A Singing Voice

I just came across a poem called A Singing Voice by Kenneth Rexroth. It’s not the first time I’ve read it, but it’s been years, I believe, since I last did so. I recall the very first time I read this poem; I got goosebumps and experienced an extremely strong sense of nostalgia. I may have teared. In this last reading I realise none of its initial potency was lost.

A little over three years ago, this poem led me to the purchase of the book that contained it (called Good Poems for Hard Times, a collection of poems selected by Garrison Keillor — an absolutely magnificent collection). Haven’t regretted that decision.

Here it is, because I believe it’s too good not to be shared.

Once, camping on a high bluff
Above the Fox River, when
I was about fourteen years
Old, on a full moonlit night
Crowded with whippoorwills and
Frogs, I lay awake long past
Midnight watching the moon move
Through the half drowned stars. Suddenly
I heard, far away on the warm
Air a high clear soprano,
Purer than the purest boy’s
Voice, singing, “Tuck me to sleep
In my old ‘Tucky home.”
She was in an open car
Speeding along the winding
Dipping highway beneath me.
A few seconds later
An old touring car full of
Boys and girls rushed by under
Me, the soprano rising
Full and clear and now close by
I could hear the others singing
Softly behind her voice. Then
Rising and falling with the
Twisting road the song closed, soft
In the night. Over thirty
Years have gone by but I have
Never forgotten. Again
And again, driving on a
Lonely moonlit road, or waking
In a warm murmurous night,
I hear that voice singing that
Common song like an
Angelic memory.

Going to the Zoo Tomorrow

I tried getting the corporate pass to the zoo today but was told that it was all taken up for the month of February. Thankfully the fiancée’s company has the pass to the zoo too, and hopefully she’ll be able to get one in March.

Then we can finally sing this song with gusto:

PS: By the way, make a guess who introduced this song to me! (Those who know the fiancée really shouldn’t find it too difficult.)

Update: Seems like we’re going to the zoo this month after all! Got an e-mail from HR informing me that the pass has been reserved for me next weekend! I’m going to the zoo zoo zoo, how about you you you?

Falling in love during CNY in Malaysia

Just came back not too long ago from Malaysia, after spending the night at my aunt’s Malaysian home. She had been urged by her Malaysian neighbours to return to Malaysia to see the firecrackers and fireworks — “Singapore’s too quiet!” her neighbours told her.

The transition into the Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year was a very noisy one. From 11.58 onwards firecrackers and fireworks were set off; who would have thought this was illegal in Malaysia? Very cool.

The fiancée wasn’t with me today; instead, she was back home at her kampung in Batu Pahat. I suppose since I was in JB, we really weren’t that far apart. I swear I heard some of the firecrackers and fireworks that were set off at her place. I could just imagine her smiling and laughing away as she saw bit after bit of paper bursting into flames, thinking about me thinking about her.

Close to midnight, after most of the gunpowderisque contraceptions were set off, she gave me a call to wish me a happy new year and a happy valentine’s. Though we had been just apart for a couple of days, it felt like it had been so much longer. Didn’t expect myself to miss her so much; it’s odd; it’s like falling in love all over again.

Focus IT Investment on Training in 2010

I read with interest an article in the magazine “business minds” emphasising  the  importance of IT investment, and how the tough economic climate has been forcing companies to cut their IT spending. It reported that  small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are the worst off, with their already lean budgets being squeezed even tighter. I agreed on the most part what the article was about, that IT investment was important and that even in a tough economic climate we shouldn’t cut back on it too much;  but I found  it perplexing that the article stressed only one type of IT investment, and that it was of hardware (note: the article used IT hardware interchangeably with computer hardware — we could talk about smart phones, scanning machines and the like, but it’d be beyond the scope of this post).

Don’t get me wrong. I love powerful IT hardware as much as any other person. I believe it’s necessary that a business has hardware that is at least powerful enough to support basic MS Office programs (or its alternatives, including the wonderful Google Docs and Open Office) without any noticeable performance lag, but it seems a tad incongruent to talk about investing in IT hardware when IT investment budgets are cut, since hardware is arguably the least likely to be needing investment.

Most computer systems used by businesses nowadays, no matter how rudimentary, are able to run basic Office applications without a hitch. Though years ago it might have been the case that impotent hardware could often be used as the scapegoat for computing inefficiencies (I’m sure you know of executives running reports that would take hours to process), computing power nowadays has pretty much made these problems history (with the exception of reports based on processing extremely large amounts of data — and even then this may be avoided through proper use of technology, which may be gained through investment in IT training and education as you’ll read below).

Hardware performance has increased at a much faster rate than software requirements has, especially for most applications around the office that require the bare minimum to run pretty smoothly (the proliferation of netbooks, which are basically low-performance notebook computers, is testimony to this fact).

The problem, I believe, is that not enough people know about how to use IT to help them in their daily work. Investment should be made to educate the workforce on what IT can do, and how to use IT to its full potential. Businesses can use up a large chunk of their IT budget purchasing the MS Office suite (or any other “office” software, really), only to make use of 5% of its capabilities, missing out on plenty of opportunities to speed up tons of tedious, manual processes that could save days per month, especially through things like automation (it is a sad fact that automation is severely underrated in many businesses, to which automation is an alien term — most IT professionals understand what a boon it is to productivity).

IT spending should be spent on IT training and education, and not on hardware unless absolutely necessary. Often, it is only after learning more about IT that businesses can properly determine their IT needs, including hardware. Encouraging SMBs to spend more on getting better IT hardware is like asking a non-driver to buy a more powerful car — sure, the potential to move faster is there, but it’s not going to be of much use until the non-driver learns to drive.

Office Camouflage

And the looking at her looking a little stressed, I sent the future missus a link to what I thought was a pretty funny video/gif on camouflaging in the office.

Soon after I sent her the link, she said to me, “Ooh, office camouflage. I like do this! I like to camouflage in the office!” I immediately starting picturing her in the above video, and couldn’t help but laugh!

Increment or Not?

This month will be the month I find out if I’ll have a salary increment. I told the future missus that if I didn’t get one, I’ll be looking for another job. I don’t know if I will though. I enjoy what I’m doing, and it doesn’t take up too much of my time (overtime’s an occasional occurrence but not too frequent). The boss is great; my other colleagues amiable and easy-going. And as far as I can tell, politics and power plays are rare, and non-existent at my level. The opportunity costs of getting another job, even if it provides a higher monthly monetary return is debatable. But still, I want more.