Monday, November 28, 2005

Thanksgiving was awesome, as you can see from the sumptuous spread of food on the dining table. And that most definitely wasn't all; there was more (just that it's not in the picture), together with FOUR kinds of dessert- bourbon-orange pecan pie with bourbon whipped cream, sweet potato and coconut cheesecake, chocolate torte, and of course pumpkin pie. Enough to make even a person with a cloyingly sweet tooth pass out from an overdose of sugar. But it was a great experience, and I did have a good deal of fun. Oh by the way, as you can tell from the picture, my hair is absolutely awful! I need to do something about it soon. Been wearing a beanie in a desperate bid to conceal the disaster that is atop my head.

I met Thomas in the gym just now- he was there making penance for the sins of the previous four days. Apparently, he'd been to New York over Thanksgiving break, with a couple of the other UMich freshmen; where they (over)indulged in a wild shopping and eating frenzy. He related to me, with great relish, how they had "three breakfasts and three lunches and three dinners" each day, and proceeded to tell me where they went, but was promptly arrested by guilt in mid-speech and left me hanging abruptly by the calf raise machine for the bench press station to knock out a couple of reps in atonement.

Anyway so the fun is over (at least for the next three to four weeks or so), and it's back to humdrum campus life. Everyone's gearing up for finals which begin on 15 Dec and last all the way through to 22 Dec, before Fall term is officially over and we have another brief respite (Winter break!). U-M has one of the shortest winter breaks ever- it lasts all of one-and-a-half weeks, which is something I'm rather indignant about. Granted, we have another ten days off during spring break in end-February, but who's going to go anywhere then? They might as well give us a longer winter break and be done with it. Just about the only good thing is that we end school by the end of April, so that means I'll be able to return to Singapore pretty early for summer vacation. (And revert back to being a soldier with camo cream and the works, for all of ten weeks at the very least).

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving is akin to what we call Chinese New Year back in Singapore- two (or so) days filled with visiting family and friends, trips in the car down to the houses of different relatives, partaking of the smorgasbord of goodies each of the houses possesses, watching tv, playing card games- except that of course there isn't any hongbao to look forward to during Thanksgiving, which is definitely an extremely integral part of Chinese New Year. So the last two days I've basically been doing all of that stuff as an honorary member of Alex's family (or you could say, a piece of deadwood who tags along with them to their relatives' houses and gleefully indulges in the food and sprawls on the luxury of the carpeted floor until it's time to go home). We visited Alex's uncle's house yesterday which was simply amazing- a pretty new place, the decor was breathtaking; it's everything the dream American house could be. Large but not too sparse, a beautiful kitchen with the countertops you see in movies, a brick fireplace, a basement with a pool table, bar counter, rocking chairs, another fireplace, a large tv- and of course wonderful bathrooms. I don't know why, but the bathrooms were particularly intriguing. They were lovely.

So far this break has been a great one just to relax and unwind- we watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at the Michigan Theater (there's a Michigan Theater in South Haven as well). Tickets were unbelievably cheap- just $3.50 per person, and I must say that the theater wasn't too shoddy either. I think we're going to a fabulous Mexican place for lunch today, and perhaps go down to the pier for a walk (South Haven is located on the opposite side of Lake Michigan from Chicago, although the lake is so large that you can't see across it; it's just a vast expanse which should be called an ocean instead), and maybe ice-skate in the evening again (Ted, you're not a loser, don't worry- we'll go to Yost or something when I get back!). Haven't been to a gym in two days, but I've been doing circuits in the morning in my tiny room- well okay not really circuits, but like 4 sets of 30 tricep pushups and 30 standard pushups- and then 4 sets of 20 dips and wide hand pushups, and squats and all that stuff, so I hope I'm not in too bad shape by the time I get back. Anyway I've reasoned to myself that 3 days off can't be a bad thing especially since I've done enough shit to my body in the past week (on Monday I lifted weights in the wee hours of the morning, erged during lunch, and erged again before dinner- about 20km of erging total that day), so I probably need to recuperate right? Right. Okay whatever. Haha back to my political science now! I've got an insane amount of work due next week and the week after- phooey. Brought many books to Alex's place- managed to get quite a bit done, which is pretty good. Blog sometime soon!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

It's Friday morning now, the day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving yesterday was pretty eventful- filled with conviviality, fun, and of course loads of good food. I must say the Klugs are terribly gifted when it comes to culinary prowess- the Thanksgiving dinner was basically amazing. But luckily I exercised a degree of self-control that amazed even myself, and hopefully I can hang on for two more days without succumbing to the temptations of overconsumption. Went ice-skating for the very first time (okay I'm such a loser, I know) on Friday night, and it was a blast. Haven't fallen yet, for that matter, which was pretty good. Haha. Okay I'll be back sometime soon! Enjoy yourselves everyone.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A view from the window of my room in South Quad.

Ann Arbor's covered in about two inches of snow today- the most snow I've seen since I've been here, and I'm pretty sure there's more to come- what a way to usher in Thanksgiving! Just about everyone's leaving the University for winter break; some are flying back to their hometowns, most have been dragging their suitcases downstairs in eager anticipation for their parents to pick them up for the long ride home. For me I'll be leaving for South Haven (a small town in Michigan, 2 1/2 hours away from Ann Arbor)- as I'll be spending Thanksgiving all the way till Sunday with one of my teammates from crew and her family, Alex. As a matter of fact I'll be leaving in a couple of minutes, so I just wanted to rush this post out to let you guys know that all's going well over here. Thanksgiving is such a big occasion here, I'm fortunate to be able to experience a traditional celebration with an American family. Alex has made big plans for the next couple of days- they include making me fatter than I already am with tempting Thanksgiving edibles (Oh dear.), ice-skating on the lake if it's frozen over, horse-riding (she owns 2 horses), learning how to throw an American football (I'm really looking forward to this). And for me I'm going to make sure we get our circuit workouts and cardio in (to prevent ballooning to obscene extremes and so that we don't die when we clumsily waddle back onto the ergs on Monday practice). Okay I've got to run now- take care everyone, and have yourself a great Thanksgiving as well! Just take a moment to stop and think about the things we should be thankful for- personally, I know I've got plenty to be grateful for. Alright I'll blog sometime soon!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Hey I know many of you guys are probably up to your ears in mugging, in particular because it's the exam period for most universities now. So read this if you're feeling somewhat peckish and/or have a fetish for food that makes you moan with pleasure (you'll get what I mean when you click on that link). It's a pretty good diversion. Anyway that site is awesome, go back and check it out more if you've the time. I wish I could start a blog like that but in doing so I'd probably just end up ridiculously poor and disgustingly oversized so I don't believe I'll give it a try. Haha.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Despite the frosty weather and biting cold, I'll be making the trek down State Street, and then a right on East Hoover- together with the throngs of Michigan fans who, like me, are heading down to the Big House to witness what perhaps is the most anticipated matchup in college football- Michigan vs. Ohio State. I didn't think I'd be able to get a decently-priced ticket to the game, seeing that it's the most hyped game in the Big Ten, due to the fact that it showcases one of the longest-standing and most intense rivalries between two of the country's top footballing programs. It'll be broadcast nationwide on both ABC and ESPN, because it's just about the most important event happening this Saturday. But thankfully, somehow I found another Singaporean who was selling his ticket and I manged to get it for a pretty good price considering what others are generally selling theirs at (around USD$80-$100, if you're wondering). This will be only my second time attending a football game- the first was against Northern Illinois, which pales drastically in comparison to the clash of the titans that I'll be fortunate to witness tomorrow. It's time to Blue Out!

Here's the message that's been circulating throughout campus thanks primarily to
On Saturday, in addition to wearing all BLUE, bring some loose change and an unopened water bottle into the Stadium. "Clear, sealed, plastic water bottles" are specifically permitted items. Once inside, drink the water (it's good for you), put the coins in the bottle, and cap the bottle. On EVERY single Ohio State offensive possession, shake the bottle like crazy with 20,000 other students to create the loudest Big House environment in history! Collectively, we can and will affect the outcome of this game.

With the nation's collective attention focused on Ann Arbor, Michigan, this weekend- we have the opportunity to showcase the extremely positive experience we know and love as MICHIGAN FOOTBALL SATURDAYS. Let's do so with the respect and class that we often say characterizes our fine institution. Wake up early. Dress in ALL BLUE. Congregate in anticipation. Arrive at the game early. Hold on to your bottle for the entire game (no ND repeats) and shake it like crazy. Cheer, rattle, and Hail loudly the entire game. Celebrate!



Tuesday, November 15, 2005

What can I blog about today? I don't know. Today marked the start of Winter practice proper- which I know is going to be one of the hardest things I've ever been through in my life. I hope I'm ready for it. Erg practice was disappointing this afternoon- I know by relative standards I probably don't have a reason to feel that way, but this time it's so much more than just splits or times or anything that can be logically measured. It's about the threshold of pain and tolerance and mental tenacity.

We were given a Level One workout to do today (A Level One workout is a workout that's performed at intensities of 95%-105% of competitive 2k pace, so, as expected, they are extremely demanding and require significant recovery to realize their full benefits)- in essence, it's interval training; extremely high intensities over short distances, with very short rest periods, usually roughly equal to the time you take to pull the distance. The workout comprised 8 x 500m at a split approximately 10 seconds below our split for the latest 6k trial we did, which would mean that my split for the 500m pieces would have to be around a 2:01min/500m.

First five pieces went pretty well- my times ranged from between 1:56 to 1:59 per 500m piece. But the last three pieces were plainly awful, where my splits went up to 2:04 even. It was extremely frustrating because I'd start each 500m piece pretty decently, sustaining a 1:56min split, but when it all came down to the last 250m, or about 35-40 strokes, I'd just lose it entirely and the numbers'd just leap by about a whole 10 seconds to 2:06min or something equally inexcusable and I'd never be able to get it back down to where I was prior to that.

Maybe my stroke rate was too high- I've to compensate for my height by pulling at a faster stroke rate; for many of the pieces I was pulling at 35 strokes per minute, and my rate went up to 40 once, which is just about insane and something I recommend you try if you'd like to experience a sensation akin to what a fish out of water goes through; and so it was hard to sustain that speed. But of course I can have excuses and more excuses and they won't hide the fact that perhaps I could have pushed harder, just that I didn't. Dying at the last 250m for the last 3 pieces was plainly inexcusable, and I'm totally on myself for that now. I just hope the next practice will be better.

Philip left a comment here that it was far better to burn out than to fade away. I agree entirely with that, notwithstanding the fact that at the rate I'm going I think I will just about burn out someday. Like today. Take a look at my schedule for the day.

1. Weights with the team at 6:30-7:45am in our gorgeous state-of-the-art Michigan Varsity Athletics weights room (the machines are all blue in line with Michigan colors; it's spacious, and in no way whatsoever crowded with the stupid hairy grunting men you see just about everywhere else; at the end of every workout, we enter our information into the computers in the gym, which then generate our weights programs for the subsequent session, which is way cool)
2. Take Commuter North down to North Campus with Katie McKee for our German 101 class that begins at 8am, a 15-minute bus ride.
3. Leave German class 5 minutes earlier to rush down on the Bursley-Baits bus to the Modern Languages Building for my Great Books Lecture at 9am.
4. Try my darndest to stay awake for Great Books, and much to my surprise, manage to, but subsequently subside into a peaceful slumber during Anthropology Lecture despite the highly entertaining professor and the topic of the day being Sexuality and Gender (you would've thought anyone'd stay awake during such a lecture).
5. Weights by myself at the CCRB (accompanied by the aforementioned obligatory stupid hairy grunting men) at 11.30am.
6. Lunch! I love Lunch! At South Quad at 1.15pm.
7. Great Books discussion at 2pm where we go over "History of the Peloponnesian War" by Thucydides, which is entirely out of my element, but whatever.
8. Go back to South Quad and get some PoliSci reading in till 4:10pm.
9. Head down to the IM Building for afternoon ergometer practice at 4:30pm, and duly perish.
10. Dinner! I magically resurrect from the dead and discover untapped sources of energy at the very mention of Dinner! Yumyumyumyum. At South Quad at 6:30pm.
11. Back to homework and more PoliSci readings at 7.30pm, interspersed with blogging and emails at random intervals, all the way till bedtime at 11pm.
12. Wake up tomorrow at 6am (HOPEFULLY I manage to drag my lazy ass out of bed) and trudge to the CCRB in the gloomy wetness (40% chance of snow tomorrow, eeuurrgghhhh), and do my own enforced erg workout.

And spend Wednesday in a manner similar to how I've just finished my Tuesday. Haha. Oh but tomorrow is excellent though, because it's Thanksgiving dinner at all the dorm dining halls- I shall list the menu for you to drool over:
Cranberry Punch
Grilled Pork Chops
Roast Turkey
Roasted Vegetable Strudel
Seafood Primevera
Bread Dressing
Whipped Potatoes
Whole Green Beans
Whole Kernel Corn
Dinner Rolls
Apple Cranberry Pie
Mocha Pecan Pie
Pumpkin Pie (Golly! I've always wanted to try Pie! This is amazing!)
Whipped Topping
Okay tomorrow seems like it's gonna be a great day. Dinner will be my motivation for tomorrow's cross-training workout in the afternoon.

Here's a quote to mull over, given to me by my dearest coxswain Julie as a word of encouragement. I hope it works for you- yes, you, dear reader, who's lasted long enough through my rantings to see this. I'm going to use it to keep me going. Stay strong! I know things might not be going the best they could possibly be- but hang in there and always remember that you are destined for greater things.
Our greatest glory consists not in never falling,
but in rising every time we fall.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, November 11, 2005


To those of you who think I must be plainly out of my mind when I chose calloused palms, waking up at godforsaken hours, the unmistakable whoosh of the erg flywheel, and the clang of weight plates, over the uneventful life of the typical college kid- studying (or at least pretending to) on weekdays, and painting the town red on weekends, read on. I just found this article in the archives of the Michigan Daily (our university newspaper)- and it puts across, very succinctly, what life for me is all about right now.

Blue teaches incoming freshmen about rowing and life

By Ari Fink and Bethany Herrema, For the Daily
September 14, 2005

“What’s an erg? Are we going to capsize? What do you mean, ‘set’ the boat?”

These are all questions novice rowing coach Vita Scaglione fields annually in her second year coaching at Michigan. In just seven months, she molds a group of athletes — most of whom have never touched an oar — into a Division I crew.

In the summer months, each Michigan female freshman and sophomore receives a letter in the mail from the crew team stating that, if she is 5-foot-7 or taller, she should try out. (Note from Yours Truly-who-is-all-of-5-foot-2-inches-tall-on-a-good-day: Even if she isn't, she is still most welcome to try out. Hahaha.) Coming in, many potential rowers aren’t aware of the commitment, athleticism, strength and mental fortitude that are required of a rower.

While most Michigan students are sleeping, the rowers are sweating. As if living in the dorm isn’t hard enough, the rowers must find a way to go to sleep while the halls are still bustling and drag themselves out of their cozy beds before the sun even rises. The young rowers arrive at the Intramural Sports Building at 5:45 a.m. and train on the Ergometers (indoor rowing machine or the aforementioned erg) or head to to the water at Belleville Lake, which is a 15-minute drive from campus. After a grueling day of classes, the rowers practice again in the afternoon. Even on Saturday, the varsity rowers come into the erg room at 7 a.m. to complete a 6k fitness test (A "Fitness Test" sounds far too mild and nondescript to adequately describe the physical and mental duress each and every one of us undergoes during the length of the 6k. Try rowing till you turn green and your eyeballs pop out of their sockets and you are incapable of behaving in a manner expected of humans for ten minutes following the row and you'll know what I mean).

In just a few short weeks, the rowers must acquire the knowledge necessary to row a boat. Some of the necessary skills include feathering the oar — twisting it after a stroke is completed on the recovery — pulling the oar into their marks, and most importantly, catching and releasing the water together. In short, a group of college freshmen and sophomores must balance taking classes, studying, making friends and exhausting their bodies on a daily basis.

Women’s rowing is one of the only sports where an incoming student can be part of a varsity team without any prior experience. It takes a special kind of athlete to learn something completely foreign to her and to put in the time and effort necessary to succeed.

“It’s not necessarily the rowing that I love, but rather the kinds of people the sport attracts,” Scaglione said.

In addition to dealing with a heavier workload in class, the rowers are also getting a crash course on the water. It won’t take long for the athletes to figure out and learn to hate the erg, or to realize that they won’t in fact capsize — unless they hit a log, which happened last year. But, rowing is a sport of constantly perfecting and re-perfecting the body and mind. In school, in life and in rowing the questions never cease.


Call me insane, tell me I'll never match up against the Americans, say I'm just killing myself, stare me in the eye and try to break me down, do whatever you want. This, precisely, is why I do what I do, and I want to be able to say that I have absolutely no regrets, at the end of it all.
L-R: Bow, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Stroke, Coxswain

In The Beginning...

And after God had created the earth and all the things that were in it, God created man and woman. They followed His command and were fruitful and multiplied.

Then God looked down upon the human race and sought out four strong humans: tall, lean, well-muscled, but not too bright. (hahaha!) These four God called "the engine room".

God looked further and found two smaller but strong humans with focus and a well-developed sense of balance. These two God called "the bow pair". (I am a permanent fixture in the bow seat- due to the fact that you can't find anyone smaller than me, and also because I apparently have a "well-developed sense of balance". Those of you who have seen me wobble in a K1 will have other thoughts, though.)

God sought a human who was steely-eyed, determined, a competitor who would never say "die". This human God called "the stroke".

One more human God found. An individual who had all the qualities of "the stroke" but one who could also follow and send a strong rhythm and will to those who in turn followed him. This individual God called simply "seven".

Now God faced the biggest challenge. God must find an individual who could control and lead these eight exemplary human beings. One who was cocky and confident with a loud voice and dominant bearing. God found no such human being, so God came to earth and took on the role of the coxswain.

And the eight human beings declared that the coxswain had a "God-complex".

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


6km ergometer timed trial on Saturday! It's a monthly affair, and not something I particularly look forward to. I've to start worrying about it now. Oh dear. In my first timed trial, my 500m split was 2:12.8 min, with a total time of 26:33.7 min. Looking to better that in any way I possibly can- rowing is just like running, it's hard to knock off even a couple of seconds. People often have this warped misconception that it shouldn't be too difficult to knock a few seconds off their split, which will result in slashing their total time considerably. BUT IT'S BLOODY HARD, take my word for it! There's one hell of a difference between rowing at 1:58min/500m and 2:06min/500m- if you don't believe it, go try it for yourself. Lol.

The following song is an awesome number by Michael Jackson- I believe it hails from his 80s collection when he was in his heyday, untainted by paedophilic allegations lol. It's from an incredible mix done by one of my teammates, Keirsten- and our coach plays it often during morning erg sessions to help us take our mind off the task at hand (not that we lose focus, mind you; it just helps to have something to listen to, and the rhythm helps a lot when it comes to erging). Go check it out (legally, of course). If not, ask me for it. Hahahaha.

She was more like a beauty queen from a movie scene
I said don’t mind, but what do you mean I am the one
Who will dance on the floor in the round
She said I am the one who will dance on the floor in the round

She told me her name was Billie Jean, as she caused a scene
Then every head turned with eyes that dreamed of being the one
Who will dance on the floor in the round

People always told me be careful of what you do
And don’t go around breaking young girls’ hearts
And mother always told me be careful of who you love
And be careful of what you do ’cause the lie becomes the truth

Billie Jean is not my lover
She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son
She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son

For forty days and forty nights
The law was on her side
But who can stand when she’s in demand
Her schemes and plans
’cause we danced on the floor in the round
So take my strong advice, just remember to always think twice
Do think twice

She told my baby,we where dancing still 3:00
Then she looked at me, she showed me a photo
My baby cried, ’cause his eyes were like mine
’cause we danced on the floor in the round

People always told me be careful of what you do
And don’t go around breaking young girls’ hearts
She came and stood right by me
Then the smell of sweet perfume
This happened much too soon
She called me to her room

Billie Jean is not my lover
She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son
Billie Jean is not my lover
She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son
She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son
She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son
Billie Jean is not my lover
She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son
Michael Jackson :: Billie Jean

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

If you gave just one reason why
My heart just might let go
Maybe one day I will fall in love again
But for now I'll just leave my heart in two

Jordan Knight :: Broken By You

Monday, November 07, 2005

Rain outside my window pouring down
What now
You're gone
My fault
I'm sorry

Feeling like a fool 'cause I let you down
Now it's
Too late
To turn it around

I'm sorry for the tears I made you cry
I guess this time, it really is goodbye

You made it clear when you said
"I just don't love you no more"

Craig David
I Just Don't Love You No More (I'm Sorry)

Thanks Quan for the song. It's awesome! Everyone go download this song now! Even though it is sad... But whatever.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

I can't remember the last time that we kissed goodbye
All our "I love yous" were just not enough to survive
Something your eyes never told me
But it's only now too plain to see
Brilliant disguise when you hold me
And I'm free
I've been thinking and here's what I've come to conclude
Sometimes the distance is more than two people can use
But how could I have known girl
It was time and not space you would need
Darling tonight I could hold you and you would know
But would you believe
There's a light in your eyes that I used to see
There's a place in your heart where I used to be
Was I wrong to assume that you were waiting for me
There's a light in your eyes
Did you leave that light burning for me
Cards and phone calls and photograph pictures of you
Constant reminder of all the things you get used to
Is there a chance in hell or heaven
That there's still something here to build on
Or do you just pick up the pieces after they fall
But after all
There's a light in your eyes that I used to see
And a song in the words that you spoke to me
Was I wrong to believe in your melody
There's a light in your eyes
Did you leave that light burning for me
Should I keep on waiting or does love keep on fading away
Fading away
It's been a while since I've seen you so how have you been
Did you get my letter I wrote you, but I did not send
I tried to call your old number
But the voice that I heard on the phone
I recognized but she told me the number was wrong
There's a light in my eyes but it's too bright to see
And a pain in my heart where you used to be
Guess I was wrong to assume that you were waiting here for me
There's a light in your eyes
Did you leave that light burning for me
Light in Your Eyes :: Blessed Union of Souls

Saturday, November 05, 2005

I spent my Saturday evening with Kelsey and we had a wonderful time. We did an insane back workout together. We are both hardcore and that's awesome. Originally we'd planned to go to The Real Seafood Co. restaurant along Main Street, a pretty high-end eating establishment, as I was in the mood for seafood. Hey, that rhymes! Haha. I've been having my eye on the swordfish all along. But when we got there we were told that we'd have to wait forty minutes for a table and you all know how much I detest waiting, so we decided to look for something else instead. So we walked to Seva, a restaurant reputed to have the best vegetarian food in Ann Arbor, only to be notified that we'd have to wait thirty-five minutes for a table this time round. Kind of miffed, we walked a little distance and came across Earthern Jar, this Indian vegetarian place that sells food by the pound, buffet-style, that I'd been meaning to try for a good while now but somehow never got around to doing so. It's a homely little outlet, which barely can fit twenty people; and every day there are an assortment of Indian-themed dishes (the owner's an Indian from Punjab) which you can mix and match- after that you weigh your food on a scale and pay accordingly to how much you've ordered. It's a pretty interesting concept and we both thought the food was exceptionally brilliant. Homely, authentic, healthy Indian fare. Curries, korma, lentils, pulses, Basmati rice, the like; both of us had a hard time choosing what we wanted and trying not to overload our dangerously sagging plates. We ended our meal with a lovely banana pudding and I must say the evening was sublime. It was good spending time with Kelsey- it amazes me just how alike we are- the interests we share, our motivations, our personalities; right down to the fact that we're both real small- and while that can be discouraging when it comes to crew, it has the opposite effect on us by instead making us push ourselves harder. I can truly say that I've found a real friend in her. Look, I first met her in the gym! Even before crew tryouts or anything. And everyone who knows me should know that people I meet in the gym definitely already share something substantial in common with me. It's awesome.

I love spending time with people and being busy because it takes my mind off the harsh possibility that maybe, just maybe

you don't love me anymore.

Cause all of the stars are fading away
Just try not to worry you'll see them some day
Take what you need and be on your way
And stop crying your heart out
We're racing Eastern Michigan University (EMU, lol) tomorrow, and I'm glad I'm going to be able to race since I've finally been given the green light by the NCAA. Honestly, I was anticipating only being cleared a couple of weeks from now, so it is a pleasant surprise to receive news of the fact that they've finally sorted out everything. The only bad thing is that tomorrow's race is at Belleville Lake, our homeground (homewaters, whatever) so I don't get to travel to someplace exotic which is sort of sad, and I don't get twenty-five dollars in food money which is even more upsetting. But it's okay, at least we won't have to travel for a long time just to race for all of ten minutes, and we don't have to de-rig the boats and load the trailers for the journey. Anyway, since we were racing tomorrow, I expected today's practice to be something geared towards preparing us for our scrimmage tomorrow. So I think we all got an unexpected surprise when our coach, Vita, told us that we weren't going down to the boathouse since it was too blustery out. Instead, she packed us all into the vans we normally drive to practice, gave us a list of directions which we followed, and we ended up at a gravel lot 6 miles from campus, on the edge of a forested trail. And then she announced that we were going for, of all things, a hike. Well, yes, so we duly went for a hike. When I stepped onto the trail and into the cover of the trees, I was struck by how much it resembled Pasir Laba (just much prettier with the leaves turning shades of red and yellow) and the areas on which we had our compass and orienteering course in both Sierra and Air Wing. Just that this time it was so much easier to traipse over the leaves without a helmet and field pack and SBO and rifle and ET stick (how can I possibly forget my ET stick? The very bane of my existence). And it did bring back a strange yearning to be back in the woods with camouflage paint streaked across my face, in my number four, carrying my M-16, and just becoming a soldier again. When we finally emerged from the woods at the end of our hike, just before we turned around and started the trek back to our vans, we ended at a beautiful ridge overlooking a lake, flanked by trees with a kaleidoscope of colors and the occasional house on the opposite bank. It was breathtakingly beautiful, coupled with the fact that it was almost evening and the sun was fading into the backdrop as we stood and marveled at the beauty of nature. It's the little opportunities like these that reinforce how fortunate I am to be here.

Friday, November 04, 2005

the beauty of the setting sun in a parking lot.

So you sailed away
Into a grey sky morning
Now I'm here to stay
Love can be so boring

Nothing's quite the same now
I just say your name now

But it's not so bad
You're only the best I ever had
You don't want me back
You're just the best I ever had

So you stole my world
Now I'm just a phony
Remembering the girl
Leaves me down and lonely

Send it in a letter
Make yourself feel better

But it's not so bad
You're only the best I ever had
You don't need me back
You're just the best I ever had

And it may take some time to
Patch me up inside
But I can't take it so I
Run away and hide
And I may find in time that
You were always right
You're always right

So you sailed away
Into a grey sky morning
Now I'm here to stay
Love can be so boring

What was it you wanted
Could it be I'm haunted

But it's not so bad
You're only the best I ever had
I don't want you back
You're just the best I ever had
The best I ever had
The best I ever

Best I Ever Had :: Vertical Horizon

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Here is an update as to the effectiveness of my insane leg workout yesterday. My legs have never ever ached so much in my life before today. It's particularly bad especially just when I get up after I've been sitting down for an extended period of time, and I'm reduced to an unsteady totter for a couple of meters before I can finally lapse into something that seems more like an ordinary walk. Anyway it was satisfying albeit in a masochistic way so I was pleased with that.

This week has been pretty good because I received my political science midterm results which I was exceedingly pleased with, achieved new gains in my workouts (okay I sound like a bodybuilder wannabe here, mind you I am NOT), managed to pick myself up from the slump I was in last week with regards to ergometer practice results, and a couple of other little instances that contributed to my overall cheeriness. One thing I'm really touched by is how so many of my crew teammates have offered to have me over to their homes to spend Thanksgiving with them. Thanksgiving is celebrated with much enthusiasm and meaning over here in the States- it's a typical family affair with good food and fellowship, and I'm looking forward to experiencing a traditional American Thanksgiving celebration. Just that now I've to decide whose offer to accept, and everyone's so nice that it's hard for me to do that. The hospitality of the girls on my team are amazing. Actually it's so much more than that- they're incredible people with a whole spectrum of personalities, ranging from the quirky to the ditzy to the too-nice-until-I-can't-take-it-any-more to the aggressive chiongsters to the motherly to the plain-gone-in-the-head kind. It's a motley crew of 20-odd rowers and 6 coxies, and these people are probably the main reason behind why I'm enjoying myself so much in Michigan. Training is tough but rewarding, and to know that you aren't alone in pushing yourself to all these insane extremes helps a lot. Honestly, I don't think I'd be able to accomplish half as much if I were to do all this by myself. That's the great thing about having a team to rely on.

don't look no farther
baby im back yeah
i'm here to cater to you
anything that you want me to do, i'll do it
cause i'll be your lover
i'll be your best friend
tell me what i gotta do
tell me what i gotta do and i'll do it
baby i'm back :: Akon

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I'm not particularly in the habit of talking about my workouts in my blog, but I think I just did an insane leg workout today. You see, I've recently decided to revamp my lifting workouts since I thought I was stagnating after sticking to my tried-and-tested regimen of 4 sets of 15 reps each since goodness-knows-when. So anyway I found a delightful (and respectably acclaimed) magazine with the heading "Our Best Workout Guide Ever- 57 All-New Routines for Fast Results" (I know you must be thinking it's Men's Health, but No, it is NOT Men's Health, neither is it the Bodybuilding Journal, nor Muscle Mania, nor Arnold's Fitness Guide, or anything vaguely reminiscent of large scowling men with biceps the size of grapefruits). Oh, speaking about grapefruits- I am eating a grapefruit now, by the way- and- oh dear, I've just managed to catapult a large spoonful of pink flesh onto my table after overenthusiastically trying to pry the stubborn peel apart. Crap. Anyway, as I was saying, the name of the publication is of no consequence. The workout started off great. After the first exercise, hack squat, was completed, I still felt mighty energetic and I began to debate the effectiveness of the workout. But not for long, because my doubts vanished as fast as they had come- midway through the third exercise of squat jumps. I almost perished during the walking lunges following those, and I vividly remember thinking to myself in the midst of that exercise that I was newly convinced that leg workouts required the most pain tolerance out of all. I never really did leg workouts in the past, because we never seemed to place much emphasis on them back in the RJ canoeing days; running was about all we did. Okay, leg workouts are crazy. There is a certain logic behind this. You see- for example, if you do a really challenging arm workout, the most that'll happen after you've completed it will be that your arms now dangle lifelessly from your shoulders and just about the only bad thing resulting from that is that you'll have to ask other people to open doors for you and do other things requiring hand motion. But if you do an insane leg workout, you won't be able to get to the door, much less ask someone to open it for you. Crumpling into a limp heap is very much of a possibility in this case. Okay, but pain is pleasure so I think that's awesome. Hahaha.