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.

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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”.

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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.

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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 »

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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.

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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
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18 Jan 08

Overflow

When a man is full, what can he do?

Burst.

—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.

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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 »

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14 Jan 08

10.0

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 »

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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?

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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. []
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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.

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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. []
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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 »

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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.

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