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

The Most I Can Say For Now

Between the over­time and the ven­ture meet­ings with Aaron, the rest­less nights and the early morn­ings, I try to catch my breath. It’s good to be busy, but not when it means I don’t have the time or energy to write. This is the prob­a­bly the most infre­quent pub­lish­ing period I’ve ever been through since the start of this blog. Thoughts develop in my head, but I’m not ready to get them down and hit pub­lish yet. Maybe it’s a com­fort thing, maybe it’s a front, maybe I’ve sim­ply lost the desire to doc­u­ment every sin­gle detail of my life.

Through all of this I feel myself regain­ing some sta­bil­ity, although I tread lightly, remain­ing both con­scious and cau­tious. This is the most I can say for now.

22 Aug 05

Tom And Mel's Wedding

Thumbnail: Boardroom

Thumbnail: Glass of guiness

Thumbnail: Dinner table

Even before the wed­ding began, I had already unfairly decided that I wasn’t going to have a good time. Thank god I was wrong. My ini­tial feel­ing was based on the knowl­edge that cer­tain agi­tat­ing peo­ple were going to be there — a very tan­gi­ble reminder of why we moved under cover of dark­ness for the last Bancroft farm excur­sion — but there were enough nor­mal peo­ple to dilute any creepiness.

The cer­e­mony was short and sweet. The food was the best I’ve had in weeks, although my grad­ual recov­ery from viral gas­troen­teri­tis meant that I could only have half of the por­tions served. The com­pany at the din­ner table was friendly and open enough to address every­one sit­ting (Tolstoy wrote well about such a dif­fi­culty in Anna Karenina when he describes “a small table with per­sons present, like the stew­ard and the archi­tect, belong­ing to a com­pletely dif­fer­ent world, strug­gling not to be over­awed by an ele­gance to which they were unac­cus­tomed, and unable to sus­tain a large share in the gen­eral con­ver­sa­tion”). Aside from an idi­otic anal­ogy about aspara­gus, the speeches were gen­er­ally well-written; not too trite, and all the more poignant from the emo­tion with which they were spoken.

Aaron was there as my wing­man, ensur­ing a good time. Jenn was there as my date, mak­ing the guys jeal­ous. I even saw Christine, although we never had a chance to talk. Apparently, I missed every time she waved at us, so she may have thought that I was ignor­ing or avoid­ing her, which may be why she flicked my ear as she was walk­ing by my table. I still feel bad enough about miss­ing her last birth­day party.

Until din­ner there was an open bar, with Corona and even Guinness on tap, as well as a straw­berry mar­garita machine that could make them like smooth­ies. After din­ner was the danc­ing, and by the time the we were through a dozen or so songs, it was already late, so we headed home.

19 Aug 05

It Stopped Raining

It stopped rain­ing, and the grey sky has turned black with the night. The refresh­ing smell of wet pave­ment and grass drifts lazily through my win­dow, while droplets col­lect and fall from the over­hangs of every house, a dif­fer­ent sound with each vary­ing height and tex­ture. Cars drive by, and I imag­ine the spray from their tires ris­ing and falling in the light of the mild, golden street lamps.

In per­son, I’m gen­er­ally very pri­vate about my life, but I find myself open­ing up to the strangest peo­ple lately.

The most unex­pected ones seem to care.

17 Aug 05

The Power Of Freedom

I have an extremely dif­fi­cult time deal­ing with peo­ple who choose to com­plain about some­thing and do noth­ing about it. These are the peo­ple who gripe about the jobs that feed them, decry the rela­tion­ships they’re too scared to leave, pine for bet­ter lives when a bet­ter life is only a few steps away. Religious doc­trines of pre­des­ti­na­tion aside, as humans we’re the mas­ters of our fate. We con­trol what hap­pens, because we have the respon­si­bil­ity — the response abil­ity — to make change happen.

When the bad starts to out­weigh the good, then it’s time to shut the fuck up and be active in chang­ing the sit­u­a­tion. When the good is still greater than the bad, then it’s time to shut the fuck up and deal with what­ever minor prob­lems there are.

And when life hands you lemons, make lemon­ade, try to find a guy whose life has given him vodka, and have a party.

13 Aug 05

Butterball

Thumbnail: Dolly on couch

Dolly’s new nick­name is Butterball. Kat’s chris­ten­ing. She sure hasn’t lost any weight lately. Dolly, that is, not Kat.

11 Aug 05

An Odd Mood Lately

I spend my time squar­ing away every­thing in my room so that I’m com­fort­able enough to write. The extra cables are gone, as well as the ran­dom receipts and bus trans­fers that some­how end up on the car­pet. My mir­rors are all in place, mak­ing the room seem twice as big, but I when I look I only see myself, slouched com­fort­ably in my chair, hood over my head. Even Dolly has won­dered in to lay her­self flat on the empty floor. By the time I’m done clean­ing, I’m at a loss for all the things I’ve been try­ing to get into well struc­tured paragraphs.

A new episode of Trailer Park Boys is play­ing on Showcase, and I’m watch­ing it with the sound off because too much infor­ma­tion would ruin the fourth sea­son, some­thing I’m deter­mined to see in order from the begin­ning. Ricky’s in a high school, com­pletely out of place as a thirty-something man in shop class try­ing to make some hash or grow some weed or har­vest some kind of nar­cotic, and this only adds to my amusement.

I’ve been let­ting my hair grow out, à la Matt Heafy in the video for Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr. Somehow, I’ve only now dis­cov­ered that my hair nat­u­rally grows towards the front, and by brush­ing it for­ward, it still looks respectable when I haven’t had it cut in a month and a half.

I’ve been in an odd mood lately. Thoughts branch off in my mind, but noth­ing seems solid enough to fol­low through. Inspiration always comes the day after today.

06 Aug 05

Damn The Consequence

One of the keys to blog­ging is to never give a shit about what any­one else thinks. Never write for an audi­ence. Never cen­sor one­self based on what other peo­ple may say. Never be embar­rassed or ashamed to admit anything.

Otherwise, one isn’t being true to one­self. If there are those who are nosy, those whom we’d rather not have read­ing, that should never be an issue. I may have my fair share of creepy inter­net stalk­ers (one is already more than enough), but I refuse to let that stop me from say­ing what’s really on my mind.

It may be dif­fi­cult to let go, but it’s worth it. The free­dom is com­pletely empow­er­ing. Blogs are a per­sonal space, as pub­lic as they may be, and should be treated as such.

Expression is an act that should never be hin­dered by some­thing as harm­less as opinion.

03 Aug 05

More Sickness

Hence the absence from work. It feels like the long week­end burned me out, and I need another one. Thank god it’s already Wednesday.

Really, it’s prob­a­bly just a mild stom­ach bug, caus­ing my body to reject every­thing but very dry, thinly sliced toast that comes in packs of eight, named after the stage name of Australian opera singer Helen Porter Mitchell. I sus­pect that I’ll also be able to con­sume col­la­gen processed from pork skin, cat­tle bones, and cat­tle hide, but I’m still wait­ing for it to set in the freezer.

I feel so help­less when I’m like this. I gen­er­ally don’t worry about much, but health is the only thing that I can’t look at cere­brally. I’m not even com­fort­able writ­ing this. It just keeps mak­ing me think of how bad I feel. Too nau­se­ated to fall asleep. Too tired to do any­thing else.

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

Zone

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.