Waltz for Koop

I really should be sleeping now. I had just finished listening to the entire album Waltz for Koop (by Koop), when I thought I’d end the night by listening to Damien Rice‘s The Blower’s Daughter. But it seems iTunes had other plans — I had forgotten to uncheck the Waltz for Koop songs.

So after Damien Rice’s number was over, it went straight to a Koop track. I couldn’t help but keep on listening. Really, I wanted to stop, but the music wouldn’t let me.

You see, that’s the problem with music.

It’s addictive.

Negotiation and Human Behaviour

The passages quoted below can be found in the book Fundamentals of Negotiation by Gerard Nierenberg. I’m sharing these with you because of the insight it has provided me regarding the techniques in dealing with people. I especially enjoyed the second passage, where Nierenberg asks the reader the question, “are you more interested in their behaviour, or the motivations behind the behaviour?”

As a person greatly interested in psychology I’ve always chosen the latter, that of “the motivations behind the behaviour.” But Nierenberg argues that these motivations are not as important as the behaviour. There are many motivations for people to do anything, and many of these are rational, but rationality is people-specific, he says. It is far better to work with the numbers of probability, trying to predict what his next behaviour will be, and work from there.

[i] People’s behaviour are guided by their own rationalisations. Whatever they do, in some way or another they are doing it as they believe it will help in some way, even though it might seem to the contrary. A man who flies into a rage might be trying to prove a point, in his own rational way, that he is to be taken seriously this time.

[ii] When talking/negotiating with people, are you more interested in their behaviour, or the motivations behind the behaviour? Man’s motivations are many, and often may well be rational, but this rationality is people-specific. Behaviours on the other hand, are like probability. You cannot predict what an individual man may do, but you can predict with mathematical certainty what a group of individuals will do.

The End of NSF

Today marks the day I’m no longer NSF (National Service, Full-time). It’s been quite a long two years since I enlisted into the army (29th September 2004), and I’m ecstatic it’s finally over. As much as I hated it, I have to admit that life in the army has changed me into a different man, hopefully better, but definitely not worse.

Brunei Training

If you asked me what impacted me the most during my NSF tour, I think it’d have to be the overseas training exercise in Brunei, where I remarked to a friend “I’ve never been in so much pain in my life” just before we ended the exercise, and I meant it.

IPPT Gold

In the IPPT (Individual Physical Proficiency Test) following Brunei, I managed to get my long awaited IPPT Gold. What made the gold even sweeter was that there was someone in my detail who had the number “174”. In mandarin, 174 literally translated sounds like “die together.” The last time someone had that number, his whole detail failed the test.

I told my friend, “I’m going to break that jinx,” and I did.

Did I believe I was going to “break that jinx” when I said it? Actually, no. But with the power of hindsight, I command thee to kneel before me and acknowledge I broke the jinx!

What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

I feel like Hercules.

Rainy Day

It’s a rainy day.

A guy sees girl he’s admired for a long time, but never got an opportunity to talk to.

She seems to be waiting for the rain to stop. She’s looking across the road.

He sees a man holding an umbrella and approaches him. They can be seen talking. They disappear behind a wall. The man can be seen in the distance running in the rain towards his car.

Oh my, what’s this? He has made an umbrella magically appear in his suitcase!
(“In case of rainy days…” he says.)

He walks up to her.

“You know why the chicken crossed the road?”

She looks surprised, and a little amused.
Perhaps she has an interest in him, too.

“No. Why did the chicken cross the road?”

“To get to the other side!” he replies.

She smiles. Goddamnit, she smiles.

“You want to be a chicken?” he asks.

“What?” she asks.

“You want to cross the road?” he asks again.

She smiles, gives out a small laugh. “Yes. Yes, I do.”

“Let’s be chickens together then, shall we?” At which point he opens up his umbrella, and they cross.

Perhaps the Saddest Song Ever

I came across this song, Watching Alice by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, by accident recently. The song is pure genius.

Twisted, but sad as hell.

Alice wakes
It is morning
She is yawning
As she walks about the room
Her hair falls down her breast
She is naked and it is June

Standing at the window
I wonder if she knows that I can see

Watching Alice rise year after year
Up in her palace, she’s captive there

Alice’s body
Is golden brown
Her hair hangs down
As she stoops to conquer me
First she pulls her stocking on
And then the church bell chimes
Alice climbes into her uniform
The zippers on the side
Watching Alice dressing in her room
It’s so depressing, it’s cruel

Watching Alice dressing in her room
It’s so depressing, it’s true

Morning Cycle

I decided last night that I would wake up this morning to go cycling. This was something I hadn’t done in a few years, and thus I thought it would be a nice way of bringing back some memories. I used to run/cycle in the early mornings back when I was in the Poly; back then, I had this habit of sleeping really early, and waking up at 3 or 4 am to do my work or simply chill.

My sleeping habits at present are more typical of young people: sleeping at 1 or 2 am and waking up at 9 or 10 am. So last night’s decision to go cycling this morning was actually a rather hopeful one, as I didn’t quite expect myself to wake up. But there was something about a morning cycle that excited me, so much so that I quite literally jumped out of bed today, at 5.30 am.

Pictures

On the way from Punggol Park towards Sengkang

Morning fog… it looked really beautiful; I was hoping to capture this better in a photograph, but this really isn’t too bad. Fog in Singapore isn’t very common, and you’ll normally only be able to get this on large areas of vegetation.

Punggol Fog

It was surprisingly busy on the streets even in the morning, though I wouldn’t say it was “rush hour” yet. It was during my return trip that this road was really, really busy. I was actually hoping to cross the road leading to this expressway, but I probably wouldn’t be here writing this if I had attempted it.

Busy, Busy

On the way from Sengkang towards Punggol, I came across these containers

I came across these containers while heading towards Punggol. There were about five of them in total. The one below had a message written on it. I had actually thought it rather dumb. But after some research, I found that it was actually a quote attributable to Pablo Picasso… but then again, does Picasso’s saying it make it any more smarter? Now there’s a question on value judgements.

Container Art

One of the more colourful ones is shown below. I felt that the drawing on this one was the best, but it might just have been the use of colour. The colours used are brighter, and seem to almost pop right out at you.

Container Art II

Trail to nowhere (Punggol)

I found the trail shown below near one of the LRT stations in Punggol. Curious, I decided to follow it in, as I suspected it led to one of the rivers near by; the trail ran parallel to a small drain, which seemed to back up my suspicions. However, after almost 15 minutes of walking in, all I still seemed to be in the middle of nowhere.

A Trail

Wearing shorts and slippers, and carrying around a bicycle, I wasn’t exactly having the best equipment for this mini hike. Looking around and seeing only grass and trees (and the LRT tracks behind me in the distance), I thought it best to head back. Quite disappointing really. Perhaps I might try again some other day.

Words from Freedom

I love singing and talking to myself while cycling with nobody around. It entertains me, and I find that music comes naturally to me during these moments of what I call “freedom”. The words to a song or poem came to me today, and I’d like to share it with you, in its roughest form first (I might polish it and publish it later on as something more complete):

Some people dream
Of ocean waves against the shore;
A stairway to heaven’s door;
The simple joy of yore.

They dream
Of castles in the air;
Riches that aren’t there;
Fruit that won’t bear.

Some dream
Of supermodels too,
And Fiona Xie in the blue;
But I only dream of you.
But I only dream of you.

The Old Man

I can still see, vividly, the old woman tending to her garden, carefully plucking out the weeds, watering her plants with the tenderness of a nursing mother. This old woman was the wife of the old man whom about a decade ago my mother called “the creepy old man,” as he used to stare at us as we passed by his house with huge, untrusting eyes — as if the 30-ish woman that was my mother and her little child that was me would suddenly attack him and rob him of what little he had possessed.

The old man, when I saw him recently, looked old (very old indeed), and his face had aged much since that comment of my mother’s. He looked particularly sad and lonely, while his eyes betrayed a sense of weariness, a weariness I suspect must have been great, for he had not even glanced at me as I passed by. He was at that time looking at his garden, which was now getting a little overgrown. A few seconds after I had set my eyes on him I wondered why he looked as he did — so sad, so weary — and I recalled what my father had told me recently, that his wife had just passed away.

I wondered if he recognised me, as I recognised him. As images of times long past flashed through my eyes, it dawned on me how much I have changed as compared to him. Through the act of puberty I would have changed beyond recognition, and I sometimes wonder if he even recognises in me the young child of yesteryear, looking at him looking at me.

I have never spoken to him before. Yet, he has left such an impression on me that every time I pass his house I’d think about “the creepy old man.” Though not quite the most flattering of descriptions to remember him by, I’ve always liked him in a quite inexplicable way. Perhaps it was his creepiness itself that endeared him so much to me.

Thinking about him led to thoughts about my childhood. I am lucky that my primary school was situated no more than 200 metres from my house. It has allowed many of my childhood memories strong anchors to hook on to. Even going for my routine run around the neighbourhood throws up memories, such as the time I followed my crush to a small shop nearby, feeling all excited and daring; the time I quarrelled with my friend at his house, and I left his house with him crying; the time I told my grandma (God bless her soul) to inform my tutor that I was not going home due to school remedial lessons (and how angry my tutor was), and other little sweet memories (even the bad ones were good).

Recently, Rachel wrote about her friend’s mother’s passing away. I’m not sure how old she was when she passed away, though I presume it wasn’t due to old age. Yet, these kinds of things remind us how fragile life is, how death is inevitable; whether it comes early or late, inevitable.

One day I’m going to die, and you’re going to die; my family’s going to die, and your family’s going to die; it may not be today or tomorrow, but eventually we all will die.

A decade ago I’d never have imagined myself as who I am today. In what seems like a blink of an eye, life just passes you by. One day, in what will seem like a blink of an eye, I’ll be an old man too, reminding others of the passage of time; or I may die, and remind others of the fragility of life.

Comment on this Poem

I just rediscovered one of my older entries, a poem called “Off to Sunday Mass“. This poem is one of my favourites, and I was wondering if some of you guys might comment on it; whether your comments be in the positive or negative, I’d like to hear from you (of course, if it’s bad, be prepared for a cold war lasting a while, thanks.)

Here are some quick facts about “Off to Sunday Mass” , and why you may want to read and comment on it:

  • It’s the longest poem I’ve ever written
  • It deals with sex, lies and religion, namely Buddhism (and its main theme of reincarnation) and Christianity (with its main theme of monotheism)
  • It’s so far the only I wrote in “chapter” form
  • You might want to read it twice(?) to get its full meaning. if there is one
  • It really is a love story of sorts.
  • You can always ask me questions about it
  • I’ll be more than glad to answer your queries
  • References abound in it, some you may get, others you might not. For the latter, ask. Please.
  • I spent the better part of the hour doing up the first draft, and countless others revising it
  • I like it.
  • I tried getting it commented once on poems.about.com; it got deleted. For some unknown reason.
  • I’m bored. Humour me.

So, No Takers?

Hell, since no one wants to read it, allow me to interpret it to you in prose:

I arrive in this strange place, where an old woman tells me that I will have to reincarnate. The thought of reincarnation scares me, and I deplore the fact that I’ll have to go through the shit had put me through before already. I mention that “having loved and lost is better than never having loved at all”, as an allusion to the fact that I’ve already served my time loving, and losing, and don’t want to go through that pain again. The woman tells me of “designated spots”, these “spots” really being places where I might consider taking my own life, if I so had the inclination: train tracks, middle of the highway, high buildings/bridges etc., the usual suicide spots.

I get angry at this thought. How can they treat me like this? Asking me to live once more, and teaching me how/where to die? Obviously they know life is painful, yet they throw me in again. To suffer needlessly. I complain that if they give me the choice of ending it early, through suicide, they have to provide me the courage to take my own life too. They can’t give me the choice without giving me the capacity of making those choices.

I then talk about my last moments, how I suffered before I had died. I had contemplated suicide, but “too scared to die,/I had bravely hung on,” and thus fought death till the very end. As a last grasp attempt, with nothing to lose, I prayed to God and told him that I believed in him, and that “Atheists my life decieved!”, pinning the blame of my faithless existence to the atheists who influenced me. If there was a God, he’d forgive me, and send me up to heaven. Otherwise, there would be no God and I’d have been right; either way, I win. “My final lie registered” is due to my disbelieving in God, even when I complained that aethiests deceived me: I still didn’t believe.

After my death, I looked around, thinking I’d end up in heaven. But I didn’t see any of those Saints or God or anyone or anything whom people on Earth claimed were here. Instead, I saw an old woman: the old woman who told me about reincarnation at the start of this poem.

The old woman explained what was happening. I had died, and due to my recent change in beliefs, from Catholicism to Buddhism, I was put in the queue for reincarnation; apparently, I gave up “A direct route to Heaven”. Hearing this, I repented, and prayed to God to save me. I then wake up.

Upon awakening, I realised my white shirt was red, covered with blood. A woman is crying beside me, and it takes me a while to realise that it is my partner, soul-mate if you will. Although I had seen her face a thousand times, this was the first time I really saw her, and I realised how “raw” (due to the crying) she looked presently.

To me, she looked like she thought I’d die. In my mind, I felt that I might die too, but as I was thinking of making her feel better, I attempt to crack a joke, saying that I’d live, it’s not like “in the head I was shot”, though I had my doubts. At this point I hear the ambulance, and appreciating my condition, knew that I would be saved, and that they wouldn’t just be here to put me a body bag. I tell her that this Sunday was our date, to keep her thoughts off me (how she pained thinking of me!)

Sunday comes, and the day is perfect. She’s wearing her Sunday best, together with me. And we go to Church, somewhere I hadn’t gone in ages due to my change in allegiance. The last part’s meant as a kind of irony; for I have seen the light, and realised that reincarnation is not for me, I go with God and his Heaven theory.

And there you have it, the poem in prose. Now tell me, you’d rather have the poem wouldn’t you? heh.