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

Some Days...

Some days I wake up and I feel like I’m ready to con­quer the world. Other days I wake up and I’m too dif­fi­dent to even answer my phone at work or at home. Most days I’m stable.

09 Jul 05

HK Fullscreen, Revisited, Again

Here I am, try­ing to get another entry down, but there’s a movie play­ing on OMNI.2, one of Canada’s pre­mier multi-cultural chan­nels. Although the pro­gram­ming of OMNI.2 is aimed for 22 dif­fer­ent eth­no­cul­tural groups in 20 dif­fer­ent lan­guages, Saturday nights are always in Cantonese. Almost just as invari­able are the roman­tic come­dies of Hong Kong cin­ema that they broad­cast around this time.

It makes sense of course; stud­ies have shown that by 2017, vis­i­ble minori­ties will top 50% in Toronto and Vancouver, with Chinese peo­ple mak­ing up over 500,000 of that per­cent­age. Add to this the grow­ing fas­ci­na­tion of younger peo­ple with the Asian cul­ture, and recent flicks from Hong Kong are the per­fect way to build a strong mar­ket presence.

Unfortunately, the movies are mostly trite: a col­lec­tion of pre­dictable, sac­cha­rine love sto­ries with lit­tle artis­tic intent, and the one on now is no dif­fer­ent. I have to admit though, as sim­ple as these movies are, they still affect me. When I see the char­ac­ter­is­tic neon build­ing signs, homely food stalls filled with wok hey, and claus­tro­pho­bi­cally busy streets of Hong Kong again, I’m filled with a cer­tain inex­plic­a­ble romanticism.

And I can’t seem to get over it. All I want to do is go to Hong Kong again and share the expe­ri­ence with some­one. An expe­ri­ence that’s heart-racingly poignant, like the ado­les­cent mem­ory of a first date, when you’re build­ing up the courage to hold someone’s hand. Perhaps, like Humbert Humbert in Nabokov’s Lolita, the mem­ory of my child­hood has frozen some­thing in me. A mem­ory that’s beautiful.

Simply, purely, beautiful.

09 Jul 05

It's A Rainy, Overcast Saturday Morning

I’m only awake now because I’m too used to wak­ing up at half past six on work­days. A mug of Hong Kong milk tea (made with con­densed milk for extra creami­ness) has always been my week­end com­fort food, but I ran out of loose leaves a few weeks ago. Usually, I sit at my desk and write after break­fast, fin­ish­ing off the tea from break­fast, but instead I’ll be going to my music for inspiration.

I’ve run into a string of good music lately, or maybe I’ve just been hear­ing things in a dif­fer­ent way. None of my playlists seem rel­e­vant again. More details when I have more time.

It’s good to be sober.

07 Jul 05

Trinary Maturity: The House

In the last year of high school, I was called into the guid­ance office for some direc­tion in choos­ing a post-secondary insti­tu­tion. The coun­cilor, a very, very Caucasian man, went through the fea­tures of each uni­ver­sity, not­ing espe­cially the ones with nice cam­puses. In an effort to save his time, I explained that the esthet­ics of a uni­ver­sity were of no con­se­quence to me, because they wouldn’t affect my life. Apparently this was a dif­fer­ent approach from other stu­dents, whom he believed decided on the direc­tion of their edu­ca­tion through a desire for lush lawns and big dorm rooms.

I’d always believed that I’d feel the same way about a house as a cam­pus. Give me enough room for my com­puter with walls thick enough to crank my music and I’ll be happy, I used to say. While this may still hold true, I’ve dis­cov­ered that I’m even hap­pier with a nice place. I finally under­stood that coun­cilor, four years later, after chang­ing uni­ver­si­ties for a brief post-graduate stint. The new cam­pus was big, mod­ern, and inspir­ing; quite a dif­fer­ence from my pre­vi­ous uni­ver­sity with its brown build­ings and con­stant construction.

It’s the same when com­par­ing a rented place of res­i­dence and an actual house. A house begets secu­rity, and in turn, a sense of con­fi­dence. There’s a dis­tinct feel­ing, every day, wak­ing up in one’s own home. Knowing that every pay­cheque is going towards some equity, a lit­tle piece of prop­erty I call my own. Having a com­fort zone, a place that I don’t have to deal with any­one I don’t want to. A place where I make the rules, not hav­ing to answer to land­lords or security.

It was the process too, that helped me grow. Aside from the com­mon sense of own­ing a house as a long-term invest­ment, I was inspired (or should I say “dri­ven”) to move because of a room­mate. After one par­tic­u­larly child­ish con­flict, I decided more than four months before I actu­ally had time to look, to buy a house and take Trolley with me. We moved in before the lease was up on the apartment.

I went through the entire process myself, know­ing noth­ing at the start. I had never done any­thing on this scale before, and while it may seem triv­ial to those who have been ini­tia­tors their entire lives, this was a big step for me. It let me know that I could actu­ally accom­plish the things I want.

And that cast aside all the doubt that was hold­ing me back.

The Trinary Maturity Series

  1. Introduction
  2. The Job
  3. The Girlfriend
  4. The House
  5. (In)Conclusion
02 Jul 05

The Garden In The Back

Thumbnail: Garden at night

It turns out I have a garden.

Thumbnail: Flower close-up

I moved in when there was still snow on the ground, and I only knew that there was a lit­tle patch of soil in my back­yard from the few dead stems stick­ing out of the snow canopy. Eventually the snow melted, then spring came and passed, but the soil remained bar­ren and dry. Summer started, and Trolley noticed some sprout­ing when he would go to smoke out­side. He pulled some dead growth and weeds but did noth­ing more, not even a water­ing. The gar­den just started to bloom by itself.

Thumbnail: Flower with bee

I have no idea what kind of plants they are, but they seem to be doing well.

28 Jun 05

Protected: The Ping-Pong Penis

This con­tent is pass­word pro­tected. To view it please enter your pass­word below:

26 Jun 05

Trinary Maturity: The Girlfriend (or The Lifestyle)

It’s easy for some­one to asso­ciate an expe­ri­ence with the last mem­ory involved. I’m not with­out guilt in this issue myself. I’ll admit that the rough patches near the end of my rela­tion­ship with Loo have come to define the expe­ri­ence a lit­tle unfairly. Sometimes I have to remind myself of how much it’s helped and changed me.

In real­ity, I learned more from my time with Louise than from any pre­vi­ous rela­tion­ship. This was a per­son who inspired (and pushed) me to be bet­ter, but it wasn’t only her, it was the lifestyle as well.

I try not to have too much respon­si­bil­ity at this stage in my life, so when I do have it I take it seri­ously. Being a dom­i­nant means that respon­si­bil­ity is assumed over another per­son, another being, another liv­ing soul. To be given this respon­si­bil­ity, as a bond of supine trust, pro­vided me a sense of con­fi­dence I had never felt before.

And with this trust came a reju­ve­nated zeal for self-improvement. She was strong her­self, so I had to be stronger. If Louise’s con­tri­bu­tion was to push, my con­tri­bu­tion was to grow. It helped me fig­ure out what I want in the next few stages of my life. I stopped slouch­ing. I started speak­ing with more author­ity. I started walk­ing into restau­rants first, some­thing I could never do before, for rea­sons I could never explain. I demanded more out of life.

In the end, it didn’t work out. The dynamic wasn’t right. Unfortunately, I never felt like I was able to com­pletely han­dle every­thing until it was actu­ally over. Funny how life works out like that. What I’ve lost is only rel­e­vant now.

But what I’ve gained is more important.

The Trinary Maturity Series

  1. Introduction
  2. The Job
  3. The Girlfriend
  4. The House
  5. (In)Conclusion
23 Jun 05

Cottage On A Thursday

Thumbnail: Boat upholstery

I got to work early this morn­ing, around 7:30 or so. It was an effort to make up for yes­ter­day, in which I called in sick. By 8:30, my boss had asked me to go to his cot­tage and help him with his new pon­toon, and we left by nine.

Thumbnail: Boat motor

After pick­ing the boat up from the deal­er­ship, I was charged with the task of dri­ving his car from one of the boat docks of the lake to his cot­tage. We spent the whole day there, and I man­aged to get in a few pho­tos. I like the shot of the uphol­stery the most: the colours are per­fect, and have those lux­u­ri­ous, match­ing cream colours that are so char­ac­ter­is­tic of aqua vehi­cles. Even the motor is pretty sweet (4-stroke elec­tronic fuel injec­tion) and only requires the turn of a key to start.

Thumbnail: Cottage dock

I’m exhausted now, but it was def­i­nitely nice to be out of the office and on a lake, on a Thursday no less.

22 Jun 05

A/C For Computer

I already had a new com­puter priced out — One of the dual-core AMD Athlon X2 4400+ proces­sors (because 0.2 MHz isn’t worth a moth­er­fuck­ing $500 price jump) based on the Toledo core — mark­ing my switch to AMD, 2 gigs of super fast RAM, 200 gig SATA HDD (I decided not to go dual for RAID 0 cause strip­ing appar­ently doesn’t do much), the lat­est ATI Sapphire Radeon series — X850XT Platinum with dual DVI (I was think­ing of SLI nVidia cards, but then I’d want to buy two cards when upgrad­ing), a DVD burner, and one of the deluxe socket-939 Asus moth­er­boards. I even bought two 19″ flat panel mon­i­tors two months ago in antic­i­pa­tion of the sys­tem, and got my par­ents to front me for some of the cash.

Then my air con­di­tioner broke. It’s one of those grey areas, where it would cost me $300 just to test for leaks (after spend­ing $100 to find out what was wrong in the first place). This, in turn, is to find out how much it would cost to fix it, which could be any­where from $300 to $1000. So instead of tak­ing the chance on a seven-year-old A/C that may break again next year, I decided to put the money towards a new one. A brand-name one that would hope­fully last me more than 10 years, with a 5 year parts/labor war­ranty and a 10 year war­ranty on the com­pres­sor coil.

Unfortunately, it’s going to cost me $3500. This means that instead of sav­ing for a com­puter, I’ll be aim­ing to pay the A/C over the next six months. I could have stretched the pay­ment over a year, but it’d be at 5% inter­est, com­pounded monthly. My finan­cial goals are being put on hold now. I don’t need a new com­puter, although I could eas­ily take advan­tage of a dual-core desk­top, and it would cer­tainly be inspir­ing to use such a sweet machine to work on my projects with Aaron. This has only made me more deter­mined; I’m going to save all the money myself now, and think­ing over a longer term.

19 Jun 05

Trinary Maturity: The Job

The first cat­a­lyst involved in my “trans­for­ma­tion” was my job. It could be said that the only rea­son this job was so sig­nif­i­cant is because I had never had such a job before. Perhaps things would be dif­fer­ent if I started my cur­rent career at a dif­fer­ent time, although the same could be said about the other two factors.

I was hired to work closely with one of two own­ers, a man with the drive, mind, wit, and per­son­al­ity to run one of the top com­pa­nies in the indus­try. I see myself as a tool, an exten­sion of his per­son, respon­si­ble for things that he doesn’t have time to do. By free­ing his time, the com­pany is able to grow faster, because his resources can then be put to bet­ter use.

My role is as a sort of sub­mis­sive. This works out well, because in (most of) the rest of my life I’m dom­i­nant. Like me, many sub­mis­sives at work are also dom­i­nants at home, and vice-versa. People want change from the every­day life of their career, and in fact, my sub­mis­sion in this role is what makes me a bet­ter dom­i­nant in oth­ers (more on this extremely sig­nif­i­cant point in the forth­com­ing part of this series).

I don’t have the per­son­al­ity to run a busi­ness, the way my boss doesn’t have the per­son­al­ity to work for some­one else. Our roles are clearly defined, and I’m much more pro­duc­tive as a sub­mis­sive in this sit­u­a­tion. It’s this pro­duc­tive­ness that has given me so much con­fi­dence. I know how good a worker I am, how inte­gral my role is in the com­pany, and how dif­fi­cult I would be to replace.

Relational roles aside, how­ever, there are sev­eral other fac­tors of my job that con­tributed to what I con­sider explo­sive growth. The respon­si­bil­ity I have was a big thing. As the only IT per­son there, I have to make sure that all our hard­ware and soft­ware is suf­fi­cient for what we’re doing. When the nature of the busi­ness changes, the upper ech­e­lon comes to me for a solu­tion, whether it’s upcom­ing VOIP imple­men­ta­tion to save on long dis­tance, wire­less track­ing of our pick-ups and deliv­er­ies, or some­thing as sim­ple as a server upgrade to han­dle the mar­ket growth.

Even things like mak­ing phone calls have changed me. I was never com­fort­able on the phone. Only a year ago, order­ing pizza was a dif­fi­cult thing to do, and Trolley can attest to this after get­ting him to call for me sev­eral times. The only expla­na­tion I could come up with for this behav­iour is that there are peo­ple on the other end, but I still can’t really make sense of this aside from poor self-confidence. All I knew was that my tele­phone shy­ness was a prob­lem. I got over it by forc­ing myself to make phone calls at work. After all, one does not stop a project at a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion when one’s boss wants some­thing done. I still have my off-days, of course, when I avoid mak­ing calls alto­gether, but those are few and far between.

Not only has my job sparked a change in me, it’s paved a way for other growth as well. Even finan­cially speak­ing, I now have the free­dom to pur­sue my other goals and hobbies.

Every day I work, I’m thankful.

The Trinary Maturity Series

  1. Introduction
  2. The Job
  3. The Girlfriend
  4. The House
  5. (In)Conclusion
18 Jun 05

I Was Up At Five

Not by choice, of course. I rolled around in bed for an hour or so, and decided that I should do some­thing pro­duc­tive if I was awake any­way. After some shop­ping in the refresh­ing morn­ing weather (thank god for the 24 hour gro­cery store just five min­utes away), I made break­fast and fell back asleep for another hour.

I’m awake now, but I’m still drowsy as fuck.

I’ve been try­ing to get an entry writ­ten since wednes­day and a pack of ground beef browned since mon­day, but the week has been one exhaust­ing day after another. I worked a 13-hour day on tues­day, and it feels like I haven’t recov­ered yet. It seems like every week I’m wait­ing for another week­end so I can recu­per­ate and get my life together.

15 Jun 05

Getting Easier To Write Again

It’s not that I haven’t had time to write lately, it’s that every time I sit down and set myself on writ­ing, I can’t fol­low through on any of my ideas. I blame the close prox­im­ity of my house to my job. For years, going to uni­ver­sity and going to work on the bus would force me to sit pas­sively, while some­one would take me to my des­ti­na­tion. I didn’t have to think about any­thing, so my mind would drift about ran­dom things, like my friends, my rela­tion­ships, and my life. Back then, my entries were thor­ough and bet­ter developed.

It’s slowly get­ting eas­ier to write again. I don’t have to force myself as much.

12 Jun 05

Speaking Of Accents...

Louise once told me that she liked the way I say want because it appar­ently sounds like wunt. I can’t really hear it, of course, and I think it’s the only word that I can’t quite say the right way.

10 Jun 05

A-E-I-O-Accent

This is one of the most inter­est­ing things I’ve ever come across. People from around the world are asked to read the same para­graph in English. The para­graph has been designed to include most of the con­so­nants, vow­els, and clus­ters found in stan­dard American English, so that one can really get a sense of all the vari­a­tions in an accent.

I love the gen­tle­ness of Lebanese Arabic (per­haps I asso­ciate it with the charm­ing, well-educated, velvet-voiced Lenanese gen­tle­man at work). The inter­est­ing thing is that it sounds com­pletely dif­fer­ent from Palestinian Arabic. As a small exam­ple, the for­mer has a more exag­ger­ated “ee” sound, while the lat­ter has a windier “r” sound.

I hate the painful sound­ing Cantonese accents. Somehow, each one is so uniquely bad that it’s passed humourously bad, and gone back to uniquely bad again. None of them can prop­erly pro­nounce “pl“s, “th“s and “ll“s, and the con­so­nants are harsh to the ear. There are also very sub­tle dif­fer­ences between these Cantonese speak­ers from Hong Kong, and a Cantonese speaker from China. One can hear the slightly more del­i­cate let­ter com­bi­na­tions from a per­son sur­rounded by Mandarin speak­ers on the mainland.

For me, the most inter­est­ing com­par­isons are between native English speak­ers. I let Shirley lis­ten to the Glasgow ver­sion, and she couldn’t get over how hot it is. Of course, the most neu­tral accent to me is from Toronto, see­ing as how I grew up there. I hear this accent the most, and always find it amus­ing when for­eign­ers can pull off a fake accent (I’ve been told we sound very bland). Jackie had the most adorable New Jersey accent, and at one point Angie admit­ted that she had some­what of a Southern drawl.

Perhaps my fas­ci­na­tion with (and attrac­tion of) things speech related stems from an early study of Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. One of the scenes in My Fair Lady that really stuck out in my mind was the abil­ity of the pro­tag­o­nist (whom Shaw describes as an “ener­getic pho­netic enthu­si­ast”) to dis­tin­guish 130 vowel sounds from a sim­ple, short record­ing of a voice going through A–E–I–O–U in one fluid motion with no consonants.

Usually I can rec­og­nize some­one from a voice and accent, some­times bet­ter than I can from a face.

08 Jun 05

It Was Raining This Morning

I stepped out­side, and the street­lights were on. To the west the clouds were clear­ing, while the sun was fight­ing the brood­ing sky in the east. Everything felt a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. As I walked to work, zipped up in my light wind­breaker, sweat­ing from the suf­fo­cat­ing mate­r­ial, the rain slowed then stopped.