Helping Strangers

February 11, 2010 Leave a comment

How shy are you to help strangers?

Today while I was cycling to the college to take photos of the sunset, I came across this couple whose car tire had blown. The damage was pretty bad, I could see the tear on the tire, the rim was dented, and the wheel cover was missing. I had actually seen the wheel cover somewhere along the way, but I had kept quiet and continued snapping photos.

That was until the guy asked me for help. He had removed the spare tire, but he couldn’t get the car jack out of its mounting, and he was wondering if I could give him a hand. It was only then that I told him that I saw the wheel cover at the side of the road earlier near a construction site. The car probably hit one of the construction blocks somewhere along the way.

As I know nuts about automotive, I could only apologize and tell him that I couldn’t really help him. I continued snapping photos, as the girlfriend walked to the nearby Sunset Grill restaurant, presumably to ask for help.

I wished him all the best, and I went on to the college. I took more photos, and on my way back, I saw the girlfriend walking all the way to the other end of the road, where the car hit the block, to retrieve the wheel cover.

As I cycled back, I felt guilty and disappointed in myself as I felt that I could somehow at least offer them some form of a help. For those not in the know, Seletar can be quite inaccessible, and walking in or out is very inconvenient. As I was riding a bicycle, it wouldn’t be too hard for me to go and retrieve the wheel cover for them, or to go to Sunset Grill to, maybe, borrow a car jack from the owner of the restaurant.

At the very least, even if I couldn’t help them, the gesture would have been nice. Even a simple “Do you need any help?” would do. It was too easy for me to reason out that I shouldn’t be too kaypoh (busybody) about another person’s business, and that even if I offered my help, he might just reject it. But thinking about it again, I realised that sometimes I’m just too shy to be bold and offer some form of help.

The next time I encounter myself in a similar situation, I’ll try to offer some help. Maybe by being nice to strangers, people will be nice to me too. 😛

Categories: Uncategorized

Of Lifelong Friendships

February 11, 2010 Leave a comment

I was reading the latest post on Niniane Wang’s blog about her losing her best friend. I couldn’t help but feel sad for her, as she had thought that they would be lifelong friends.

Now, I don’t know Niniane personally. Neither am I saying that I fully understand the situation that they’re facing. In fact, I only came across her blog while searching for easter eggs in Google services.

Niniane Kicks Ass

Niniane is a former engineer in Google. In her website, she wrote that she had a little bet in the year 2000 with his Caltech friend, Dan. The bet was trivial, it was about interpreting a drawing in a cafe. Whoever won that bet would have the other’s name hidden in whatever products they were working on next. She won and Dan’s next project happened to be Google Maps, and for a time her name directed searchers to Google’s headquarters–if you made the search before 2009, as the easter egg has already been removed since then.

To cut a long story short, it appears that the two have fallen out. They had been friends for half of her lifetime, and what they had thought to be a lifelong friendship is, after all, not permanent, and she felt sad and angry about it.

Which makes me think about the notion of lifelong friendships. Is there really such thing as a lifelong friendship? Can two different people meet, realise that they have something in common (or maybe not so much in common, and they simply enjoy each other’s company), decide to become good friends until their dying day, and really live up to it?

I’ve lost count of the number of good friends that I’ve made and lost throughout my life. Usually the cause is as simple as a change of school or location and we simply drift apart. I can accept this, as people always change. Even I change.

But some are due to other reasons such as a misunderstanding or an argument. Yet others have no reasons that are explicable. These usually bug me, because for one, I’m a peaceful person who hates conflicts, and for another, I’m also a person who tries to understand everything in his life, and having something which I can’t explain just annoys my mind to no end.

Anyway, I guess what we all should really do is to treasure all the friends we have, no matter how close we are or how much we trust that person or how we always say that we will be friends till our dying day.

The next thing we know, they could just be gone.

Categories: Life, Personal Tags: ,

It Was All Crap

December 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Have you ever written or blogged about something, spent a lot of time checking the grammar and expressions, taken an effort to pepper it with photos and other multimedia contents, but at the end of it all you re-read everything you have written a couple of times and decided that it was all crap and thrashed the whole thing?

Well, it just happened to me. 😛

I shall try to write a more-proper post soon!

Categories: Blog, Random Tags:

Fly… High… Up In The Sky…

December 27, 2009 2 comments

I remember my very first flight, although I don’t remember the exact details of it. It was a flight from Jakarta to the South Sumatran city of Palembang, back in the early or mid-1990s. I can’t recall which airline it was, nor can I remember the aircraft type.

In fact my knowledge about flying was so limited that I thought runways end with a jump ramp, just like the ones that motorcycle jumping daredevils use, where the aircraft will finally take off and travel in a straight line before it (hopefully) lands at the other airport.

Motorcycle Jumping

Motorcycle Jumping, taken from BigLorryBlog. Check out BigLorryBlog if you’re into big lorries, the blog itself looks pretty awesome!

Of course, now I know enough that airplanes don’t take off that way, and that it relies on a set of navigational systems and aids in order to reach their destinations safely.

In fact, my interest in flying only took off (pun fully intended) when I started playing Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 on my crappy Compaq Evo N800v. I remember sitting inside the virtual Cessna 172 Skyhawk, listening to instructions from the virtual instructor Rod Machado, as he guided me through the basics of flight controls, which I duly followed using my laptop keyboard–hardly realistic at all.

And I thought it was cool.

And cool it was, until I had the privilege of finally realising the experience on a Cessna 152 as part of the flight training with the company earlier this year.

No doubt that over the years, I’ve improved on my virtual flying skills so much that I no longer land a 747 on the taxiway instead of the runway, and that I’ve made the virtual experience as real as possible by buying a flight yoke and rudder system, but nothing beats cruising in a real airplane at 6,000 feet in the air over Sembawang airbase, looking out into the distance at Bukit Timah hill and trying to answer the instructor’s question of where the boundaries of Area B of the Light Aircraft Training Area is.

Or the thrill of taking off and landing the airplane on my own, with the instructor only taking over when he deems that it is unsafe for me to do so.

Or the adrenaline rush as the instructor conducts a “fan stop”, a simulated engine failure procedure just after take off, where the throttle of the aircraft is closed fully, and I had to quickly establish the aircraft on a glide attitude, choose a landing spot, simulate cutting off the fuel flow into the engines, adjust flaps, and simulate opening the door and cutting electrical supplies as the club house and the trees in the neighbouring golf course looms closer.

The best thing that I had experienced must have been the solo flight, where over the 10 minutes I was on my own in the aircraft, with no instructor next to me. I had to communicate with the air traffic controller, taxi the aircraft, take off, make a round in the airport’s circuit pattern, and then land and taxi back to the parking spot, all on my own.

It was 19 October 2009, and it was the second last time that I had touched an aircraft’s controls. My last flight was the following day, when I finally reached the quota for flights here in Singapore. My next flight will be in Australia next year.

It’s been 68 days since then, and I’ve started to miss flying already. I still “fly” from time to time on the flight simulator, but nothing beats the real thing. But with my time being taken up by the exam preparation, I suppose that too will have to take a back seat for now.

Leonardo da Vinci once said: “For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.”

He’s absolutely right.

Before I end this post, check out this video that I found on YouTube. I remember watching it as a kid, and the song kind of got stuck in my head until now.

Goofy’s Glider

Merry Christmas

December 26, 2009 2 comments

Just a quick note to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

I’m not exactly in a celebratory mood this time due to work and all, so I spent Christmas eve taking night photos using my newly-bought DSLR, and spent Christmas tidying up (however slightly) my house.

Speaking of which, I finally got myself a Nikon D90, and I love it! I’ve read the manual from cover to cover, and realised that it’s so much more than I had expected when I was doing my research. I hope to develop my photography hobby further, especially now that I’m no longer tied to the limitations of film.

Nikon D90

Nikon D90, taken from Nikon Singapore

And speaking of photography, have a look at the photos I took at Little Guilin the other day.

Little Guilin

Little Guilin

Also in the first part of the reel of film (something which I can do without from now on) were some shots I took at Orchard Road a while back.

ION Orchard by night

ION Orchard by night

KenRockwell.com

December 13, 2009 6 comments

Whilst I was searching for a nice DSLR to get, I came across a website by a guy named Ken Rockwell. What is amazing is his reviews on Nikon cameras and lenses. He even has old Nikon equipments that he reviews.

I would take this as just another review site, but there are other goodies that he provides in the website. The website is almost like an encyclopaedia of cameras and lenses!

He has, for example, explanations on the DX format, something which is new for digital SLRs. But the most useful pages I’ve seen must have been the Nikon system compatibility page and the lens compatibility chart, which is almost like a short history lesson on Nikon lenses. Now I know that if I were to get the D5000 I was eyeing for, I won’t be able to autofocus using my current AF lenses. I love his example of pairing a 1969 Nikon F with current 17-35mm AF-S lens.

A 1969 Nikon F with current 17-35mm AF-S lens

A 1969 Nikon F with current 17-35mm AF-S lens, from KenRockwell.com

On another note, after looking through a lot of websites, I’m really thinking of getting the Nikon D90 soon. It seems to be getting good reviews, and the fact that I can use my current lenses (I have a 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6 G AF and a 70-300mm f/4-5.6 G AF, both of which apparently have been rated as two of the best cheapest Nikon lenses) is a bonus, although the combination will probably look Frankenstein-ish as the camera body is black and my current lenses are silver.

Categories: Photography Tags: , , ,

Frustrated

December 12, 2009 Leave a comment

After some tiring weekends of dealing with people, I planned to have some well-deserved me-time this weekend. The plan was to go to the nearby park and take photos of the Little Guilin, and then have it developed by tomorrow. After reading up on the golden hour, I was itching to apply it in practise.

Bangkok during the golden hour

Bangkok during the golden hour, by Diliff

What happened was that I woke up at 4.30 pm, which was fine, not too late. After quickly washing up and chatting with some friends online, I set off for the park, reaching by 5.30 pm.

Little Guilin

Little Guilin, by mailer_diablo

I’ve been using the film Nikon F55 for a couple of years now, and so far it has not given me any problems whatsoever. Today was no different, everything went well, except that the sky wasn’t as nice as I wanted it to be, but well, noone can control the weather, isn’t it?

I had no intention on switching to a DSLR, as the frequency of my taking photos is not high enough so as to warrant the necessity of upgrading. Anyway, there’s a conveniently nearby photo lab that can process my film within 24 hours.

I finished the roll of the Fujifilm 200 by 7 pm, and left for Botak Jones for a medium ribeye steak dinner that I’ve been craving for. I also added the shit mushroom garlic sautéed shiitake mushroom, which was not too bad.

That was the end of the better part of the day. I went to Singapore Colour Centre in West Mall to get my film developed. I’ve been patronizing this shop for more than a year now, and everytime I just need to say “develop, scan to CD” and they’ll reply with “Ok, come back tomorrow afternoon!”.

But today, the reply was “come back in 3 working days”. I was puzzled and asked for clarification. It turned out that they don’t have the processing machine anymore, and have to send the film to their processing centre to get it developed. The thing is that I won’t even be at home on the weekdays, so I would have to practically wait for a full week before seeing my photos. I cancelled the development and instead went out on a search for a photo lab that can still do film development.

What added to the frustration were a couple of things…

First I decided to drop a message on Plurk and Facebook to ask if anyone knows of a decent photo lab in the area. Plurk’s mobile interface has changed a lot and it doesn’t work well on my mobile phone. It was a matter of guesswork to decide whether the link I’m clicking is for mute or view responses. In any case, noone seemed to know one.

I then went to gothere.sg on my mobile phone, and soon realised that the mobile version doesn’t support searching for places around an area. So I went ahead and used my iPod touch to check the full version of gothere.sg. To my horror, it now automatically redirects to sneak.gothere.sg, which doesn’t support the iPod touch’s Safari browser.

I then called and messaged a couple of friends, and they either don’t reply or pick up the call, are outside, are using another unsupported browser, or report an error when using gothere.sg.

I spent a good one hour walking aimlessly around the area, not even finding a photo lab at all. It seems like it’s gonna be the end of film era really soon…

So here I am at the end of the day, having a bunch of photographs locked in the roll of Fujifilm 200. I only hope that some shop somewhere near Jalan Kayu (where I’m based on weekdays) can process the film, otherwise I’m really going to have to wait for a week before seeing my photos.

***

The incident got me thinking though. I’ve been holding off buying a DSLR for a little while now. The reasons are manifold.

First, like I said earlier, I don’t take photos frequently enough to warrant an upgrade to a DSLR. Therefore the break-even point for buying a DSLR is going to be reached only after a pretty long time, which may not be a worthy investment.

Secondly, also related to money, DSLR do not come cheap. With my current monthly income being sub-1k, and rent and food using up the majority share of that income, I only have my meagre one-year-of-work savings to fall back on. In fact, my monthly cash flow since I started in this line has been negative. I would rather save what is left of my savings for rainy days.

Thirdly, so far it has been convenient to develop my film shots, having a photo lab near my house. Obviously, this is not the case from now on.

But what happened today changed a couple of those.

Firstly, I’ll be leaving for Australia soon (within the next 3 months) for flight training, and no doubt there’ll be times when I’ll be travelling around the area. It’ll be nice to have a DSLR that I can use to take some photos with.

Secondly, while I’m not sure of the actual case, my spending in Australia might be lower, with no rent to deal with. That should leave me with a bit more time before my savings are all used up.

Thirdly… Film seems to be dying, with less and less photo labs offering development of film.

All these got me thinking, is it time for me to get a DSLR after all? What’s a good value-for-money DSLR to start with, taking into account that I’ve been shooting using a film SLR for a while now?

Any inputs will be appreciated!

Frustrated,
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