equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
16 Feb 09

Father-Son Bonding

I called my dad on his birth­day this week. After the divorce I would never call him, spe­cial occa­sion or not, sim­ply because I needed to dis­tance myself from the sit­u­a­tion. He did call me on mine last year though, which reestab­lishes a sort of prece­dence and rit­ual, and he actu­ally thanked me for the call.

We made the usual small talk, about work and home.

Mercedes Benz SLK 55 AMG 2006

He told me he bought a car: a 2006 Mercedes Benz SLK 55 AMG hard-top con­vert­ible with 18″ rims and 7-speed-automatic trans­mis­sion. He’s going to keep the Beemer for win­ter dri­ving. It filled my heart with quiet joy when he said I could drive it the next time I vis­ited him. Not so much because he was let­ting me (for I was always allowed to drive the Sportline 300CE while liv­ing at home), but because I could tell in his voice that he wanted me to try it.

I asked him if there’s any his­tory of col­orec­tal can­cer in the fam­ily, which the doc­tor wanted to know at my last appoint­ment, to which my dad answered, thank­fully, no. He shared with me his own health con­cerns, the med­ical terms of which he only knows in Chinese. These are things I avoid ask­ing about when I visit him, as he pops some pills from a bot­tle kept with the dishes in the kitchen, and I real­ize that I’m learn­ing more about my dad than ever. It’s not so much out of a need for pri­vacy or avoid­ance of embar­rass­ment, but sim­ply out of con­ve­nience, as these top­ics would never get brought up.

It’s strange to bond with him in this way, only after so many years of leav­ing home.

I remem­ber him try­ing to teach me pho­tog­ra­phy when I was younger, but he soon lost inter­est, in both pho­tog­ra­phy and me1. Maybe it’s the dis­tance that makes us appre­ci­ate each other more, and it wouldn’t be the same if we lived in the same city.

In a way, I’m glad to have the rela­tion­ship now, and I’m able to for­get that I’ve never had it for most of my life.

  1. As such, all my pho­tog­ra­phy is self-taught, aside from one trick used to zoom a lens towards the sub­ject so that the edges are blurred that he showed me at the Statue of Liberty. []
15 Feb 09

Protected: I Want To Believe

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13 Feb 09

Turkey At Work

Free turkey

Yep, there’s a turkey roam­ing around the park­ing lot at work. And in sub-zero tem­per­a­tures, no less. People try to shoo him away, scared that he might get run over, but he just weaves in and out of the cars in cir­cles. At one point, he even perched him­self on the spoiler of one them. It was a lawyer’s car, so no one cared. Except the lawyer of course.

Free turkey

I remem­ber an online buddy dri­ving here to vis­it­ing me from Illinois back in 2002. It was his first time in Canada, and he remarked that the scenery was really nice, with lots of trees and wildlife, unlike the con­crete jun­gle of American cities. I guess I take Canadian nature for granted.

Free turkey

31 Jan 09

Replacement Pillow

I sleep with three dif­fer­ent pillows.

The one for my head is reg­u­lar sized, with foam fill­ing, and rather flat because I like to sleep with my arm under there. The one on my left is also foam, but a body pil­low. The one on my right is king-sized and filled with down. I like to sleep on my side pressed between the two, and through the night, I’ll alter­nate between sides, hug­ging one.

When she comes over, she takes the king-sized one. My head pil­low is too flat, and obvi­ously my body pil­low is too big.

So I lose my king-sized, and she becomes my replace­ment pillow.

27 Jan 09

To Write And To Remember

I admit that I not only save other people’s posts, but entire blogs.

Sometimes, there are entries I like to read over again. Other times, I just like to be reminded of how right I was. But more often than not, it’s the ephemeral nature of blogs in gen­eral, com­bined with the fickle nature of ado­les­cent writ­ers still try­ing to “define them­selves” on a free medium, that gives me the itch to save. So many writ­ers I used to fol­low have changed domain names, started pro­tect­ing their entries, or deleted their blogs.

Some things are garbage and should be for­got­ten or thrown away — but some things deserve to be kept too. Word-for-word, exactly the way it was spo­ken, because that’s the way it was expressed.

Fortunately, or unfor­tu­nately, depend­ing on your point-of-view, our words do last. Just because they aren’t there any­more, doesn’t mean they were never spoken.

There are con­se­quences to the things we write, whether we want them or not.

23 Jan 09

Protected: Forced To Deal

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11 Jan 09

Protected: Revealing Underwear

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23 Dec 08

Life Is Pain

Hand spot

Sometimes, you stab your­self in the hand with a point, but it’s not sharp enough to break the skin.

Sometimes, the blood comes to the sur­face, and this is as much of your­self as you can show the world.

Sometimes, the pave­ment is cov­ered in snow out­side, and you can drive over 100kph in one spot before the trac­tion kicks in.

Sometimes, you scare your­self with your recklessness.

Sometimes, you real­ize that life is pain.

Sometimes, you have noth­ing left but numb­ness and resolve.

19 Dec 08

A Blogger Passes On

Many years ago, I received an e-mail from a reader named Winston Rand, look­ing for some blog­ging advice:


I have been to your equiv­o­cal­ity site numer­ous times over the last cou­ple of months and always come away impressed. Having vis­ited many other “blogs” — God how I’ve come to hate that term — I keep com­ing back to yours as my gold stan­dard. Been think­ing of start­ing my own, even have 2 domain names paid for, but being an engi­neer and an IT pro, I’m too hes­i­tant to start until most of the answers are quite clear. That is a strength as well as a failing…

In my quest, I’ve looked at many dif­fer­ent blog­ging tools, host­ing sites, etc., and am still not sure which route to take. My temp­ta­tion is to say to hell with all of them and just post my stuff using sta­tic html pages (Dreamweaver) since I’m not really inter­ested in feed­back or com­ments that much. But I do like the abil­ity to eas­ily inte­grate cal­en­dar, archives, and other fea­tures that most of the blog pack­ages seem to include by default. And who knows, one of these days I may care what other peo­ple think of my work.

Among the pop­u­lar pack­ages, I’ve got it nar­rowed down to WordPress, Moveable Type, and SquareSpace, but I’m wide open to sug­ges­tions and recommendations.

Could you share your thoughts on what you use and rec­om­mend? Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Keep up your excel­lent work! I look for­ward to see­ing more of it.

I steered Winston towards WordPress, and soon after, he started his own blog at nobodyasked.com. Over time, he devel­oped a sig­nif­i­cant read­er­ship, as he would write quite lucidly about pol­i­tics, humour, and the occas­sional geek talk.

Although our blogs cov­ered dif­fer­ent things in a dif­fer­ent style (Winston called it “[spin­ning] in a slightly off­set par­al­lel uni­verse” when describ­ing my blog in his one-year anniver­sary post), we would check up on each other now and then.

During one of my last vis­its, I found out that Winston has died after a 38-hour ill­ness and 3 surg­eries. While I never really knew him in per­son, I still feel like some­one close is gone.

And I wish I could explain why.

15 Dec 08

The Measure of a Man

I’m still not sure if I feel like a man.

I always imag­ined that it’s a mind­set you sud­denly develop (or a way peo­ple view you) once you have kids, or pass 30, whichever one comes first. There’s this idea stuck in my head that adults are these peo­ple who don’t have fun. They don’t watch (and enjoy) stu­pid movies, or play Warcraft, or talk on the phone for hours. It’s prob­a­bly from grow­ing up with my par­ents, who never did any­thing that made them laugh or smile. Or maybe I’m hav­ing too much fun and free­dom to really feel like I’m grown-up.

There was def­i­nitely some point between get­ting my first job and house, and now, that I started to feel like an adult. It was never a dis­tinct line though.

It’s still for­eign for me to say that I date women, as opposed to girls. To think I’ll ever grow out of say­ing that is very strange.

For now, the only thing I do that makes me feel like I’m a man is when I’m pay­ing and fil­ing my bills.

12 Dec 08

Moments Like This

Julie in the Black Tomato

Sometimes, I feel like I’ve been wait­ing to cap­ture moments like this my whole life.

07 Dec 08

Lonely Lot

Lonely parking lot

Sometimes, you need to get out­side. Dodge the drunks stum­bling through the halls, the peo­ple stand­ing and wait­ing for their groups, the famil­iar faces. Maybe because it’s snow­ing out­side, and you don’t want to miss it, when the sky aches the same orange as you do.

This isn’t your scene, but there’s no one to back you up, so you smile and nod. Fake kisses and oblig­a­tory hugs, think­ing, “I don’t know you, and I never will”. A façade to appear nor­mal, when mem­o­ries come flood­ing back. Sitting alone at a table, won­der­ing why you came in the first place. Times with­out a per­son to make you a promise. Moments with other people’s wives, because he’s secure like that, and wish­ing for noth­ing else. Walking these halls alone the way you’re doing now. Memories you wish were a lit­tle more dis­tant. Maybe you’ll come back one day, and break even, or maybe even come out ahead.

Until then, your indif­fer­ence will keep you alive.

Sometimes you need to take a pic­ture of some­thing, any­thing, because noth­ing you see here is how you feel, and it’s the only way you can scream.

Maybe it’s not so much out­side, where you’re run­ning, as away.

04 Dec 08

More Stolen Words and Pictures

Most recently, a per­son called Cleo, who also goes by the mis­nomer “sexy1980”, stole both words and pic­tures from a heart­felt entry I wrote after a par­tic­u­larly hard day. Word-for-word. You see that car on her site? That’s my car.

Cleo steals

If you dare to look at this abor­tion of a web page, do so at your own risk. I warn you, the ani­ma­tions and colours are not for the feint of heart.

I wasn’t happy when some­one started copy­ing entire entries of mine, word-for-word, or when another per­son stole my design of Version 10 (his attempted redesign in an effort to cover up his actions isn’t that far off either). Sure, I also get peo­ple hotlink­ing my images too, but I take sim­ple plea­sure in replac­ing the images with pic­tures of a lemon party, because I get to laugh at things like this.

But when some­one steals both my words and hotlinks my pic­tures I get really pissed off.

02 Dec 08

Christmas Wish-List '08

Updated tastes for 2008. Many items from my 2006 and 2007 lists are crossed out, which is why cat­e­gories like “fur­ni­ture” aren’t smaller now.

I’ve been told that I’m noto­ri­ously hard to shop for. Not only am I extremely picky, I have eso­teric (and expen­sive) tastes, and I usu­ally buy — and so, have — the things that I want. This year, I real­ized that good gifts are things peo­ple want, but which they don’t buy for them­selves because they can’t jus­tify the cost. It doesn’t have to be lav­ish, but maybe a lit­tle over­priced, some­thing you wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily buy for yourself.






29 Nov 08

Dexter the Cat

Named after Dexter the ser­ial killer. You can’t keep this cat down. If you leave any­thing lying around that’s not more than 25 pounds, he’ll play with it. This usu­ally involves bat­ting, scratch­ing, knock­ing it off a table, or chew­ing it.

I sus­pect this is why Darren keeps his house so clean.