord Byron himself.

If I could choose some­one liv­ing though, I’d choose Tiana.

Read the rest of this entry »

22 Jan 08

This Is Not A Cry For Help

I have sui­ci­dal thoughts every now and then.

They don’t nec­es­sar­ily come out dur­ing bad times. It’s rather ran­dom. And it’s not like these thoughts involve plan­ing how I’m going to do it, I just think of how much sim­pler things would be if I weren’t liv­ing. A line from Being John Malkovich comes to mind:

[Consciousness] is a ter­ri­ble curse. I think. I feel. I suffer.

I think the root of my “suf­fer­ing” is the anx­i­ety I har­bour. Anxiety about social sit­u­a­tions, the state of the world, and other triv­ial details that make life seem com­pli­cated. I don’t want to have these thoughts, but I do. Then life gets even more com­pli­cated, and I get more anx­i­ety. It’s a vicious cir­cle, until it becomes not about the anx­i­ety itself, but anx­i­ety about hav­ing anx­i­ety. I didn’t really iden­tify it until I was in the car with Julie, feel­ing sick and sicker until I almost asked her to pull over on the highway.

All I want to do is stop think­ing. Suicide would be such an easy solu­tion, and as much as I dis­agree with the rea­sons for sui­cide in the first place, I hon­estly believe this is true.

It makes me scared that one day I’m going to make a stu­pid mis­take with a per­ma­nent consequence.

I know I have a good life, I know how illog­i­cal these thoughts are, but that doesn’t stop them from reoc­cur­ring on a monthly basis. I remem­ber hav­ing these thoughts as early as high school, although they were much more com­mon back then.

More fre­quently, I have thoughts of muti­la­tion, about once a week. Not self-mutilation, because there’s never any­one specif­i­cally doing it to me. It’s just me in black­ness, then a float­ing knife fly­ing into my wind­pipe, or an axe split­ting my head down the mid­dle, or an ice-pick in the back of the neck, or…well, you get the idea.

I’ve never told any­one about this. Not because I’m ashamed of it, but because I didn’t want any­one to worry. Not even my clos­est friends know.

But har­bour­ing this fear and anx­i­ety, I’m slowly real­iz­ing, is dif­fi­cult. It’s pre­vent­ing me from enjoy­ing life. I’ve decided to get some help; my first appoint­ment is in three days.

I’m tired of liv­ing with this.

20 Jan 08

Krista and Shane at Irene's

Flyer for the show at Irene's Pub

I asked Julie to come to the show with me. I did it with trep­i­da­tion, because I con­sid­ered it a big favour, and felt like I didn’t know her well enough to ask. But Blake was out of town and she was going out on Saturday, so it just hap­pened that she decided to keep her Friday free.

It pretty much saved me. When dri­ving to the pub, I was hit with an anx­i­ety attack, which I’ll elab­o­rate on in another entry someday.

Julie was the per­fect per­son to bring, I imag­ine because she has expe­ri­ence with peo­ple who suf­fer from anx­i­ety. I told her I may sud­denly want to leave at any point, pos­si­bly even on the way there. She told me she didn’t mind com­ing, she didn’t mind leav­ing, she didn’t even mind stand­ing out­side the pub with me for a cou­ple min­utes in –16°C weather while I men­tally pre­pared myself. I owe her big time.

Me and Julie

We played cards to get my mind off the anx­i­ety. I taught her how to play Slapjack, she taught me how to play Egyptian War. It worked.

While wait­ing for the show to start, I gave Krista the large prints from the pre­vi­ous shows. Krista gave us some ran­dom Larry and Bob bal­loon stick­ers she found on the bus (Julie and I think they were from a deaf per­son). Julie also met Cory there, her school­mate from hor­ti­cul­ture col­lege, and Krista’s sister.

At the first show, I told Shane he should make an acoustic ver­sion of his album. Since I paid him in per­son for a pre-release EP that night, he told me he did have an acoustic ver­sion and promised to give it to me. I asked him ear­lier this week if he could bring it, which he did, but he for­got it in his suit­case. Quite a pity, since he told me he was in the stu­dio mak­ing sure he mixed it right for me. He felt ter­ri­ble about it, and told me he’d mail it to me instead. March 14th is when the album offi­cially comes out.

The sets were rather short. Shanker and Romps opened for them, a garage rock­a­billy duo. Our view of this per­for­mance was a bunch of peo­ple who were much taller than ourselves.

The high­light of the show was see­ing Shane per­form It’s A Drag (and get­ting a video of it!), my favourite song on the album. Krista did the backup vocals. This is the only time you’ll hear such a dul­cet har­mony from another awe­some artist, cer­tainly some­thing you can only expe­ri­ence from a tour. Krista also got Cory up on stage for the Bumblebee Song as an encore.

Julie asked me if I still had a crush on Krista. I had to think about it for a lit­tle bit, and the fact that I had to think about it made me real­ize that I don’t anymore.

Other shows with Krista Muir and Shane Watt

  1. At the Workshop Studio & Boutique
  2. At Le Petit Salon des Arts
  3. At Irene’s Pub
18 Jan 08


When a man is full, what can he do?


—Zorba, the Greek

Or in my case, overflow.

I started cry­ing in class. Thankfully, no one noticed. People can get awk­ward around a crier. Unfortunately, sup­press­ing a good cry is as unsat­is­fy­ing as sti­fling a sneeze.

A lot of peo­ple hav­ing been say­ing the wrong things to me lately. On top of that, the abun­dance of inter­ac­tion I have with peo­ple — a side-effect of my projects — is leav­ing me drained and overstimulated.

Sometimes I won­der if it’s in my nature to be emo­tional. That try­ing to change this is like try­ing to teach a bird not to sing.

I don’t even have time to deal with this. I have to put it all aside, because there are more impor­tant things to think about right now.

At the bus stop, I real­ized that I have a ten­dency to brood. I don’t lis­ten to happy songs to get me out of the mood. It’s all minor keys and lemon peels, so I can help it run its course.

It’s been a rough week.

Sometimes, a part of myself spills out.

16 Jan 08

Photo Daze

I can’t believe it’s only Wednesday. The week is pass­ing by at a snail’s pace. I’ve been over­whelm­ingly busy and exhausted.

So far, I have 11+ gigs and 1650+ pho­tos on my hard drive for the expo­si­tion alone. I’ll be using about ten of them. As the show is about a month away, I’m try­ing to wrap up the pho­tog­ra­phy by next week. That should give me enough time to work with the pho­tos, then get them printed and framed before they’re hung in the gallery.

The rest of this week’s sched­ule is as follows.

And some mis­cel­la­neous pic­tures I’ve taken in the last lit­tle while that I never had the time to post.

Dolly on the shag carpet.

Read the rest of this entry »

14 Jan 08


Version 10 has been retired here.

Design break­down and inter­view about this ver­sion at Perishable Press, on the Minimalist Web Design Showcase.

Introducing the tenth ver­sion of equivocality.com.

Surgical Style

When approach­ing 10.0, I knew I wanted a note­book feel, so I used a grid back­ground to give the hint of paper. The idea was min­i­mal­ism. Single col­umn, no more icons, and super stripped-down meta data.

It’s still based on the good old 480 pixel-wide col­umn, although it’s bro­ken down into a grid with two main columns, which is used for the footer and other vary­ing pages. The dates on the left side are bul­lets that break out of the grid to help visu­ally sep­a­rate entries, and for a bit of style. Otherwise, it can be a lit­tle boring.

Read the rest of this entry »

13 Jan 08

Lost Girl

Lost girl in a coffee house - head down.

I saw her there again. She was sit­ting in a cor­ner of the cof­fee shop, head on the table. Last time she was still car­ry­ing her gro­cery bags. This time, there were no bags, no Dora The Explorer hat. Only a thin, hooded win­ter coat, and salt creep­ing up to the shins of her sweat pants.

Lost girl in a coffee house - head up.

Occasionally, she would prop her head up, as if to reori­ent her­self to her sur­round­ings, and her mat­ted hair would fall about her face. She never seemed to notice. She was gone again.

But was she lost to the world, or was the world lost to her?

11 Jan 08

A Pat On The Back

It was one of those days at work. Things weren’t exactly going wrong per se, but it was stress­ful enough as it was. People were all over me, want­ing this or that, under­min­ing my deci­sions, inter­rupt­ing my con­ver­sa­tions, run­ning around like their heads were cut off.

I kept remind­ing myself to breathe deeply (from the feet, as the Taoist sages are often described as doing) and calmly, kept think­ing about the word tat­tooed on my wrist, and it worked for a while.

By 3:15, I had to get out of the build­ing. It was sup­posed to be a three-song walk, but it ended up being nine. I didn’t even bring my coat; I was burn­ing so much inside, that I didn’t need it. The win­ter slushed creeped up my jeans by six inches, but thank­fully no one noticed.

Tyler was leav­ing as I was step­ping back into the office. He invited me to an art show at Bablyon tomor­row1. I told him that I’d think about it, know­ing in my head that I wouldn’t go.

I had to stay late to work on the server. Fifteen min­utes later, Tyler walked into my office (he must have walked part way, then turned around) and asked if I was alright. Admittedly, I’ve never been able to hide my moods very well, but I thought I was doing a decent job of it2. He told me he could feel that my energy was low, so he asked if I wanted a hug. I politely declined, not because I didn’t appre­ci­ate the ges­ture, but because I didn’t think it would have helped. He gave me a firm pat on the back any­way and stepped out of my office.

And it helped more than I ever would have expected.

  1. Which is strange, because the last thing I went to see at Babylon was a Dwarves con­cert []
  2. Something of an old habit of mine. Not being able to hide my moods is often a bless­ing in dis­guise for me, because it com­mu­ni­cates to peo­ple that some­thing is wrong. Otherwise, they’d never know, and it would never be fixed. []
09 Jan 08

Moleskine Cahiers

I’ve offi­cially retired my old note­book, the one I’ve been using since 1999. Starting in my first year of uni­ver­sity, it went every­where with me. Long trips, short trips, camp­ing, in the bath, you name it. I even included it on my list of what I was bring­ing to Hong Kong. It’s filled with so much ran­dom­ness: doo­dles, code, thoughts, quotes, lyrics, bad poetry (my own, of course), lists, ideas. One day, I’ll scan them in and doc­u­ment them.

But alas, it’s full.

Moleskine cahier

As a replace­ment, I bought a set of three Moleskine Cahiers. They’re thin­ner and lighter, which is exactly what I’m look­ing for; it took me over eight years to fill my last one, and I didn’t need some­thing that would last that long.

I do have sev­eral pocket size Moleskine note­books scat­tered around the house and in var­i­ous bags for use in sit­u­a­tions such as rid­ing the bus, but those are rather dif­fi­cult to write in unless sit­ting at a desk due to their small size.

These cahiers are a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. From the insert:

THE MOLESKINE CAHIERS are jour­nals with heavy-duty card­board cover, in black and buff with vis­i­ble stitch­ing on the spine. The last 16 sheets are detach­able and there is a wide pocket for loose notes.

The pages have a delight­fully smooth feel to them, and absorb ink with­out bleed­ing. I’ll be keep­ing one in my back­pack, one in my shoul­der bag, and one in my cam­era bag. I need them now more than ever.

There’s so much to write and so lit­tle time.

08 Jan 08

The Ardent Friends

Sometimes, all I need is a friend to sup­port me.

Even the times when I know I’m stu­pid or illog­i­cal. Especially those times, I just want some­one to lis­ten and agree.

I remem­ber Aaron going through a rough patch a cou­ple years ago. He told me he couldn’t let Rob know, because Rob would have jumped in his car and busted open some heads. Aaron con­fided in me because he needed an objec­tive opin­ion to work through the sit­u­a­tion, whereas Rob may have hurt more than help.

Even though I agreed, I felt like Rob’s ardent per­son­al­ity was a sign of true broth­er­hood. It doesn’t mat­ter what the logic is, it doesn’t mat­ter what the rea­sons are, your ene­mies are his ene­mies. It’s almost like he’s blinded by his love.

And as much as there are times when Aaron doesn’t tell Rob some­thing, I’m sure there are times when doesn’t tell me things either because he needs an fer­vent friend. He needs some­one who will take his side no mat­ter what. I know I do.

Don’t get me wrong; I have plenty of friends I can go to for an hon­est opin­ion. In fact, I go to them more often than not. John’s always there to con­tra­dict me and keep me in check, Pat’s there to ratio­nal­ize the sit­u­a­tion, and Aaron’s there to help me find a solu­tion. But every now and then, the uncon­di­tional sup­port of an ardent friend gives me strength and courage more than any­thing else.

Everyone should have such secu­rity. To be able to call some­one at any time of day who’ll be there in a heart­beat1. Everyone should have a friend like Rob in their lives.

The ardent friends are just as impor­tant as the objec­tive ones.

  1. Of course, you have to earn that kind of respect from Rob, because he doesn’t give it to just any­one. []
07 Jan 08

Portraits of Tyler

Tyler side portrait

The last time I took pic­tures of Tyler was at the bike park. He looks very dif­fer­ent with­out his beard. I pre­fer with than with­out; it adds so much more personality.

Included is one for my body shot series.

Read the rest of this entry »

06 Jan 08

The Honeymoon Is Over

Angel I can see myself in your eyes
Angel won’t you feel for me from your heart
Do return my heart to me
No don’t insist I’m already hurt

— Blonde Redhead, Elephant Woman

Yep. It’s over. Although she still doesn’t know.

Maybe it was just a phase. Maybe I’ve accepted the fact that she’s taken. Maybe we’re too sim­i­lar. Maybe I’ve real­ized it would never work. Maybe I just love her less, the more I know her.

Or maybe it was just a phase. One of the many things cured by time.

It makes me won­der if I cling to such feel­ings sim­ply because I love being in love, unre­quited or oth­er­wise. It’s like when you’re in a purely phys­i­cal rela­tion­ship with some­one, and you start get­ting feel­ings for them. You won­der if you’re really in love with the per­son, or in love with the idea that you have some­one with whom to go to bed, some­one to kiss and kiss you back. It’s a blurry line, some­thing you don’t fig­ure out until you remove your­self from the situation.

Not that it mat­ters. I’m over her.

And I’ve lost my inspiration.