Sunday, October 30, 2005

a day of lasts

  1. quite unexpectedly, today was the last day our church meetings will be held at the current place/time. we've been forced to move again, less than 18 months after our last move. thankfully this time isn't to do with politics and people issues, and i'm hoping the change will be good. the building we were renting has to have some repairs done, so it's unavailable for hire until early next year. funnily enough our temporary home will be the place where the southside congregation started out back in the day - i remember going there during my high school years!

  2. it could also represent the last time i'll have to wake up early sunday mornings, seeing as we're moving to an afternoon timeslot which will mean i can sleep in. perhaps it's a sad indictment that the extra sleep is the first thing that i think of... :p however i think i'll actually take advantage of the opportunity to do a spot of visiting - it's something that came up in conversation with accc last week, and now i can do so without risking any guilt/conscience issues for skipping out on my regular church :)

  3. the afternoon saw me attend the last bible study for the year for yf, and it struck me that it's shaping up to be my last one ever. was reminded of this by the fact that other people are leaving/won't be around next year... and i'm about to bow out as well, for the second time. it's not quite the same as 5 years ago, when i was about to enter my (semi-)retirement from yf... i'm a different person, at a different stage of life, yf itself is different now, and besides which i really can't remember how/what i was thinking/feeling about all this, half a decade ago! funnily enough i'm planning to return to clay next year (it's something i've tried to do this year but have been mostly unable to, due to clashing commitments), and 5 years ago i left yf to move to clay... did anyone just notice two identical black cats passing by??
it's been a strange sort of day because of the above realisations, and also because of what happened at church this morning. we had an evangelistic service with a guest speaker. i wasn't expecting much... mostly because some of the speakers in the past haven't really preached the gospel at all. there was good engagement with the congregation, and use of technology/multimedia to drive home the message, the actual details of which i struggle to recall. before i was done thinking "what did he actually say??" it was time to get back up to sing "you loved me" (quite appropriate/fitting lyrics). and as i stood there, after pastor made the altar call/invitation to respond, and sang this song, and saw people coming up with tears in their eyes, something hit me and i started getting a bit teary too. now i'm fairly certain i'm not a sympathetic crier, but honestly i have no idea what prompted my tears.
  • was it because i was moved by the message? no, because i can't even remember much of its content...
  • was it because i was moved by the people's response? (there were other people in the congregation crying as well) i don't think so, since i can't be sure whether they were responding to the gospel - if i had consciously registered that the good news had been faithfully preached, and that the Spirit had moved people to repentance and faith, then that would certainly be a cause for rejoicing... but since i can't remember much of what was actually said...
  • was it because i was moved by the song? i don't know, i've liked the song since i first learnt it in kylc some years back, but it's never had this sort of impact... although this would not be the first time that singing a familiar song has produced an unexpected result.
i suppose emotions can't always be logically analysed and "explained", though there is still something niggly about the cause/trigger for my own tears... maybe it was just something that struck/affected me at a sub-conscious level. is that, too, a cause for concern??

Saturday, October 29, 2005

spoke too soon...

isn't it always the way? you speak words which come back to be eaten...

my experience with the new router dropped far, far below any semblance of plug 'n' play, after i actually plugged in a phone to start using voip. to be fair, after a whole lot of trialling and testing, plus reading the whirlpool forums to see other people's experiences with similar products, i'm quite convinced that the problem isn't so much with the router (tho it's still taking upwards of 15 minutes to achieve line sync under certain conditions) as it is with the supplied belkin splitter - quite the dodgy piece of hardware, and source of much head-scratching and wasted time. am now running with a substitute setup to emulate the splitter functionality (good thing i had some gear that i prepared earlier), and this is running with a lot more stability. wonder whether my splitter will get replaced with something that actually works properly... wait and see how customer support respond to my email.

meanwhile the boys piled into my not-much-room of a room after BSL last night to view some of the oddness to be found on google video. one of these being a clip of two asian dudes miming along to the backstreet boys' i want it that way - pretty stupid but funny viewing, better than their first effort, and inspiring a female duo copycat with a spice girls number, an effort which doesn't even come close... wonder if these boys got their inspiration from the korean chin2 lads?!

oh and i can't talk about strange videos without going past the lord of the tight pants from kollaboration 2002. one of the guys found this online and we re-enacted it as part of the entertainment for our youth group's sister's night earlier this year. it was one of the silliest but funniest things i've been a part of, and quite a good workout at that ;) here's a shot of some of us in action...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

the band just got broader :)

my broadband, that is...

goodbye ASSL1, hello brand spanking new belkin ADSL2+ modem/router with wifi and voip! here it is sitting on top of my old d-link router, and with an old phone plugged in to test voip.

been waiting a few weeks for confirmation of reduced pricing on this hardware for existing customers, and i'm happy to say that my isp came through in rewarding loyalty with an $80 discount. even though i'd waited some time for the hardware, the unit sat around for a few days before i got around to installing it. was supposed have my weekly meet with noodlez, but that became a drive to quest for ice-cream, which turned into some pearl milk tea (i decided to try "barley" flavour, which wasn't too bad...) anyways we ended up back at my place to play with the new toy.

i'm impressed - it got here within 4 days of ordering, and came pre-configured for my account. except for the rather sparse documentation and the unexpectedly longer times to retrain/sync the connection (and how the router reboots for almost every configuration change), it was essentially a plug and play experience. after hooking up the wired connections, i got out my pda and we went for a walk down the street, travelling about 3 houses down before the wireless signal got out of range. also did a quick test of the voip functionality, but will have to do the changeover of the main house phones another time to start taking advantage of the lower call rates.

so what can i do with all this speed (currently getting 5Mbps+ download and just under 1Mbps upload) at my disposal? how bout some sermon podcasting? hmmm... if only i could listen as quickly as i can download! :p

Saturday, October 22, 2005

speaking of singapore...

two brushes with whispers of singapore today:
  1. while hanging out with the ACCC, found out that they're looking to do a STEP program next year, possibly on board the Doulos, which could involve singapore being one of the ports... made me wonder if i should look into that too, as i had previously considered visiting the doulos before my friends and supportees finish their term in december, but that was before family commitments required my leave to be used for other purposes (funnily enough, to go to singapore!). going on STEP with at least (the comfort of knowing there are) some people i know could be an option... and i have been mulling over doing some form of short term trip next year... so could this be a tap on the shoulders? or am i just being drawn to the prospect of combining service and play (not that they're necessarily mutually exclusive) with the mention of that country? anyways, although i have access to up to an additional 8 weeks of purchased leave, i might not be able to arrange to take it at the right time, especially if i stay in my current role, for the STEP dates may land smack bang in the midst of our busy season of the year. all of which makes the fact that i forgot to send off a job application for an internal transfer to a different section (which should be more flexible with leave timings), due by COB yesterday, all the more D'OH! will have to try for a late submission first thing monday, and leave the opening of doors for God to handle.
  2. went to a meeting tonight where pastor chris chia from singapore's arpc was the guest speaker - it was supposed to be for the CiA youth group, but there were quite a few parents and other visitors like myself also present. though i had somewhat met him on his last two visits to our church, and might have been greeted by him upon entering the hall for morning service when i visited arpc last month, tonight was probably the first time we had exchanged words sufficient to pass for conversation. of course, he didn't remember me from the recordings and questioning during his previous talks here... not that i expected him to :p it was good of him to take time out of his holidays to "work", and i hope the words spoken helps to bear fruit in the lives of the listeners.

Friday, October 21, 2005

everybody's leaving town

seems that a lot of people will be away at various stages during the summer holidays. all the more reason to be seeking out my own fun, i say :p

i'm rekindling my love affair with the straits nations and returning there for my third visit within 16 months come my summer break in about two months' time. this time the primary reason is to attend (yet) another wedding dinner in KL, and of course i'll be tacking on things like the visiting of other friends in KL and SG, the eating of fine local fare, and whatever other happenings in which i can manage to involve myself... including hopefully capturing some more nice nightscapes like the one below :)

oh ok so it's not *really* a love affair - i just said that to make it sound more exotic ;) but this trip is currently shaping up to be a lot less planned than my previous ones. i decided on a whim to make the trek because i could (thanks to public service holidays on top of the standard public holidays, i get a whole week and a bit off without needing to make a dent in my annual leave account), and it sounded like a crazy enough idea to fly 8 hours to attend a wedding where i won't know a single soul. that's except the bride, whom i've never met. who says i'm not adventurous, eh? hehe.

so far, the dinner is the only thing actually on the itinerary. the rest is a big blank. i'm sure something will work itself out between now and then... i'm not sure when i became this carefree - usually i'd be a lot more particular about the particulars. maybe i've just lost the will to be bothered any longer.

maybe i *should* just leave everything to the last minute. having booked my tickets two weeks ago (buying direct from the airline worked out to be cheaper than going through any travel agent/ticketing agent) on a sale and bonus (frequent flyer) points promotion, they've now brought out another sale with even more bonus points, which i could have had for ~$2 more if only i wanted two weeks. how was i to know right? will have sufficient points by the end of this trip to be upgraded to an elite silver membership in krisflyer, which sounds rather grand and previously thought to be out of my travelling reaches... and would be nice except i'll probably not have a chance to use it before it expires.

but... like the last few times when i've been in singapore and said/thought: gee i don't know if/when i'll ever be back here again... i guess i should learn to never say never :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

then there was light

it was an eerie feeling driving through a few blacked out suburbs - no house lights, no street lights, no traffic lights. only some moon light and the headlights from other vehicles caught in traffic and jams. there were people directing at the major intersections - they had no/barely visible lights, no reflective gear... better than nothing though. i decided to forego the right hand turn towards the church, an intersection that had no such assistance, and which has bad visibility at the best of times. went the long way to double back courtesy of a roundabout, and joined with the rest of the CWMC folk to ponder our options in the glow of the tea candles supplied by renai. we were already running late, and could either make the trek to an alternate location and start even later, or postpone the session. i personally was not keen on the implication of option 2, which would mean 5 hours worth of back to back sessions on top of an already full sunday. but that's where the majority leant, so...

then just as we had reached a decision, the lights came on! what timing :)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

when daydreams turn sour

i don't know if i have an overactive imagination, but on my good days i certainly think i could mount a pretty strong case for such an argument. by good i mean the days when said imagination is being particularly active. it has a tendency to distract me from what i need/ought to be doing, and sometimes in keeping me awake, even creeping into my real dreams (ie the ones you have when you are asleep) on the odd occasion.

the subject matters vary, but the topic of romance is a definite 常客. not that daydreaming, or romance, in and of themselves are bad/unhelpful things, but i am aware of my soft spot for the odd rom(-com) movie... and knowing that the problem of romance is something that girls (generally speaking) find greater struggels with, to the point of it venturing into "female porn" territory... i can't help but wonder whether someone affected by both physical and emotional stimuli is a particularly rare and wretched creature, doubly cursed...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

the strength of this course is in the reading

so reiterated our facilitator at the conclusion of the first session of CWMC (condensed world missions course) currently being run at church. heard about the course two sundays ago, and was mildly interested but non-committal. then last week an old school mate of mine suddenly told me he had quit his job overseas and was moving back to aus, and will have some time up his sleeve being unemployed. his situation bore some similarities to mine a few years ago when i quit my job, went on a short term missions trip, and was unemployed after that for some time (much longer than i initially intended!). anyways, he asked me for some input as to what he could do with his time... his pastor also suggested for him to take advantage of the opportunity to go on a STM, something i encourage wholeheartedly - esp. since getting decent blocks of time off is so much harder to arrange once you are in the workforce.

the course is being run primarily for those in my church who are taking part in a YWAM Christmas Outreach program in dec this year, as part of their preparations. but it's open for other ppl to attend as well, and through that encounter with my friend i was reminded that i need to not let missions take such a "back seat" in my life/mind. hence the decision to commit to attending the course. after all, with a promise that it will change my life (or my money back), who could resist? ;)

so anyways, i've just added even more reading to do, on top of my already overflowing backlog...

at least it's for good/noble purposes huh? have stopped watching grey's anatomy and alias, which frees up 3hrs of my week. this will give me more time to read (though my efficiency in using this time remains to be seen...), and will also help fight against the "poison of pre-packaged entertainment", as spoken about in this article (which is actually about the place of children's literature in education, but read the quote and i think you'll see the principle):
Prepackaged entertainment poisons the wells of learning; it dulls our faculty for receiving and appreciating art and literature. Each of us knows the lyrics to a thousand pop songs; but how many poems do we know by heart? The radio has made us deaf to the music of poetry. To spend one's free time reveling in popular music, watching television, and going to the movies, and then to attempt to read Shakespeare for a class assignment — this is an exercise in futility. It is akin to drinking Coke all day, while intermittently attempting to develop a taste for fine wine. Like the palate, the mind must be cleansed if we are to develop good taste.
which got me thinking... how relevant is this idea to the reading of the Bible and other good Christian literature? (these being the "poetry", the "Shakespeare", the "fine wine"etc of a Christian's life)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

the journey of 10000 steps...

begins with the first.

my workplace is participating in the 10000 steps challenge, and i have joined a team at work. went and bought myself a pedometer and i'm now counting my steps :) don't think i'll quite hit that 10000 per day mark though, even with my walking to and from work.

funny to think that less than a week ago i was seriously thinking about giving up this walking thing. been walking to/from work for the past 5 months, and it's been ok in the cooler weather. now that it's warming up though, i'm not liking the idea (which turns into reality all too often) of arriving at work on the wrong side of hot and sweaty. plus i've never been keen on exposing myself to the sun too much - and my ~25 min walks is definitely a much higher continuous dosage of UV than i'm happy with. so i was tossing up options like
  • starting later so i can drive and park in the adjacent shopping centre once their general parking areas are open (which some people do, but technically we're not supposed to...), or
  • borrowing access to the shopping centre's staff car park, or
  • starting and leaving home much earlier to get a spot in the car park at work (tossed this option cos i value my sleep too much to wake up any earlier, esp. seeing as i never get enough as it is), or
  • go back to paying for nearby parking (the kind my conscience need not worry about :p), or
  • starting a bit later to better time the local bus - the one that only comes once in a while, and whose punctuality can't be relied on even though it's at the start of the route! so by the time i wander to the bus stop, spend my time waiting, and finally get to my stop... i pretty much may as well have walked the whole way and saved myself $2
so, essentially it boils down to: what price my physical comfort?

anyhow, now that i'm doing this steps thing, i guess i'll stick to walking. and since i always carry an umbrella in my bag, i suppose i could use it for shade as well as shelter from rain. it's just that i can't stop the pictures in my mind of me strolling with a parasol... *shudder*

another thing i can't get out of my head in relation to this emphasis on walking is the song 500 miles - originally by the proclaimers, and covered by steven curtis chapman on his "all about love" album. it's not a song that i'd have thought belongs on a "christian" album about love, but MB's (SCC's wife) comments in the liner notes sheds new light on its lyrics:
... it celebrates in such a fun way what I know to be true of our commitment to each other. What a wonderful gift it is to know in confidence that the man I'm married to is the man who will be "growing old with me".

Sunday, October 09, 2005

beautiful saviour

while battling to stay awake and alert at BSL on friday night, tekken posed a question about ephesians 4:18, which says that the Gentiles "are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart." a dilemma is reached when we also consider romans 12:2, which tells us to "not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind".

in short: how can the alienated person ever reach the stage of renewing their mind when it's the hard heart which causes the ignorance in the first place?

maybe it's because i wasn't following as lucidly as i should have been, so it took me a few moments to go from "so what?" to "oh yeah... that's a BIG problem! hmm... good question!"

i pondered the impasse awhile, before the solution dawned on me from way back in ezekiel 36:26, where God, as part of his promise to act for the sake of vindicating his holy name, promises Israel thus: "I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."

a new heart of flesh to replace the old hardened heart of stone! and it's indeed the wonder of the mystery of the gospel, "that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel." (ephesians 3:6)

this thought and reminder of God's graciousness in dealing with humanity... in dealing with me... has been in my mind all weekend, and i was glad to be met in church with these words from our song of the month. oh what a beautiful saviour we have!
All my days I will sing this song of gladness,
Give my praise to the Fountain of delights;
For in my helplessness You heard my cry,
And waves of mercy poured down on my life.
maranatha, hallelujah, amen!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

now in 5.1 channels!

these are the speakers i lugged back from sydney in my bag ~1.5 months ago, and which have been sitting around waiting for me to hook up. that day was today. it's a cheapie brand and most of the connecting wires turned out to be too short for me to place the various bits and pieces where i originally intended. but they were free (thanks to sandk), and so after a bit of rearrangement i have a workable setup. gave it a quick test with a couple of dvds i have, and they're a marked improvement over my previous 2.0 gig (which speakers are now used for the sound from the VCR) :D

what a perfect excuse to go and rent some dvds, hehe.

also did a bit of blogger hacking today and implemented a few tweaks. even though the instructions were pretty useful, i still had trouble with the inline comments, eventually tracing the problem to a code snippet placement issue. just serves to confirm that i'd never cut it as a coder, so i'm glad there's folks a-plenty out there with code-friendlier brains than i, who have been kind enough to share their wisdom.

all in all, a mildly sense-of-achievement-inducing day :)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

a visit to chicago's

not the city across the ocean (i wished!), but a local eatery by the name of chicago's piano bar & grill. i'm not actually sure if the piano in the picture is a real one... but i thought the dancing blues brothers figures on top were kinda cute :) this is where i lunched today with an old friend, and my verdict is that the food was ok but overpriced at double digits for burgers and fries. maybe it would have been better at night with some live entertainment. might consider trying something else from their menu another time... when there's some music happening :p

after lunch i wandered around the shops a bit to do a spot of window shopping - something i haven't done for a while. also went to an ATM to withdraw some money. that might seem too insignificant a thing to blog about, but the last time i got cash from an ATM was more than 2 years ago!

then i dropped into my previous workplace to say g'day to some of the folks there. a lot of things haven't changed, and i'm glad it's not something i need to worry about any longer. might use my next flex day to do lunch with my old teammates.

ok time to see if i can claim some more $$ from mr tax man...

speedreader i am not

i remember getting flyers for speedreading courses when i was in uni. never could be bothered forking out the $$ to up my reading speed, and always a bit skeptical about being able to comprehend/retain information when reading at high speeds. sometimes i wished i had the skills...

there's too much to read and not enough time to read it all. maybe i need to be a lot more selective. just like when i got a bit excited about a recent discovery (from which i decided to follow the blog of a person who i actually saw in real life a week or so later), tonight i've clicked my way to singapore and a bunch of christian bloggers there... the trail i followed (aka stuff i want to read, but not so fast that it goes in one eye and out the other!):
  • gracenotworks (new "issue" just released)
  • christ hacks (see here for explanation of what this is -- cool idea what)
  • associated material from christ hack's contributors, eg. singapore living, which looks like it has some good stuff to explore before my next visit to the island nation (but err... i'm from an island nation too...)
meanwhile i think i'll go ahead with the 30 days of prayer during ramadan, which kicks off today. hmm... that actually seems like a good idea/contribution for christ hacks, might try and get a submission in :p

- - - - -

work bites. days are long. breaks are few and running on bare minimum. i want out of peak. badly.

but i did have the pleasure of telling one client today that they are getting a small refund instead of a bill for a few hundred dollars, because two weeks ago something they said triggered a suspicion in my mind which i've been following up, and this eventually resulted in an amendment done to correct an error and making their day. they remembered me, and thanked me for doing my job well. i guess, after all, that is what i'm getting paid to do.

still, i'm glad i don't have to go to work tomorrow - the joys of flex time :) i'm going to sleep in, have a lazy morning, hopefully meet some friends (visiting from overseas, but rather busy/packed schedule wise) for lunch, and set up the 5.1 speakers i lugged back from sydney more than a month ago. but i should probably take care of doing my tax return before indulging in too much play...

- - - - -

p.s. yeah... 90 mins later i'm still up... adding a "small world" update -- just discovered that one of christ hack's contributors seems to be friends with a guy who i knew from church here (when he was here for uni). shouldn't be too surprised cos i'm pretty sure they all go to the same church in sg. ok head starting to hurt. must sleep before i find even more things to add to my reading list!

Monday, October 03, 2005

watching grass grow

i generally like the few chinese music CDs i own. my "most wanted 2001" double album from sony music took badly to living in my CD wallet in the car some years back, they've never quite looked or played the same. hoping it was just a dirty surface, i decided to try resurrect them by giving the surfaces a bit of a clean/wash. inspired by a spot of googling for tips (and getting some conflicting advice!), i employed a tag-team combination of listerine mouth wash and soap resulting in two shiny and fairly promising looking discs. disc #1 passed a play test perfectly, so i was expecting similar results for disc #2. unfortunately looks were deceiving and this disc was causing all sorts of problems for the two drives i tested it on. another wash followed, with similar results. even EAC is struggling - would you classify 4.4% of one track (about 12 seconds of audio) read in 90-odd minutes a bit of a snail's pace? now i'm beginning to suspect that the damage goes deeper, and i may never be able to listen to these songs again. shucks...

so i actually spent a good part of my evening listeing to the best of electric light orchestra, while reading through the instruction manual for my new tough solar pathfinder watch by casio, which arrived in the mail today. it's been some two years since i first considered getting a tough solar watch, and thanks to ebay, this journey is over :) it's not actually a g-shock, which i think i would have ideally liked, but then again i don't exactly expose my watches to the sort of treatment that necessitates g-shock protection. i loved the solar power and the idea of the full auto light feature, but can see how the novelty (and perhaps usefulness?) of it can wear off very quickly :p the other features such as tidal graph, moon phase and bearing function (which i'll have to try out one day), which interesting, will probably see very little productive use also... anyways, i am satisfied with the purchase (only ~60% of what my original g-shock cost). only thing is, why can't the light stay on for more than ~1second? surely it couldn't have been that difficult to have the light stay on as long as you kept the light button depressed?? i think that would have been more useful than knowing tide times...