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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Dream of death

Last night, I dreamed of death. Horrid, morbid death.

It started like this. Last week, my church sent its first missionary to Timor Leste. Last night, I dreamed that he had been gunned down. In the middle of a gunfight. Which he filmed on video. While brandishing a machine gun. It had a very "Blair Witch-cum-war news correspondent" feel to it.

But later, it wasn't he who had died, but an ex-secondary school classmate-cum-Scout. He had died in a car accident. A huge vehicle (truck?) had smashed into the driver's side and he died instantly.

Now I know these visions couldn't be real because of what happened next. A few people were collecting gifts for the deceased's family -- and these people were my colleagues! Whom I rarely interact with. And who most likely have never interacted with said missionary or ex-classmate.

I have an overactive imagination.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

SITEX

SITEX
I hadn't planned to go to this exhibition because I suffer from "exhibition fatigue". But in the end, I made the hour-long trip to Singapore Expo at Changi (aaaaaaaall the way at the other end of our little red dot of an island) for the annual SITEX exhibition.

And I finally met Sassyjan in person. She is, erm, shorter than I expected. :P

Since I was there, I decided to visit the Microsoft booth to see if they had the recently released XBox 360 on display. As it turns out, Microsoft wasn't even there! But then, the exhibition this year seems less crowded too. For the first time, I even saw this big snack area in the centre of a hall, surrounded by lots of empty space. Whoa.

I stayed for about half an hour, then popped next door to check out Big Boyz Toyz. I peeped in and saw booths for electronics, gadgets and cars. Too bad, no babes in bikinis, or maybe they were in the adults-only "dungeon" area. But it cost $10 to enter, and I had already paid $15 for Sexpo last week, so I gave this a pass. I don't think I missed much.

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Sexpo

This post is rated M-18. Kids shouldn't read this.

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SITEX
The big news is that I went to Sexpo, Singapore's first sex-related exhibition. Yes, I went there partly for the novelty of it all, and partly out of curiosity to see how racy it could get in clean-cut Singapore.

Firstly, no pictures, because I didn't bring my camera. I wasn't sure if I would be going, until a friend bugged me to go together... and I was the one who had messaged her, along with a couple of friends, about it. Seems like she's the only open-minded friend I have. Oh, and she's married.

No, I'm not a third-party! choi!

It cost $15 to get in, and I thought, well, you only live once. There were two parts to the exhibition: a general public, PG-rated area, and an adult R21-rated (though it could've passed as M18 too) section. Every visitor was given a brochure for a spa treatment at H2 Spa & Tea Boutique, and a sample of pjur deodarant. We headed straight to the adult section since that was more interesting, ha.

We were greeted by the booth for Vicon, which sells a penis ring-condom-vibrator, with scantily-clad models/dancers handing out brochures. Other booths included eClub Libido for lingerie and sex toys (giving out free condoms!), The Mannequin Collection for fake breasts (for bra padding), Mobile Lingerie by Bra Shoppe (I didn't stick around to find out what a "Mobile Lingerie" is), and The House of Condom with its four-booth space of vibrators, pumps, lingerie, lubricants, etc. Oh, and also Action for Aids.

There was another booth for a sperm bank that supposedly had live sperm for viewing through a microscope. But when I passed by, I heard the visitor say that the sperm cells weren't moving. "But they were moving just now!" the lady-in-charge exclaimed. Haha, maybe the sperm cells died from the stress of too many visitors, like animals at the zoo.

Interestingly, there was also a booth by Private Asia that was looking for distributors for DVD, PayTV, etc. I don't know what to make of this company.

When we arrived, there was also a talk by Esther Teh of Love N Healing Space, describing the different zodiac types of men and women. I forgot what a Piscean man is, ha. She's basically a New Age practitioner who also does sex-related numerology.

The central area was taken up by exhibits from China. They were mostly art pieces (pots, knives, paintings, sculptures) with depictions of sex. Two items caught my eye. One was something called a "finger pincher" (I think) which was used to punish adulterous wives and disobedient female servants. It was basically a bronze lizard and I could not figure out how it was used.

The other was a wall decoration of two fishes. Nothing wrong about that, except that they're positioned in such a way that, together, they look like the female genital. Hmm, wall decoration...

There was also an enclosed seminar room, but it's a seminar, which means boring yak-yak-yak, so we skipped it. There were also consulting rooms in the corner, but I didn't get anywhere near them to see what was going on.

As we were leaving the adult section, I noticed a crowd at the Vicon booth. I realised that one of the dancers was pole-dancing. And some audience members were taking photos and recording video... and no one minded, not even the cops nearby, who were more interested in ensuring that the audience didn't block the entrance. One more reason to bring a camera!

There was another pole-dancing girl, who danced quite stiffly in my opinion, then a third girl took to the small platform. She was holding one of their products (inflated, of course) and proceeded to show how it was used. She didn't strip, of course, but she did simulate pushing it towards her genitals. I think that's as racy as the authorities would allow: a fully-clothed woman (albeit in a short-short skirt that barely concealed her panties) gripping an inflated condom and thrusting her pelvis at it.

After that, it was back to the public section. There was a panel discussion going on, but it was in Chinese, so I didn't bother to stick around for it. There was a bookshop selling sex guides (basically books with pictures of sexual positions (oh ya, with full nudity inside)) and calendars (dogs, cats, Star Wars III (I am not kidding!)), some massage chairs, Two to Tango, a Chinese health tonic booth, and an Australian shop selling bedsheets.

And that was it. My visit to Singapore's first sex exhibition. Not very racy, eye-opening in a way, and quite informative. With sex shops and sex art and New Age sex therapy, Singapore isn't so straight-laced after all.

The crowd: more young people than "dirty old men", and a lot of couples. For the hour or so that I was there, I think there were less than a thousand people, with most of them in the adult section. I don't recall seeing any children, though they were allowed in the public section.

Podcast

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Dropped my handphone again!

Gah! Why, why, why????!!! Luckily, I dropped it in the company bus, so it's safe-and-sound, unless the driver goes snooping around... nah.

This is the second time that this has happened to me. I either need a bigger phone or better pockets.

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

"Saving Face"

Saving Face
One very important characteristic of Chinese culture that no generation of Chinese has evaded, no matter where in the world they end up in, is the concept of "face". "Face" refers to a person's or family's pride. "Shame" in English literally means "to throw one's face" in Chinese. (For a Star Trek reference, the Chinese's "face" is akin to the Klingon's "honour".)

In this Chinese-American movie, it shows how important "face" is when a family is dishonoured. Joan Chen plays a 48-year-old woman who becomes pregnant, but she refuses to reveal the father's identity. And her daughter, played by Michelle Krusiec, plays a lesbian surgeon whose girlfriend turns out to be the daughter of her (Michelle's) boss.

In the former, the unwanted pregnancy causes the grandfather to kick Joan Chen's character out of the house while rumours swirl among their supposed friends. In the latter, the daughter has to deal with a mother who wants her to marry a good man to produce heirs, preferably of the male gender, and that leads to friction between the two.

Of course, everything ends happily in this fictional story. I think the take-home message is that "face" is less important than family relations and love.

The show started quite well, with enough humour to keep it bouncing along. There's also a generous intermix of Mandarin Chinese and English dialogue. (And they say only Singaporeans can do that!) Michelle Krusiec, who apparently speaks Chinese, probably needs to brush up on her Chinese pronunciation, because there were times when she got the tones wrong. I'm not saying I'm a master in speaking Chinese, but her words sounded very... non-native.

I am, however, disappointed about one part. Not at the filmmakers, but the local censors. I can accept that it's rated R-21 due to the lesbian relationship. What I don't understand is why a portion of the film still had to be cut! And the cut was very, very, very obvious.

It happened while Wil (Michelle Krusiec) and Vivian (Lynn Chen) were in bed. From IMDb's quotes page, Vivan's mother left a voice recording, which I think is important because it shows the mother's open-mindedness. So the only conclusion I can draw is that the cut portion involved some sort of super-erotic scene between the two women in bed. Except that the part after the cut portion just shows Wil lying on Vivian.

I do not understand!

Overall, while it's not in the same league as "Joy Luck Club", it is still a charming little show about what happens when a very important aspect of traditional Chinese culture meets modern (and mostly Western) culture.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Smurfs get bombed

UNICEF and the people behind Smurfs made this advertisement, screened only in Belgium.

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Printer companies, market share and competition

This is somewhat related to work, but detached enough that I feel comfortable talking about publicly.

If you have an inkjet printer and run out of ink, you will buy a new inkjet cartridge from the same printer manufacturer. For example, if you own a HP printer, you will buy HP inkjet cartridges. You won't buy Epson or Canon cartridges.

I've only recently realised how silly this whole notion is. Not because you could save money by refilling your inkjet cartridges (an area that I won't go into publicly), but because you are restricted to buying supplies from the same manufacturer forever and ever, amen.

The silliness arises because in any competitive and capitalistic field, if a company produces goods for a certain class of product, it will produce those goods for as many products in that class as possible.

For example, Verbatim makes CD-R discs that can be used with Pioneer CD writers and Sony CD writers and other brands of CD writers, but not just for one brand of writer alone. Or for something less computer-related, Esso or Mobil won't produce a fuel specifically for Hondas or Fords or BMWs, but for all vehicles.

So why would a printer manufacturer produce ink only for its printers? The simple and only answer that I can think of is because they have to support their own brand. But as most people know or can figure out, the money isn't in printers, but in ink. So a printer manufacturer should more logically support its ink, not its printers.

Aside: Yes, I realise that there are differences between different brands of ink, e.g. water content, droplet size, etc. But I'm sure that the printer manufacturers have more than enough resources to find ways to overcome these issues.

To take a real world example, more than 50% of the world's printers are HP printers. Therefore, 100% of HP's inkjet cartridges can only support 50% of all printers in the world. That leaves another 50% of all printers untouched by HP. But the money is in ink, and 50% of hundreds of thousands of printers is a mind-boggling number. Taken together, that's a lot of untapped revenue.

Now if HP owned 100% of the printer market, then of course it would logically support its printers only. But it doesn't own 100% of the market, and neither does Epson or Canon or any other brand.

What if Epson or Canon came out with inkjet cartridges that can be used in HP printers? Epson has less than 20% of the world's printer market. If it produces HP-compatible inkjet cartridges (containing its own Epson ink, of course), then it could sell to 20+50 = 70% of the world's printer market! That's a lot of money to be made!

So why don't these printer companies do that? It smacks rightly in the face of capitalism and competition. Unless I haven't thought of something, or there's some conspiracy somewhere...

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Optical illusion

In lieu of an update, here's something to ponder over:

Checker shadow

Squares A and B are exactly the same colour!

Don't believe me? Open the picture in a graphics program. Then either use the eyedropper tool on both squares, or cut out everything until you're left with squares A and B.

An explanation.

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