Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Motto of the Day

"Your incompetence does not dictate my sense of urgency."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ahrrrr Maties!

It be International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Avast ye landlubbers!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Shameless Emotional Manipulation

The last thing I'd expect from a computer game.

Elite Beat Agents is the Nintendo DS Lite version of Dance Dance Revolution. They give you a song, and make you tap the beat out in a stylus. The storyline (if you can call it one) is that you're an agent that uses the music to inspire people in need. For most part, the scenarios they give in Elite Beat Agents is kinda kooky - there's a particularly hilarious one where the scenario is an obvious parody of Paris and Nicole stranded on a deserted island.

There is one in particular that stands out, and here it is.

I is a beeg sucker for sob stories. I was practically swearing by the end of the intro to complete this scenario no matter what.

I finished it in 15 minutes of course, so I thought I'd share it with you guys. The video is obviously not me, but something I found on youtube.

Monday, September 17, 2007

There Comes A Time....

.....when you realise that good intentions are merely a candy shell for cruel action. That, despite hard-won lessons, humans would rather make the same mistake over and over instead of learning from them. That we are trapped in our own worlds, and ne'er the twain shalt meet.

....when you realise that you are the only one who realises that there are many worlds, but only one true world. That others would rather be honest to you than honest to themselves. That what they say is entirely truthful, but dishonest because they are incapable of being honest with themselves.

I am constantly amazed by the capacity by which people are capable of deceiving themselves, and am utterly helpless in the face of such deceit.

What do you do then? Deny or accept? Be sad in your honesty or happy in a lie?

I only wish I knew.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Witnessed in Bangkok

I just saw a pre-op transgendered gentlemen carrying a Prada handbag (!) freak the hell out of two Japanese businessmen simply by being in close proximity to them.

I love Bangkok. :)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Off to Bangkok

Back on Friday late night, then off to another swordfighting seminar. Take care.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Facebook Ettiquette

I've discovered that...

  • Blinkymummy is a friend's cousin, and I know another cousin from my debating days.
  • I may have gone to school with Tym's brother, but I'm not sure.
  • Shyue Chou knows one of my AC Drama juniors.
  • Shianux knows another of my AC Drama juniors.
  • A lawyer I've used in a recent case is a 2nd degree contact, friend of an old JC buddy.
  • Willie and a JC friend were neighbours in England.
This brings about an interesting question. What do I do for 2nd degree contacts that I know but not that well? In at least one case, I only know that person in her professional capacity but am close friends with our friend-in-common. In another case, I know the 2nd degree contact, but it's been years since we've spoken.

Decisions, decisions.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sticks and Bones

I took a solid whack across the ribs on Sunday sparring against Andy with the singlestick. It left a welt across my ribs that's rapidly forming into a stick-shaped bruise.

Sunday was a set of fairly casual training. I think Chris figured that a lot of us were starting to burn out and set us on singlestick training instead. For the uninitiated, singlestick is essentially a stick shaped like a rapier. I think it's the transition point between actual duelling and modern sport fencing but I could be wrong.

After some basic footwork and working on some basic "protects", Chris set the senior class off to do some sparring on their own. There were only three takers, Tome, Andy and myself.

Andy and I squared off first. By that time, I was still in a "play-play" mood, thinking we'd get a few rounds of warm up practise before going at it in earnest. I took a solid shot to the ribs to pay for it. I patiently squared off against Andy for a couple more rounds before realising that he was swinging with force, and quite wildly at that. Standing almost a foot taller than I am, Andy was clearly bouting to win through his physical dominance.

I was getting increasingly irate at Andy's swings, which left welts on both my hands and my body - many of them in an exchange of hits. Increasingly, as the bout went on, I started scoring more and more hits against Andy without getting touched myself. I did this by advancing slowly and determinedly against him. I'm sure he must have sensed whatever emotion I was radiating at that point because his attacks to my advance became more panicked.

I still lost the bout, but I closed the margin toward the end.

I am surprised. I had always treated combat, even mock combat, as something to be feared and respected. I don't like battle or combat. Part of the reason I'm learning swordfighting is to get me over my fear of combat. This time was different. I got the distinct impression that Andy was bullying, albeit subconsciously, and I just refused to stand for it.

Maybe there's a fighter in me somewhere after all.

Caesars' Demo, National Library, 8th September

This Saturday, PHEMAS did a demo for replica weaponry distributors, Caesars at the National Library HQ.

Here are some of the photos.

Demo Teddy

Crusader Teddy

Demo Team

Our growing Compagnia Della Spada

3rd Drill

Tome and I in 3rd Drill

3rd Drill 2

My sword makes contact with Tome's, deflecting it.

Shish Kebob

Greg demonstrating the right way to get through armour

We are grateful to Caesars for the opportunity to demonstrate our craft.

Friday, September 07, 2007


I am thankful for this week of rest, giving me many opportunities for quiet contemplation.


I've been thinking about my newfound insights into Fiore. Tome and Ken have their own insights about the seminar - I will not repeat them here, but I agree with them. I will add that I am thinking more about their perspectives as well as my own.

Fiore (the swordmaster whose work we are studying) talks about "Sentimento de Ferro" or the "Feeling of Steel". When a sword contacts another sword, there is a feeling, a pressure acting against the sword you wield. Often, this feeling guides you on what to do next. An attempted bind on a sword, for example, feels very different from an attempted beat, and the counters are different. True, your sight and knowledge of attack lines will guide you, but too often, we neglect to hear the voice of our own sword telling us what needs to be done.

At the risk of sounding sentimental, I will add one extra dimension to it - true, the sword has a voice telling us what to do, but as swordsmen, we must also learn to listen. Too often, I have scripted plans of attack and defense in my head based on what I -think- the opponent is going to do. VERY often, these scripts fail and leave me in a world of pain. Only when I stop scripting, and start feeling, do I get a sense of what needs to be done, and do it.

In short, I am learning to listen, and not voice.


How human a failing is that - to superimpose our own voices over the voice that already tells us what we need to know.

Quite by accident, I stumbled across the Wikipedia entry to "Man of La Mancha". This is essentially a musical adaptation of Cervantes' "Don Quixote", a washed-out fifty year old who has read one too many novels on chivalry and believes himself a great knight. I believe the opening act is familiar to all - Don Quixote charges at a windmill, believing it a four-armed giant and promptly collides into it.

The power of the Don Quixote myth, however, is exactly his delusion. Failing to defeat the four-armed giant, he goes on quest after quest to ensure that he is not defeated again. In the course of the story, he is confronted by a doctor who attempts to cure him and succeed - by showing him in a mirror exactly how the world sees him, a washed-out old man. The climax is where a barmaid, wooed by Don Quixote and treated as a lady, begs Don Quixote to return to his delusions, because she cannot stand being a barmaid.

Too often, we make the achievement of a dream the paramount concern. We build scripts and plans over these dreams. Too often, we think that by our hand we will achieve these dreams.

Too often we charge at windmills thinking they are four-armed giants. Too often, after we collide, we see ourselves as we truly are - washed-out fifty year old men, and then crawl off somewhere to die with dignity.

What happens to that voice then?

Cervantes already has the answer - Don Quixote awakens at the climax back to his delusions and remembers his barmaid, who he has always mistakenly called Dulcinea, fights off men he thinks are threatening her, and dies of the fever he has developed. The barmaid henceforth refuses to be addressed by any other name.

The importance of the Don Quixote legend that he's always listened to the voice in his heart, and in doing so, paves the way for others to hear the voices in their hearts.


Like "Sentimento de Ferro", it takes a lifetime to learn to hear the voice. More accurately, it takes a lifetime to unlearn the hearing of other people's voices, and do what you've always known to be right.

Like Don Quixote, the important fact is not achieving the dream, but having the dream, and when that dream fails, having another one.

To every man his Dulcinea.

Monday, September 03, 2007

How to Hurt People 101

I'm in so much pain, my aches have aches.

The reason for this can be summed up into two words: Ilkka Hartikainen. That's the name of the Finnish instructor that I've been training under for the past week. He's from our sister school, SESH, up in Finland.

At 24, Ilkka probably knows more about swordplay, body mechanics and unarmed combat than any 10 average blokes off the street. Watching him in action, I can understand why knights and men-at-arms were such terrors on the battlefield.

I deeply appreciate Ilkka's attempt to teach us even the basics of his lifetime passion. In a week, I probably forgot more than I learnt in 6 months of regular training. This is casting no aspersions to Greg and Chris, who are wonderful instructors. It's just the sheer volume of what we had to go through that made the experience...unique.

Being able to see the entire system in action and not just bits and pieces that I picked up has helped me immensely, even if I don't grasp the full importance of it all. For one, I can stop thinking about the system in terms of individual tricks and start thinking of it as a system. That is worth more than any move or set of moves I can learn from this week.

By the end of spending 22 hours last week training with Ilkka, I was seriously ready to collapse. I don't think I've ever felt this tired since BMT. At least in BMT, I don't have to worry about being conscious for work the next day.

There was an evaluation and grading at the end of it. It was our regular grading, except it wasn't. I was so tired I was practically going on auto-pilot. The results of it weren't horrible, but I know that if I were actually focused, I'd have done some of the things much better. I still passed and I think I deserved that pass more than any other evaluations I did, even if I did a worse job.

And as promised, here's the keen picture of me in my coif, as well as 7 other keen looking guys. The Compagnia grows!