Friday, December 22, 2006

Presenting to you...

The World's Biggest Fart. Chew Ching Wei Dennis.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Oh-kay! I haven't felt so pumped in a while now! Going back to Singapore tomorrow for winter break, which makes me unbelievably happy, even if it's only for fifteen days! I finally ended exams today with my fifth final, which I initially thought would be an absolutely horrendous two hours because I felt dangerously unprepared, but it turned out to be pretty decent. And as luck would have it, I decided to try checking Wolverine Access to see if any of my grades had been posted online yet. And I got an even better surprise when it turned out that the result for my first final had been posted, and I received an A+ for POLSCI 354: Govts and Politics of SEA! Okay this is really making me feel a lot better, the past few days have been a whirlwind of non-stop studying and exams and just about little time for anything else- I only managed to get in 45min of spinning on Mon and Wed and some weights today after my final, can't wait to get back to SG when I can hole myself up in the gym all day! Whooooooopee. Holidays!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

falling hard and fast

Mine, immaculate dream
Made breath and skin
I've been waiting for you
Signed, with a home tattoo
Happy birthday to you was created for you

Can't ever keep from falling apart
At the seams
Can I believe you're taking my heart
To pieces

Oh, it'll take a little time
Might take a little crime
To come undone now

We'll try to stay blind
To the hope and fear outside
Hey child, stay wilder than the wind
And blow me in to cry

Who do you need
Who do you love
When you come undone

Words, playing me deja vu
Like a radio tune
I swear I've heard before

Chill, is it something real
Or the magic I'm feeding off your fingers

Can't ever keep from falling apart
At the seams
Can I believe you're taking my heart
To pieces

Lost, in a snow filled sky
We'll make it alright
To come undone

Thursday, December 07, 2006

On my way to see my friends
Who lived a couple blocks away from me
As I walked through the subway
It must have been about quarter past three
In front of me
Stood a beautiful honey with a beautiful body
She asked me for the time
I said it'd cost her her name
A six digit number
And a date with me tomorrow at nine

Did she decline? No
Didn't she mind? I don't think so
Was it for real? Damn sure
What was the deal? A pretty girl aged 24
So was she keen? She couldn't wait
Cinnamon queen? Let me update
What did she say? She said she'd love to rendezvous

She asked me what we were gonna do
Said we'd start with a bottle of moet for two

Took her for a drink on Tuesday
We were making love by Wednesday
And on Thursday & Friday & Saturday
We chilled on Sunday
I met this girl on Monday
Took her for a drink on Tuesday
We were making love by Wednesday
And on Thursday & Friday & Saturday
We chilled on Sunday

Nine was the time
Cos I'll be getting mine
And she was looking fine
Smooth talker
She told me
She'd love to unfold me all night long
Ooh I loved the way she kicked it
From the front to back she flipped
(back she flipped it, ooh the way she kicked it)
And I oh oh I yeah
Hope that she'd care
Cos I'm a man who'll always be there

Ooh yeah
I'm not a man to play around baby
Ooh yeah
Cos a one night stand isn't really fair
From the first impression girl hmm you don't seem to be like that
Cos there's no need to chat for there'll be plenty for that
From the subway to my home
Endless ringing of my phone
When you feeling all alone
All you gotta do
Is just call me
Call me

Craig David - Seven Days

Monday, December 04, 2006

First off, congrats to all the people I know who participated in last Sunday's Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon! Regardless of whether you did the 10k, sampled a taste of long distances with the 21k, or went all out and completed the 42k- having finished the race is a wonderful accomplishment in itself. I heard the weather was actually quite conducive for running, cloudy skies and not too warm. I will have to try the Singapore Marathon one day, but probably not any time soon because it doesn't coincide with any of my term breaks. Meanwhile I'll just pursue my marathon-running in the USA!

"You pass out before you die". I took this quote off the Facebook profile of my teammate/ coach for the Michigan Powerlifting Club. Isn't it true? Okay, maybe it's kind of perverse, but it really makes a whole lot of sense when you're a few steps away from the barbell and all psyched to perform your lift. Powerlifting and triathlons/ marathons are worlds apart- not just due to perhaps the most obvious reason that the former is a strength/ explosive power sport while the latter two are endurance sports. In powerlifting you only have one shot. You either make it or you don't, and it all comes down to the matter of a few seconds once you grasp the barbell with your chalked grip. Marathons and triathlons are different. You have to apportion your energy and reserve over the distance, which can be almost too much to fathom. Both are painful- powerlifing; through the excruciating few seconds when you utilize just about every ounce of will and every muscle fiber to perform the lift, endurance events; the mental anguish and prolonged agony that accompanies the fatigue caused by lactic acid buildup. Most people would find it odd to pursue both of these sports, perhaps citing the incongruity of training fast-twitch muscle fibers through powerlifting, while simultaneously building endurance with slow and sustained efforts. But I guess at this current point in time it's still possible for me to do both- after all, life is short and I don't want to regret not having tried something I'd have loved to. And if anything, the speed and power gained from powerlifting definitely have a discernible impact on helping me with regards to my endurance pursuits. Even for endurance sports, long and slow is definitely not the way to go all the time- I find speed intervals and varying resistance levels absolutely crucial to the performance function.

On another note, I think winter has finally arrived for good in Ann Arbor after a series of false alarms. The ground outside is covered in about an inch or two of snow. Drats. I'm not much of a winter person because it's, well, cold, and it's nearly impossible to run outside when there's ice blanketing the ground or heavy snowfall which restricts visibility. I managed to go for a run before the snowfall started today, though, and so I'm quite glad I worked that into my schedule. The early-morning thrice-a-week erg sessions with my teammate from the novice crew team last year are working out splendidly. Today we both admitted to each other that there was probably no way we would either have left our beds if we hadn't had the obligation to each other to meet at 0630 hours to row. And that's why I'm thankful for accountability and great friends like her who are similarly motivated, because it just adds to the meaning I derive from doing such things. And I'm slowly rediscovering my mojo for erging, which is great since it's probably one of the most beneficial forms of exercise, and proper form and technique ranks up there as one of the most important and valued things I took away from my year in Michigan Rowing. Especially since erging is only really useful when you know how to do it right- I've seen countless numbers of people get tangled up in themselves by moving the wrong body parts at wrong times, and it kind of prevents them from deriving any sort of benefit from the workout. Anyway I don't even suppose I did it entirely right myself before I was actually taught the step-by-step fundamentals. It's not easy, but it's pretty worth learning and knowing.

Okay time to get some work done!

Psalm 138
Of David.

1 I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart;
before the "gods" I will sing your praise.

2 I will bow down toward your holy temple
and will praise your name
for your love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.

3 When I called, you answered me;
you made me bold and stouthearted.

4 May all the kings of the earth praise you, O LORD,
when they hear the words of your mouth.

5 May they sing of the ways of the LORD,
for the glory of the LORD is great.

6 Though the LORD is on high, he looks upon the lowly,
but the proud he knows from afar.

7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes,
with your right hand you save me.

8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

In Christ alone
I place my trust
And find my glory in the power of the Cross

In every victory
Let it be said of me
My source of strength
My source of hope
Is Christ alone

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I spent Thanksgiving day in New Jersey with my flatmate and novice crew teammate, Sydney, as well as her family. The ten-hour drive to her relatives' place took us through the flat farmlands of Ohio and the Allegheny mountains of Pennsylvania. I don't really appreciate long periods of time cooped up in a moving vehicle, but at least Syd's family had a Durango which meant that it wasn't as cramped as a normal sedan would have been. Thanksgiving was fantastic, as usual- all the eating can't be a bad thing, right? Roast turkey (flesh of dead bird, as Syd's father put it, albeit in a rather unsavoury manner), mashed potatoes, two kinds of sweet potatoes -unabashed glee-, stuffing, Waldorf salad drenched in whipped cream and mayonnaise (a true artery-blocker), rolls and gravy. Cheesecake, pecan, and pumpkin pie with ice cream for dessert. This is an awesome tradition.

We spent the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, in New York City. It was a 40-minute train ride from New Jersey to Penn Station in downtown Manhattan, pretty uneventful- the train passes under the Hudson River en route to Manhattan. Everyone was out in full force on the streets of downtown NYC, perhaps in attempt to walk off the pounds gained from stuffing their faces the nights before, and probably more due to the fact that it was Black Friday, when there are crazy markdowns and sales in just about every store in the US. We visited the famed department store, Macy's- I found it fascinating how there were wooden escalators in many parts of the building, opposed to the steel ones we see everywhere else. God, was it crowded. I had to emerge to the streets for air after a bit. I'm really not a fan of big crowds, the shoving and such. And I didn't really have much in mind to buy, anyway. The rest of the day saw us roaming Times Square, Bryant Park where there was a quaint art fair, and later Central Park where we got a taste of the ghetto hip-hop culture, thanks to a couple of talented breakdancers who were busking there. In the evening we went down to Greenwich Village for dinner and passed by the NYU campus- I'm so thankful I didn't pick NYU over UMich, it reminds me of SMU, only even more dreary-looking, and I really don't think I'd thrive in a city campus. Where's the greenery? Where's the open spaces? And to top it off, NYU's a Div III school in the NCAA- man I'd take the Big Ten and Div I intercollegiate sports any time.

On Saturday we stopped by Princeton University before leaving New Jersey. Now, that campus is simply amazing- it's basically just all Law Quad-esque buildings, splendid architecture and great photo opportunities. Suits the profile of an esteemed educational institution.

Time really flies after Thanksgiving- the end of term is rapidly approaching, to think classes end in 2 weeks and then it's finals time! Not particularly looking forward to that, though. Oh well. My online enrollment appointment for next semester's classes is later this afternoon- taking three Political Science classes (to think, after next semester I'll only need 5 more credits of Polsci, or 2 classes, to graduate with my bachelor's degree!), an Econ class just in case I decide to take Econ 401 during Spring and somehow squeeze a BA in Econ into my 3 years here (anyway Econ classes are a great cognate for Polsci), and a Biology class about AIDS and other health crises, to fulfill my natural science requirement. 17 credits, as has been the norm for the past 2 terms. I'm pretty happy that I got accepted into the Honors program for Political Science, which means that I'll be spending my senior year writing an Honors thesis on a topic of my choice, in conjunction with a faculty advisor. Tentatively I'll be focusing on the SEA region, probably in the area of security challenges or the economy. Tough, but I think it'll be rewarding, ultimately.

Just started running again on Sunday after taking a whole month off, tried the Arb route. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and yesterday Syd asked if I wanted to go for a "canter" (haha!) in the Arb. It turned out to be more of a "gallop", and it was even better than Sunday's run by myself, I hope I find my mojo for running again pretty soon. On a side note, I've just started erging (rowing on the ergometer) again, will be erging three times a week at 6.30 am with one of the novice rowers, my teammate from last year. I resumed erging just last week after a couple months off, working out with the varsity rowers since they didn't have organized practice during the Thanksgiving week. Surprisingly my times were not as bad as I had imagined they would be after such a prolonged time away from the dratted erg. I think I will have to stand by my assertion that erging is, beyond any shred of doubt, the superior activity when it comes to cardio. It's a non-impact exercise, dramatically reducing the chances of injury, you can do it indoors at any time, it doesn't require any form of power supply besides 2 AA batteries for the monitor, you work all the major (and minor, come to think about it) muscle groups of the body, it really brings your heart rate up for a sustained period of time if you're doing it right, you can train both explosiveness and endurance by changing the flywheel setting, and it's a machine that possesses the ability to let you get in an extremely good workout even if you are short in time. Awesome stuff.

Okay I suppose I ought to get ready for class now. Hopefully I'll have more chances to blog again!

just another day and then I'll hold you tight

Sunday, November 26, 2006

My life will never be the same
'Cause girl, you came and changed
The way I walk, the way I talk
Now I cannot explain
These things I feel for you
But girl you know it's true
So stay with me, fulfill my dreams
I'll be all you need

It feels so right
I've searched for the perfect love all my life
It feels like
I have finally found a perfect love this time

You rocked my world, you know you did
And everything I own I give
The rarest love, who'd think I'd find
Someone like you to call mine
You rocked my world, you know you did
And everything I own I give
The rarest love, who'd think I'd find
Someone like you to call mine

In time, I knew that love would bring
Such happiness to me
I tried to keep my sanity
I've waited patiently
And, girl, you know it seems
My life is so complete
A love that's true, because of you
Keep doing what you do

It feels so right
I've searched for the perfect love all my life
Who'd think I'd find
Such a perfect love that's awesomely so right

Michael Jackson You Rock My World

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Chris Lieto's sweet Trek bike at 2006 Vineman Ironman 70.3
This is where you wanna be: first to T2.

Thursdays are rest days which means that I get to kick back and generally be lazy before things return to full swing. The notion of a "rest day" has always been somewhat alien to me, but after reading literature from various sources that rest and recovery should be perceived as part of, not a departure from, a training program, I've decided that Thursday will be my de facto rest day for the winter off-season. Actually after you get past that awful mental hurdle of the crazy conviction that your fitness will plummet after not doing anything relatively taxing for a day, it starts to feel quite good. But of course that stupid fear always occupies the back of my mind, which is why I have yet to go more than a day without working out.

It's also a good time to start planning for the year ahead, working my races into my schedule, counting backwards to determine the start of my proper training program, and factoring in preparatory races along the way. Right now it's the off-season and so training volume ought to be reduced to around 70-80% of training season amounts, and intensity scaled back slightly, but not too much or you'll just undo all the gains over the past year. I really need to check out Ann Arbor Masters Swimming, just that I hate being overtaken in the pool by portly old men who look unimpressive on land but are surprisingly speedy in the water. Now, that is a real bummer for me, because swimming is my weakest link (having learnt freestyle for the first time only this summer), and it's probably the most frustrating out of the three components of triathlon because it's considerably far more skills-based than either cycling or running. I should really get over to the Masters swim sessions or I'll just become a very "fit, slow swimmer", according to an article I read which says that skills and technique are far more important than volume when it comes to swimming, and you can be really fit and swim bloody slow due to great shortcomings in efficiency. Shit, I don't want to be fit and slow.

Okay I've got a driving lesson in about ten minutes' time. Driving is amazing, need my license soon so races in the vicinity will be far more accessible!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

It's the start of November and that just about marks the halfway point of the fall term, Thanksgiving's coming and the weather's beginning to show the first signs of turning dreary. In fact I hope the cold stays away as long as possible- I'll really miss fall weather when it entirely disappears! But I don't think it'll remain much longer, the trees have already shed most of their leaves and it's already snowed twice here.

This term has been great so far. The classes I'm taking are pretty interesting, but some are definitely not easy to score in, like one of my political science classes titled "Modeling Political Processes", which is crazy abstract and fundamentally mathematical and therefore not exactly my cup of tea. Though it is intriguing.

I thought I'd have a difficult time adjusting to life without rowing, but in fact the transition has been surprisingly painless and I actually relish my newfound freedom in scheduling my own training and workouts, rather than be restricted to a team schedule. Honestly I think my not rowing this year turned out really well, because I've got far more flexibility especially when it comes to planning my new and subsequent goals. I've come to another phase in my life where I think it's time to shift my focus to other areas and sporting goals. I don't think I could go back to kayaking or rowing or even dragonboating anymore, somehow I just don't feel the affinity for those sports anymore. Though they were a huge and fundamentally important portion of my life for a substantial period of time- but I don't think they are sports which are compatible with my ideals and dreams anymore, so it's time to move on. Though I'd love to paddle a K2 any time for fun, or perhaps dragonboat for SAFSA just for kicks, they're no longer the mainstays of my sporting life.

I think this year marked my gradual shift towards more individual sporting goals. I guess it all started on a whim really, by signing up for the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon, which I ran 2 weeks ago on the cold, rainy, blustery morning of October 22nd. I don't think I had much of an idea of what I was getting into when I first signed up, it was more of a I-figure-I-can-somehow-plod-through-26.2-miles-given-that-we-did-12-km-runs-in-OCS sort of thing. And I've never been much of a endurance runner, which most of you can testify to. In fact, that is an understatement in itself. Haha. Anyway somehow I just grew into running and cross-training in the form of cycling, erging and swimming helped tons too, and the 10k runs and army half-marathon during summer break in Singapore were good primers for Chicago.

Chicago was an awesome first marathon for me, hands down. The atmosphere was electric and apparently it's one of the marathons with the best sideshows. Everyone says that the only goal you should have for your virgin marathon attempt is just to finish. I had no doubts I'd finish (how could I ever let myself down?) but a nagging twinge in my right calf forced me to re-evaluate my initial hopes of running 4:00 hours. No choice but to dose myself with ibuprofen on race day and hope to goodness nothing bad would happen. Thank God, I had a superb run and managed to come in at 3:59:15 which surpassed my expectations (even when injury-free), and I'm definitely going to run more marathons in the future, and hope they only go better from now on!

I've charted new goals for the coming year and I am forced to admit that they are, beyond a shred of a doubt, ambitious ones. Well, but I suppose nothing's impossible, given that only 8 months ago a marathon looked like the pinnacle of madness. It'll be a tough road ahead, though- in terms of nature of training- since I'll have to pick up new skills and then hone them.

I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk by your side
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When your face is before me
I can only imagine

Surrounded by your glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine when that day comes
And I find myself standing in the Son
I can only imagine when all I will do
Is forever, forever worship you
I can only imagine
I can only imagine


Sunday, October 08, 2006

And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:
for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities,
that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

- 2 Corinthians 12:9

Before the world began
You were on His mind
And every tear you cry
Is precious in His eyes
Because of His great love
He gave His only Son
Everything was done
So you would come

Nothing you can do
Could make Him love you more
And nothing that you've done
Could make Him close the door
Because of His great love
He gave His only Son
Everything was done
So you would come

Come to the Father
Though your gift is small
Broken hearts, broken lives
He will take them all
The power of the Word
The power of His blood
Everything was done
So you would come

It's time to come home.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Here's a shot of us all relaxing at Wilson's comfy bachelor pad after a dinner of:
1. two kinds of stir-fried pork- black pepper and Wilson's secret concoction (hmmm...)
2. Shanghainese-style stir-fried rice cakes (my idea- eh, nice okay? Note to self: a pack of rice cakes is FAR TOO much even if 7 people are eating)
3. Sambal (supposedly) kangkong- though we have a sneaky suspicion that we mistook the curry paste for the belachan, which is why it didn't taste like it should have
4. Efrem's homemade red bean tang yuan! Good stuff! He is a domestic genius!

Hopefully, we have more of such cooking expeditions soon!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sorry for the sporadic posts for those of you who even bother to check back here. All has been good in Ann Arbor so far, though the weather has been somewhat unpredictable and it's been raining more frequently than I'd like. The past few weeks has been a whirlwind of trying out my initial class schedule, dropping classes and selecting new ones, wondering what's the maximum number of credits I should elect this term without completely sacrificing my sanity. Dropped Econ 401 for Public Policy which seems to be panning out quite nicely- it's far more interesting, and decided against continuing with Russian Politics for a Polsci course on modeling political processes. So all is well, at least until the exams come.

Training for Chicago has been pretty awesome too. The marathon's exactly four weeks away- it'll be time to start tapering maybe after next week, or something. I've been clocking mileage like nobody's business- sometimes when I think about it, I figure I'd think I was completely insane if I had ever conjured up the thought that I'd be doing somewhere in the range of 50-60 miles a week. It's pretty crazy. Especially when I look back on how in secondary school I used to think 2.4 km was so damn bloody far and thankfully we only had to put ourselves through that unnecessary torture once a year. In JC I slowly got weaned onto running, with canal routes and all for canoeing, but it still wasn't something I enjoyed, because I was terribly prone to stitches (much less now, thankfully, but it still happens at the worst times). And I remember how I used to think Leqi and Shine (I'm sorry, but I really did think you were nuts!) were absolutely bonkers for signing up for StanChart and doing various other mad things like going for a run along the MRT route. But anyway back to the point. Now I can't live without running.

Today's training run organized by the Tortoise and Hare Running Store was a great run for me. It was more of a recovery run because I did 15 miles yesterday and so I thought I'd take the 10 miles easy today. Managed to settle into a really comfortable cadence at around 8:45min/ mile and it felt awesome despite the blustery wind and slopes at the end that I picked up my pace and finished in an hour and 24 minutes. What was surprising was that I wasn't even winded at the end and I was even contemplating doing 14 miles because it felt like I still had plenty of energy to spare. But I decided against the additional four because of the 15 miles yesterday and I didn't want to risk anything so near the marathon. Anyway my mileage this week was pretty substantial- 20 miles at an easy 9:30 pace last Sunday, hilly route Monday of about 7 miles (quite unwise considering the 20 miles the day before), 2 6-mile tempo runs on Wednesday, one in the morning and another in the afternoon, another 2 6-milers on Thursday (I don't know what's with the 6 miles, but I like that route), 15 miles on Saturday and the 10 miles today. That's 66 miles in total, I've realized... Oh well.

Anyway Dean Karnazes has finished 8 of his 50 marathons, 42 more to go... Amazing. I'm looking forward to joining him at Chicago!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Wow, I haven't blogged in about a month and a half. I keep putting it off somehow, it becomes a bit of a drag sometimes. It's mainly a tool to keep people back home in the loop with regards to how things are coming along in my life over at the other end of the world. I must say the first week of school has passed awfully slowly. Maybe it's because I'm maxing out on term credits- 18 credit hours, and it seems like there's a ton of work to be done. Which is terribly true. I can't even remember the courses I'm taking sometimes, because it's more than I'm accustomed to. I think it's probably because 3 of my courses are 3-credit classes with 4-credit workloads, and so that piles on the stress. Haha. I'm doing 3 political science courses in an attempt to attain my major as quickly as I can- Russian politics, Southeast Asian politics, and international political economy. In addition, I'm taking a German conversation course, a 1-credit course which looks to be great fun since I've been so lucky as to get perhaps the best German instructor ever for my weekly hour-long class. The remaining 8 credits go to Econ 401 (Intermediate Microeconomics), and Econ 404 (Statistics for Economists). I envision these two courses dealing me a slow death if I don't keep up with the work, because 401 is highly math-reliant and 404 is, well, all about statistics. Just yesterday I almost died doing basic differentiation for 401. Thankfully it all started coming back to me after a few frantic minutes of scribbling and jabbing calculator buttons. Hopefully it gets better. Screw math, I thought I'd never have to use it again... Oh well, I guess that's what you get for being an econ major in the US.

Elected not to continue with crew this year for a couple of reasons, especially since I don't think I'll particularly enjoy slogging away on the ergometer for the rest of my Michigan life. Because I don't think I'll ever see the interior of a boat again. Hunting desperately for another sport to altogether consume my life, it's a tough job. So far only triathlon makes the cut, except that the UM Tri Club's a fledgling organization run by 18-year-olds and doesn't particularly catch my fancy. I think I'll have to look to the Ann Arbor Tri Club to provide me with more semblance of proper training. I need some structure, now that I've left rowing.

The new apartment at Tappan is pretty good. I'm pleased with my own room and my flatmates are awesome, save for the fact that our fridge is kinda packed and we are having a wee bit of trouble finding what belongs to whom. At least we managed to get a decent cable/ internet deal from Comcast and hooked up the router yesterday night (no easy task, considering the tangle of cables and the fact that the previous occupants of our flat did strange things like drilling holes in the walls and passing cables through them), and so I've finally got internet access.

Life is generally good- well, at least until it's time to hand up the next econ problem set assignment.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

What is Endurance?

This is endurance.

50 marathons, 50 states, 50 continuous days.
Dean Karnazes begins The North Face Endurance 50, the ultimate running expedition on September 17 in Missouri, and aims to finish 1,310 miles later on November 5th in New York City. Along the way, he will transcend preconceived notions of human endurance to inspire people to test their own personal limits.

Most of the time it all comes down to discipline and will.
Read more at his blog here.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Whether I'm right or wrong
There's no phrase that hits
Like an ocean needs the sand
Or a dirty old shoe that fits
And if all the world was perfect
I would only ever want to see your scars
You know they can have their universe
We'll be in the dirt designing stars

And, darling, you know
You make me feel so beautiful
Nowhere else in the world I wanna be
You make me feel so beautiful

Whether I'm up or down
There's no crowd to please
I'm like a faith without a clause to believe in it
And if all the world was smiling
I would only ever want to see your frown
You know they can sail away in sunsets
We'll be right here stranded on the ground
Just happy to be found

You make me feel so beautiful
Nowhere else in the world I wanna be
You make me feel so beautiful

I have lost my illusions
I have drowned in your words
I have left my confusion to a cynical world
I am throwing myself at things I don't understand
Discover enlightenment holding your hand

You are so beautiful

Yeah, darling, you know
That you make me feel so beautiful

Darren Hayes So Beautiful

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Okay, got the Airborne wings in time for my birthday, perhaps one of the best presents ever! But we were issued the old dark-green badges and so now I've to hunt for the ones on olive-green backing. Honestly, the implementation of the new Army dress rules have proved to be quite a hassle, especially since no one in my formation seems to have any inkling whatsoever when it comes to the formation and arms badges. Which is not a good sign, because we're supposed to get everything altered by 1st July. And the alterations burn quite a hole in the pocket- I know I shouldn't be complaining, since there are probably others who have it far worse- but I'd have to say the Beach Road Army Market stallholders are probably making a killing right now by charging unprecedented prices for all the sewing they've been doing of late. So far life in the unit has been decent, just lie low and don't attract the wrong sort of attention and I think I should survive till the end of my attachment. Anyway training is at a lull now, excepting NDP (which is crazy busy) so my weekdays are not as packed as I'd imagined them to be, but I foresee all my Saturdays up till the end of NDP being entirely burnt by combined rehearsals, NE show, Preview and the like. Cookhouse food is surprisingly palatable and they're generous with fruit so I really can't ask for more. Endurance/ AHM training runs are mainly held at ECP which is just across the expressway from camp and it's nice to run there so that's pretty good. I've come up with a good 3km running circuit in camp so every morning I go at it at least twice or thrice (or maybe even four times, if I'm so inclined). Which brings to mind the fact that the 10-km Mizuno Wave Run is scheduled for the 23rd of July and I think I'll be entering for the heck of it since the start/end point (Kovan Hub) is barely ten minutes' walk from my place. So if anyone wants to join me just let me know. Come to think of it, will be leaving for Michigan in scarcely more than two months' time. I think I will have to make the most of the time I have left here! Four months seems like a lot, initially- but half of it's already gone and I have to do what I can to make the remaining two last!

Anyway the National Dragonboat Championships are this weekend, man, it brings back memories of JC paddling days! Only that now I'm rowing for SAFSA in this race which is quite a different experience altogether. But it will be good. Hope we will get something out of it! I've learnt to appreciate dragonboat rowing far more as compared to back in JC, where it was just a method of team bonding and a half-hearted attempt at winning more medals (we were denied in both our tries, being edged out by a split second in the first and a large wave in the subsequent year). Far more teams have sprung up, which makes the competition admittedly stronger, but my faith lies with the Commandos and the SAFSA girls! The motivation has definitely altered now but I know when it comes to the crunch some things just don't ever change- taking it one stroke at a time, all the way to the finish line!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"The Sky is the Limit, The World is my Dropzone."

After completing an intensive three weeks of ground training in my Basic Airborne Course, I made my first jump today, Tuesday! It was such a wonderful experience that I'd like to share it with you guys. I must say all the sweat and pain was worth it, every single bit. Ground training was gruelling- mastering parachute landing falls by hurling ourselves in every possible direction, from four-foot-high platforms and swing trainers, doing 5-storey tower jumps, aircraft drills, lugging bloody heavy parachutes about... Oh, and I was the only female in the course of 160 trainees so naturally people tended to take a more prurient interest in me and how I was coping. All was well and good though.

Third time lucky after having done 5-hour pre-jump preparations, gone down all the way to the airbase on both last Friday and Monday in anticipation of jumping, only to be thwarted by thunderstorm warnings both times. I was almost certain it'd be the same today because the skies were grey and overcast and didn't bode well for our chances of making our jumps. But thankfully enough no ill-weather advisories were issued and the green light was given for us to do our jumps. So we para-fitted (put on our harnesses and static-line parachute packs), went through the mandatory checks by two separate instructors, before we were cleared to board the CH-47 Chinook rotary-wing aircraft. Para-fitting is awfully uncomfortable, to say the least, because you basically have to be strapped in as tightly and as securely as humanly possible for safety reasons, and so I could barely breathe after being sandwiched between the main chute on my back and the reserve chute in front of my torso. Not to forget the life jacket which goes on under the main chute, the ankle braces for landing protection, and the padded helmet. We were also required to arrange ourselves within pass level (a pass consists of 8 jumpers who are dropped in intervals of one second over a designated drop zone before the aircraft circles back to start another drop) in order of weight, from heaviest to the lightest. The rate of descent is proportional to weight. And since I was the only female in my entire airborne course I was also naturally the smallest (I know you probably don't need
to be reminded of this fact, but just in case) and so I became the last jumper in the second pass of the first sortie (a sortie consists of 3 passes- one sortie boards the aircraft at any one time).

So we waddled in an ungainly fashion to the point where we were supposed to board the aircraft, and were promptly herded on board like a pack of lambs to the slaughter. By this time you could see it, people were excited yet apprehensive. It was practically impossible to hear anything over the noise of the engine and overhead rotors. Strangely enough, I wasn't as scared as I thought I would be, until we gained enough altitude (1000 ft) and the first pass got up to hook their static lines to the cable, do the necessary equipment once-overs and shuffle towards the open ramp door. All too soon it was our turn. The jumpmaster gave the following commands accompanied by handsigns- his voice was almost unheard over the din.

"STAND UP!" I stood up and almost immediately toppled into someone's lap due to the
instability of the moving aircraft.
"HOOK UP!" After regaining my balance (but unfortunately not so much my composure) I
hooked the clasp connecting my static line onto the cable running parallel along the
length of the aircraft, inserted the safety pin and bent it downwards.
"CHECK STATIC LINE!" We tugged at the clasps to ensure that they were securely clipped on to the cable. "EQUIPMENT CHECK!" We had rehearsed this so many times on the ground but somehow I still managed to spout some unintelligible gibberish. "Helmet, Capewell, Life Jacket, Chest Strap, Reserve Snap, Rip Cord, Pack Tie, Static Line, Clear and Hook Up!"
Only it didn't sound like that coming from me, more like "Mmmmffgghhhhhhhhh... Clear and Hook Up!"
"SOUND OFF FOR EQUIPMENT CHECK!" I was the last jumper so I shouted (not like anyone
could hear anything, anyway) "EIGHT OKAY!" and tapped the back of the guy in front of me, who in turn went "SEVEN OKAY!", all the way to the first guy who went "ONE OKAY, STICK OKAY!" (a stick is another name for a pass) "5 SECONDS, STAND IN THE DOOR!" We moved forward in sync, having adopted a right-left shuffle step movement, and the first jumper stood in the door. "GO!" Out went Jumper No. 1, and we shuffled forward. "GO!" Out went Jumper No. 2, and we shuffled forward. ...
"GO!" Out went Jumper No. 7, and as he fell I was left with a far too clear view of the thousand feet of air below me. Didn't have much time to think about it, though, because the next thing I knew I heard "GO!", I took a step out into nothingness, assisted by the jumpmaster's helpful push. This was a moment unlike any other I have ever experienced. It's plainly indescribable- I mean, how can you ever encapsulate the feeling of stepping out into thin air and the tumultuous thoughts that go on inside your head? I vaguely remember falling fast while uttering "one thousand, two thousand, three..." and I think by then my canopy deployed and I felt a gentle tug and my rate of descent slowed. I quickly breathed "Thank God!" and reached for my toggles to gain control of my drift and direction and also to ensure that I wouldn't land on the runway below. One thing I was struck by was how peaceful and serene it was up there. It was so unbelievably quiet after the din of the aircraft, and I felt like I was floating, suspended in the air, altogether surreal- it didn't even feel like a descent, the only clue that gave it away was how the objects on the ground were rapidly becoming larger. I quickly orientated myself to face into the wind so as to slow my forward drift, and looked around for a suitable landing spot unmarred by obstacles or other jumpers. All too soon I heard the safety officer shouting through his loudhailer "Jumper No. 8, prepare for landing... landing any moment
now!" Kept my feet, knees locked tight, toes pointed upwards, chin tucked towards chest, and prepped for landing. The ground rushed towards me and I landed on the flat of my feet (marvelous!) and promptly sat down with an "oof!". It was awesome. Quickly got to my feet and ran around like a headless chicken in glee for a while before remembering that I ought to fold my canopy and exit the drop zone. I was in the midst of gathering my canopy when I heard "LAND!" come from somewhere dangerously near to above my head and looked up to see one of the Gurkhas heading towards me from above. I quickly moved away only to see him land on my canopy and simultaneously kick my reserve chute a few feet away. Pretty close shave, it would have been perversely amusing but not the best thing if he had landed on me. I packed up my chute, slung it over my shoulder, and made the long trek back to the hangar area.

So there you go- a synopsis of my first jump! It was such a surreal experience which I enjoyed thoroughly. It's almost impossible to say everything in words, because I think it's something which can only be understood after going through the experience itself. I will be jumping at least once more on Thursday, this time from a Fokker-50 fixed-wing aircraft, and hopefully once after that on Thursday evening, from a C-130 Charlie fixed-wing aircraft.

Hopefully those two jumps go well, and I'll get my AIRBORNE wings!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Will be booking back in to Hendon Camp at 2300 hrs to await the start of a long week ahead. We've been prepped mentally by the instructors to be prepared for a tough time especially with all the parachute drills and all. And I'm not a big fan of heights so definitely it's not going to be exactly easy-going for me particularly when we get to the tower jump and of course the real plunge from the C-130. In the course I'm the only female as well so naturally I tend to be on the receiving end of more attention than I would actually care for, especially from the instructors. Always kena picked to answer questions or conveniently referred to in the process of their discourse. It's okay, lah- all that I can handle, and the guys in the course whom I've met so far have been nice as well. And Ruijie, Edwin and Tai Wei keep me pretty sane too so that's good. But cannot complain, we get to book out every night. Even though I have some doubts about whether I'd have the time or energy to make the arduous journey from Changi back home. We'll see how it goes. In the end I just hope I get my wings without injury.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

cannot believe you're taking my heart

... to pieces

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I've been posted to 3 Guards at Bedok Camp beginning next Monday, for my vacation attachment. Basic Airborne Course starts next Thursday, assuming I make it through the selection test which I think shouldn't be much of a factor, but of course there's never any room for complacency. God willing I'll get my wings as a timely birthday present. Even though I'm not a big fan of heights, but it's time to face my fears, and, quite literally, step out into the unknown. Hooyah!

Hopefully this vacation attachment will give me plentiful opportunities for dynamic learning and I won't be reduced to handling admin stuff, because that will be a bummer. Time to bid farewell to these 3 blissful weeks of working out thrice a day and wondering how else to spend my time otherwise. Looking forward to returning to military life, it's been quite a while. Need to touch base once again.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I think I much prefer blog-surfing to updating my own blog, which kind of explains the sporadic posts. Just read Philip's post about running and I'm inclined to agree with what he said. I never was a big fan of running in the past because it always gave me awful side stitches, and the weather here isn't very conducive to running especially in the afternoon heat. Even though we did a fair bit of running back in the canoeing days, those pre-SDBA intervals and canal runs, I still wasn't particularly fond of it. But after BMT and OCS and 5BX in the mornings which involved short runs, and endurance runs as well as interval training, I gradually came to appreciate how it was a pretty efficient method of exercise and perhaps one of the best cardio workouts. So I started running a lot more during and after military training last year. Running was also an excellent method of sightseeing- in Melbourne, Bangkok and Chicago I'd lace up my shoes and head out of the door for loping morning jaunts ranging from thirty minutes to slightly over an hour in duration, just taking in the sights the cities offered and relishing the relative peace and quiet the early hour provided. In Michigan I did a fair bit of running, especially in the fall and towards the tail end of winter. During the harshest period of winter, around November-January, I didn't get out as much as I'd have liked to, because of the heavy-duty erging sessions and the fact that the pavements were often cloaked in a thick layer of slippery ice. I did go for a couple runs in sub-zero weather, though- bundled up in UnderArmor, running spandex and beanie, but it wasn't easy having to gingerly pick my way around the icy spots, which often reduced my pace to something resembling a shuffle. And if you know me, I'd never run on the treadmill because that's a fate worse than death- I go absolutely balmy just plodding along for two minutes on the deck. As I grew more accustomed to running, my runs became longer, and I often spent between an hour to two hours on the road at any one time. The monthly 10-milers held by the Tortoise and Hare Running Store at Ann Arbor were a great way to inject an occasional dose of excitement into my long Sunday recovery runs. Back in Singapore right now I run alternate days, which is working out really great because I'll be less prone to get bored of it. I signed up for the Chicago Marathon to be held later this year, in October, and I think it'll be an unforgettable experience. Will probably be taking IPPT in the next few weeks- hopefully I manage to attain a respectable 2.4 timing in testament to my training. Haha.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Wah, this blog has been dormant for a very long time. When I come back to Singapore I hardly use the computer, whereas in Michigan if I'm not out and about, away from my room, I'm probably glued to my notebook monitor. So that helps to explain the pretty sporadic updates as well. Anyway so lately I've been quite free, my life predominantly revolves around home, the swimming pool, and Fitness First, and occasional ambling around town. Which isn't a bad existence in itself, in fact it's pretty nice, but not something I think I could do forever. Today I finally discovered the SAFSA Ladies' Dragonboat team which I've been hunting for forever, and it was good paddling in a 12-crew dragonboat again except that it feels deathly slow after the relative lightness of a rowing eight, or a K2 for that matter. I think dragonboating has become hugely popular especially of late- people even own their own paddles now! And they even use fiberglass paddles, which I felt was pretty sweet. Those SDBA-supplied ones are like bloody logs. Okay lah, I've been tagged twice and I think I should do something about it, but not now because it's bedtime. :)

Monday, May 01, 2006

Back in Singapore for four months! The flight back was pretty uneventful except that there was a delay due to engine problems which forced us to switch planes before takeoff from Detroit, and everyone missed their connecting flights. Spent a night in Japan, courtesy of Northwest Airlines, but it wasn't such a shabby deal after all despite reaching home about 15 hours after I was originally scheduled to. At least I didn't reach Singapore at such a godforsaken hour, and I can't really complain about a night's stay in Japan with breakfast and the works. My first entire day in Singapore has just about ended and I'm just getting reacquainted with the horribly humid weather here. Went running this morning, about 6 miles and I don't know if I was running really fast or something or just not getting acclimatized to the weather but my heart rate was pretty high, around 90% of max HR which was kind of weird. And when I returned I was positively dripping. This is crazy weather, I'm not sure I like it very much. Haha. Sometimes it's pretty much a toss-up between the heat and humidity of Singapore and the chilling wind of Michigan- I'm hard-pressed to pick one over the other. Oh well, can't complain now, can I? Signed up for a membership at Fitness First for the duration of my summer vacation, am pretty pleased because it seems like a good deal considering what a gym rat I am, and their clubs are kinda sweet. Especially the one at George Street which I shall have to check out. The Paragon one is pretty nice except that it's slightly small, but that personal trainer- what's his name- that hot one who appeared on the cover of Men's Health and who burnt up the sidewalks a couple years back with the pic of him in the buff for the smoking hot Virgin Mobile advert at bus stops and the like- works there, so that's also a treat. Haha. Met up with EC and went for a much-needed haircut, it was great talking to her and she has a sweet bike as well! Makes me feel like learning riding. Haha.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ah, leaving for home in less than 24 hours' time.
Mixed feelings here, I know I'll miss Ann Arbor a great deal. It's strange, I was raring to go home like nothing else in December for winter break- but now... now, it's different. The elation is muted. Although I'm definitely looking forward to seeing everyone at home, there're just so many things here that I'll miss, and I can't even begin to list them all. But definitely a great part of what I'll dreadfully miss about Michigan is the people, the friends and teammates especially. Well, thankfully I'll be back in four months' time so it's not as though I'm leaving for good. Man, if I'm already feeling like that, could you possibly imagine how I'd feel after graduating from UMich? Nah, not the time to think about that right now. Anyway, on to happier things! Really looking forward to seeing you guys back in Singapore! Jio me out okay. Hahaha! Give me a call or text me at my usual SG no.!

And packing is a bloody bitch. Sian.

Monday, April 24, 2006

It's been a while, hasn't it?

Anyway life is pretty sweet now that I'm 3/4ths done with exams and only have World Politics left on Wednesday. After having gotten through today without much mishap I'm feeling much better about myself and the rest of the week. Two papers today- German and Great Books, with only an hour separating them both, so it was pretty hectic as you can possibly imagine. Somehow I've grown to appreciate the laid-back, casual attitude most people adopt here, which manifests itself in even the most unexpected forms. Like during the German exam today, the course coordinator (he's a great guy called Hartmut who has a penchant for the oddest T-shirts ever) brought along a huge box of snacks- Fig Newtons, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, cookies, etc, and passed them out during the exam itself. I think that was a gesture that was much appreciated by most of the students, and somehow, albeit in a small way, it's a demonstration of how much more flexible and accommodating the system here is as compared to back home. Somehow, I just don't see the professors in the local universities passing out Pocky sticks and Hello Panda biscuits to the students during examinations.

And on a totally unrelated note, I was climbing the stairs up to my room in South Quad (SQuad) and it suddenly struck me that I hadn't seen an escalator in a substantial amount of time. Which immediately brought to mind what Bill Bryson related in his book on small-town America- I can't remember exactly, but he narrated how he could buy postcards of backcountry farmers "grasping the handrails on moving walkways bravely", which were astutely captioned "I rode the escalator at the Town Mall!". Ah, the joys of (relatively) suburban America.

Home in a couple days! Does anyone want a workout partner? Only bother letting me know if you're willing to be as hardcore as me. Hahaha.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

She said I don’t know if I’ve ever been good enough
I’m a little bit rusty, and I think my head is caving in
And I don’t know if I’ve ever really been loved
By the hand that’s touched me, well I feel like something gonna give
And I’m a little bit angry, well

This ain’t over, no not here, not while I still need you
You don’t owe me, we might change
Yeah we just might feel good

I wanna push you around, I will, I will
I wanna push you down, I will, I will
I wanna take you for granted
I will

She said I don’t know why you ever would lie to me
Like I’m a little untrusting when I think that the truth is
Gonna hurt ya
And I don’t why you couldn’t just stay with me
You couldn’t stand to be near me
When my face don’t seem to want to shine cuz it’s a little bit dirty well

Don’t just stand there, say nice things to me
I’ve been cheated, I’ve been wronged, and you
You don’t know me, I can’t change
I won’t do anything at all

Oh but don’t bowl me over
Just wait a minute well it kinda fell apart, things get so
Crazy, crazy
Don’t rush this, baby
Matchbox Twenty :: Push

Monday, April 17, 2006

The sides of my shins have been scraped raw after water practice today, and my hands are torn apart. Practice was good even though the sun was in my eyes half the time and I couldn't see shit but I guess there's nothing much to be seen when you're involved in a sport where you're not supposed to be able to see where you're headed. If you can actually see where you're going it only means that you're rowing in the wrong direction and had better do something about it quickly. Today's training reinforced just exactly how much of an entire-body workout rowing is, because if you think about it you're basically doing an endless series of squats and crunches in a seated position over the course of 2,000 meters just so you can coax your twelve-foot-long wooden attachment into propeling you forward as quickly as possible. Of course at the same time you have to keep the boat "set" (or stabilised), if not half of the rowers will have their oars four feet above the water while the other half will be frantically trying to rescue their oars from the clutches of the lake. Sometimes this process repeats itself to no end which is positively unsettling (pun fully intended). But at least we're all so much better especially if you look at how much we've improved since last Fall when we first started out. I haven't yet popped out of my shoes which I'm eternally grateful for. The experience of popping out of your shoes is pretty nasty particularly because it always occurs when you're least expecting it. Like you'll be focusing so hard on your stroke and feathering the blade (turning the blade parallel to the water surface to minimize air resistance) and all of a sudden you dig the blade in too deep and whoosh you find yourself in the lap of the perplexed rower behind you. Thankfully for me I haven't ended up in anyone's lap outside my will yet but that's only because I'm always rowing starboard in the bow seat (that's the last seat in the boat), and so there's no one behind me. But that only means that when I pop out (which used to happen far too often for my liking) I am faced with a very immediate danger of flying out of the boat entirely, and to be truthful I'd much prefer being in someone's lap than watching the 7 rowers + 1 coxswain row past me (remember, they can't see where they're headed, they'll only know once they go past...) Okay I don't know why I'm blogging about this when I have a Comms exam tomorrow which would be in my best interest to study for.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

It's not the best idea in the world to fling yourself wholeheartedly into a vigorous weights session after not having come within a couple meters of iron in a while. There's that odd quivering sensation that tells me that I am going to have a ton of fun attempting to get out of bed tomorrow morning. Since everyone is tapering for crew we've ceased doing weights- instead we do a 15-station circuit once a week- the way I see it, it's more of an injury-prevention workout. You know, with resistance bands and Bosu balls and newfangled core thingamajigs. But of course you shouldn't underestimate them, especially the resistance bands. Whew you'd never think an innocuous-looking, brightly-colored piece of elastic tubing could make you sink to your knees in submission but try doing band pull-aparts or striding across the room with the tubing wrapped around your ankles and see if you aren't drenched in perspiration when it's time to head to the next station. Anyway come to think of it I don't know why I disliked the gym at the IMSB (Intramural Sports Building) at first and preferred the one at the CCRB (Central Campus Recreational Building) because now I swear by the former and hardly ever go to the latter. And there are more meatheads at the CCRB to boot, I don't know why, maybe the IM building is too far for them and perhaps they're afraid that by trudging the extra distance it'll be too much cardio and that'll deplete precious nutrients which could be otherwise used for muscle growth. But the meatheads are really funny sometimes, there's this guy who's perpetually plugged into his iPod when he's working out and he'll start belting out off-key tunes in between sets, which really irks me but I don't want to say anything for fear of being thwacked by a stack of 45-pound plates. And there's this hairy Polish guy (well I don't know if he's really Polish but he was wearing a torn Polska singlet so maybe he is) and he makes a ton of noise while he's at the weights, you know, those typical rugger grunts and overexaggerated exhalations and all. Man, you really see all sorts at the gym. It's so funny, especially when they start preening and flexing in front of the mirror when they think no one is looking (come to think of it, it should be when they think people are looking) and I have to silently hold back my laughter. Okay tomorrow is going to be one hell of a sore day, I can just feel it right now, not good since there's morning erg to boot. Oh well.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The RJC Geography Students of 2004!

Good times, those...

Oh, irony of ironies. The invitation mailed out to me in recognition of "great scholastic achievements" has two spelling errors in the very first sentence.

Dear Michigan Student-Athlete,

In recognition of your great scholastic achievements, you have been
awarded the Univeristy of Michigan Athletic Academic Acheivement Award. To be recognized and receive your award, The University of Michigan
Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Academic Success Program
cordially invites you to the 2006 Academic Achievement Awards Reception
on Tuesday, April 11, 2006 in the Michigan Union Ballroom. Please plan
to arrive promptly at 7:15 p.m. Please email Ruquel McKinnie at if you are not able to attend. Thanks and

Maher Mark Salah
Director of Student-Athlete Development
Academic Advisor
University of Michigan Athletics


Well, I suppose I should be grateful for an Athletic Academic Acheivement Award bestowed on me by the Univeristy of Michigan, nonetheless.


So here's the classes I've registered to take in Fall 2006:
GERMAN 205 Conversation
POLSCI 354 Governments & Politics of Southeast Asia
POLSCI 369 International Economic Relations
ECON 401 Intermediate Microeconomic Theory
ECON 404 Statistics for Economists
and hopefully, since application for writing positions only open in Summer,
POLSCI 290 Practicum for the Michigan Journal of Political Science

Looks like I've got an interesting semester ahead! Finally I'm departing the realm of concentration prerequisites, which entail 100-level courses, and entering uncharted territory where the courses are all 300-level or higher. For the life of me I'm interested to see how I'll fare in Economics, having spent much of my second year in RJC either: 1. snoozing facedown in the crook of my arm during Mr S's riveting econ tutorials, 2. busying myself with last-minute homework during lectures in chilly LT4, or 3. occupying myself with alternative activities entirely unrelated to 1 and 2, (like going to Ghim Moh for tau huay and tang yuan), having applied the concepts of opportunity cost and cost-benefit analysis in deciding to do so. See, at least elementary concepts come in handy! Ha. Well at least I faithfully attended every (okay, perhaps I exaggerate, but more than I'd have cared to) Economics 'S' paper lecture, even though I had absolutely no inkling of what was been taught in class. Given my admirable track record, I'm pretty convinced next semester will be a blast, especially since Economics in the US is reputed to be heavy on the mathematics and less so on writing... Oh how I am going to enjoy myself.

Okay, enough with the tongue-in-cheek rambling. Truth be told, I'm looking forward to the two Political Science courses I'll be taking. It surprises me how much I'm enjoying Polsci, because although I knew I'd probably appreciate it, I didn't think I'd like it THAT much. And it'll be good to take the course in SEA politics since that's a topic which is close to home and therefore somewhat more applicable than other courses... like Comm 101 which I'm taking now, and gradually discovered through the course of the term that it focused exclusively on the American media, which happens to be somewhat removed from what I foresee as the nature of my job in future.

No time on my schedule for a full 4-credit second-year college level German course next semester, so I'll have to settle for a conversation course in the meantime. Perhaps it's a blessing in disguise, as my intention of learning German is mainly for communication and utilitarian purposes, rather than possessing a scholarly objective in mind. But I hope to take German 231 in the subsequent semester, if time allows.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

10,000 miles from home and so I'm pretty detached from things occurring in Singapore. Like it dawned upon me when I was blog-surfing that it's no longer Singapore Idol which is the source of the idle starstruck chatter of kids back home- it's now Campus Superstar. And I'm pretty certain that it's been so for the longest time now, just that I've only just realized. It's not something particularly crucial which I need to know, so that's fine. I'm just unable to comprehend society's fascination with reality TV. Especially in Singapore, where there's a serious dearth of true talent compared to places like the US.

"Reality shows are hybridized programs which appeal to postmodern sensitivities, causing viewers’ eyes to glaze over at the hypnotically tempting prospect of instant gratification."
-- an excerpt from my communications studies research paper on the impact of reality TV on society today.

Don't people have better things to do? Well, perhaps not.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Midwest Festival 2006 was hosted by UMich yesterday! It's a yearly event where the SSAs from various colleges in midwest America congregate at the host university for a day of sports, games and basically just catching up with people you haven't seen in a while. And of course there's the everpresent opportunity to get to know other Singaporeans from these schools as well. The turnout was pretty decent, with Singaporeans from UIUC, Carnegie Mellon, Wisconsin-Madison, Indiana-Bloomington, Michigan State (ha!), Purdue, Northwestern, and Minnesota visiting Ann Arbor. We congregated at Trotter House for an evening of entertainment following a day of games at Pioneer High School and Fuller Field. There was karaoke, a spectacular dance performance by some UMich people (including dearest Wilson Liu, lol), and I was glad I managed to meet Tracy and Joanne after such an incredibly long time! It was great catching up with them. Although I definitely wish we had had more time to spend, because the length of the travel time somewhat shortened their stays here. It was nice, nonetheless.

Argh I'm kind of sick of dorm food. I think I'll have Subway tonight instead.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Wilson and I have jointly embarked on a journey of culinary discoveries, beginning with our astonishingly successful muah-chee-making experience for the UMSSA three weeks back. Buoyed by our success, we decided to start experimenting with more recipes in his kitchen- and so far, we've fared quite well! Take today's dinner for example: pan-fried wild salmon fillets seasoned with cajun spices, the remainder of the nonya chap chye which we cooked on Saturday, peanut pancake (ming jiang kueh), and of course the obligatory muah chee for dessert! Can't get enough of that. Hahaha! Check out the pictures below. And of course, much thanks to Daphne of Kitchencrazydaffy for all her inspiration!


Pan-fried Salmon

Pan-fried Salmon on Japanese Rice

Peanut Pancake

Muah Chee


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

This photo entry is dedicated to the two people in the world who love to suan me the most. Hahahaha.
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Sunday, March 26, 2006

It's strange how some people, despite your fleeting interaction with them, leave an overwhelming imprint on your life and make you contemplate your own goals and motivations, just by the things they say and impressions which they convey.

I didn't even see him that often- just three times at the interview panel, a couple occasions during Delta visits, I might've chanced across him perhaps once or so during my month-long internship in June, and finally, one last time, just days before I was to leave to commence studies in Michigan.

I vividly remember the talk he gave that evening- after trooping into the auditorium, the cool air from the air-conditioning a welcome respite from the humidity we'd encountered while marching up the three flights of steps en route from wingline. At that point in time I was undecided and unsure, as I'd be for a long time after- but his address, delivered on the basis of heart and soul, rather than rank or seniority- struck a resonating chord within me. The simple, trusting faith in God, the goodness, the humility, the values of a leader, were overwhelmingly evident as he shared his experiences with the audience. The tab he bore on his sleeve- a representation of loyalty, sacrifice, brotherhood, and ethos- things I wanted to experience for myself, if only for the edification of others. I left that night knowing that I'd entrusted my future to the right place, because the things he spoke of coincided with my desires for the good of myself and what I hoped to achieve for others.

The evening at Stagmont- my mind torn between a thousand possibilities, a myriad of divergent paths that promised varying options at what the next couple of years might hold. I was clear about what I wanted to do, but unsure about how I'd want to go about achieving that outcome. In the midst of my turbulent mental anguish, his eye met mine, and as though having discerned that I was in a state of turmoil, he came over. He didn't give me a solution, because that'd be something only I could decide for myself- but that brief encounter did help me. It reinforced my beliefs, and in the process I gained even more respect for this man, for whom relationships and an honest interest in the wellbeing of others transcended rank, without sacrificing professionalism and responsibility.

I couldn't have foreseen that my final encounter with him would be the last time I'd ever meet him. BL and I were in the conference room, nervously awaiting his entrance, and apprehensive at the very thought of the meeting. When he arrived, however, after the business-like handshakes, he immediately put the two of us at ease- never once doubting our motivations, but gently probing to ascertain that we'd both made the choices that we would stand to benefit from, in the long run. The meeting didn't last long- only about twenty minutes, and at the end of it all he stood up to leave, looked deep into our eyes, perhaps in an implicit conveyor of trust, which underlied his expectations for us, and grasped our hands in a firm handshake, wishing us both the very best in our studies abroad. It was a fleeting moment, indicative of the discipline that was necessary in such an organization; but by no means compromising goodwill and consideration for individual welfare.

So when I received the news early this morning that he had unexpectedly passed away, at the prime of his career and leaving behind two young daughters, I grieved- less for the loss of a brilliant mind or a capable individual, for those are common traits- but, rather, for a man whose deeds and actions depicted his unwavering purpose and faith, and who taught me, by virtue of example, what it really meant to be an officer in the SAF.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Quintessential Stalker Song- coincidentally, also one of my favorite songs from D. Hayes.

Creeping up on you is the wrong thing to do
I've found your address
Got your phone number too
Visit all the stores where you buy all your clothes
Been to secret places you think nobody knows

If I have to live without you, nobody could
I need to be around you, watching you
No one else can love you like I do
Feel it when I'm creeping up on you
I know that it wouldn't be right if I stayed all night
Just to peek in on you
Creeping up on you
Creeping up on you

I've been hanging round all the places you haunt
Spying on your friends to find out what you want
Drinking from a glass that you left on the bar
Follow you around, driving home in your car
Do I have to breathe without you, 'cause nobody could
I need to be around you, watching you

No one else can love you like I do
Feel it when I'm creeping up on you
I know that it wouldn't be right if I stayed all night
Just to peek in on you
Creeping up on you

I know this must be wrong, it can't go on
This kind of thing is taking all my sanity and making me a mockery
This must be wrong, it can't go on
So won't somebody free me from this misery?
Bring my baby closer to me

No one else can love you like I do
You feel it when I'm creeping up on you
I know that it wouldn't be right if I stayed all night
Just to peek in on you
No one else can love you like I do
I know you feel it when I'm creeping up on you
I know that it wouldn't be right if I stayed all night
Just to be
Creeping up on you

'Cause no one else can love you, no, no, like I do
I'm only peeking in on you
Watching everything you do
No one else can love you, no, like I do
No one else should love you, no, like I do
Baby, creeping up on you
Watching everything you do
No one else can love you, no
No one else should touch you, no
No one else can love you, love you, be with you

Creeping Up On You Darren Hayes

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Right now we're heading into the final throes of the Winter semester and in a couple weeks it'll be time for me to reflect on what's been effectively my first academic year at UMich. Weirdly enough, I still feel like I haven't been here for long- perhaps because the school year in its entirety is only eight months long, not counting Spring/ Summer term which is optional and primarily for those who choose to take classes over summer break. I foresee a pretty crazy four weeks ahead till the end of classes and the beginning of finals. I've got quite a lot on my plate- here's the (unenviable) list of major assignments which are due sometime within that four-week frame.

- POLSCI 160 essay on the International Political Economy
- GTBOOKS essay on Dante/ St. Augustine/ The Bible/ Boccaccio, or a final project left entirely up to individual whims and fancies- say, a photo essay dealing with common themes in the books we've read, or a play modelled on Sophocles' style, for instance
- COMM 101 final paper on Reality TV (those of you who were in the '04 and '05 batches of RJC may remember that as my pet topic)
- COMM 111 group website on media bias
- GERMAN 102 role play (not good, my spoken German is abysmal)

And on another note, today marked the first time I've borrowed books from the Shapiro Undergraduate Library (affectionately known as UGLi by the student population here), and primarily because I decided it would be in my best interest to actually read the books I'd listed in my reference page for the proposal I turned in for the upcoming COMM 101 paper. Whoopee. Aiyah so busy. Looking forward to Singapore in about a month's time!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Hahahaha this is crazy. Edwin, Aileen, Jiayong, Efrem and I have signed up for the 2006 Chicago Marathon on October 22nd! 26.2 miles, here I come! Time for a marathon-specific training plan!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

"I think you're amazing."

It's funny how these four words have turned up in my life so often.

When Weiqi and I first discovered "Amazing" by George Michael, a song we both loved.
I remember signing off with this sentence at the end of a letter, stuffing it in your locker back in the good old days, strangely, not too long ago. And breathlessly anticipating the time you'd go there after school ended, dial the combination, and open it to reveal those sheets of paper with everything I wanted to say to you.
Scribbled on top of foolscap just last year, back in June, when I sat down and wrote you that first heartfelt note. You liked those lyrics, and you replied, saying so- and that you thought it meant the same to you as it did to me. We did believe that, and it was lovely while it lasted. But, as most good things do, it came to an end. We went our separate ways, I haven't talked to you since, but I do hope you're happy with whatever you're doing right now.
And just the other day, after morning practice, she stopped me as I had thrown on my fleece and sweatpants and was getting ready to leave the room back to South Quad to grab my books for class. I was about to leave alone; we had had two practice times that day, and a choice of which to attend. I had come for the earlier one, and stayed to repeat half the workout together with the girls who had come later, of my own accord. It wasn't particularly unusual, since I'd done that several times before. They'd say I was crazy, but I didn't care.

Our eyes met for a moment; a brief but discernible flash in her eye told me that she had seen and knew everything, right from the very first day I had turned up at tryouts. It happened so quickly that I was taken aback as she pushed a folded piece of paper into my hand and sent me on my way. I didn't open it till I was out of Cliff Keen Arena. When I was safely on the other side of the street, I unfolded the paper, to read:


I think you're AMAZING.

- V

My eyes blurred and watered, and I stared down at the ground as I quickened my pace back to South Quad, clasping the piece of paper in my hand, as everything came flooding back into my head. The gnawing disappointments of not being boated, not because of lack of will or power, but size, something I had no control over. The solitary hours spent in the erg room, tired but determined to finish the additional self-imposed workout. Unblemished attendance records, despite illness and injury. The feeling of being flung out of my foot stretchers those early days in the fall and almost being dumped unceremoniously overboard. Sitting in the bow in the bitter cold, teeth chattering, not being able to feel my fingers and getting more desperate by the moment. Pulling hard, every stroke, all the time, never letting up, right through the line.

It's true, what I'd learnt back in the Army:
"Rank is what you wear, but respect is what you earn".

Earlier this year, she had come up to the erg I was on, between sets as I was catching my breath in the short pause between sprint intervals. We were about midway through the workout, which was relatively short but extremely intense; an anaerobic Level 1 workout. It was the day after I'd sent her a long, heartfelt email, which tore me up inside as I typed each word. I still remember what she said then as I looked up to catch her eye, sweat dripping down my face and unable to muster enough breath to speak properly-

"You're a fighter, and I like that. Go out there and stake your claim".

I know I posted this quote before, but it basically summed up everything I felt right then, and underlined my motivation:
"The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it."
- Juhn Ruskin

I knew it would be absolutely impossible for me to be the fastest, or even come anywhere near to reaching those sub-1:40 split times, but did that really matter? Or did drive and character matter more, and pushing yourself till your breaking point? I chose the latter, and never looked back. Say what you want, do what you like- including doing weights for "purely aesthetic purposes"- but for me I choose to bust my ass to challenge my limits, and that's something you can't lay claim to.

I'll keep that slip of paper forever, as a treasured reminder.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I know it's been a week since I returned from Flagstaff, Arizona, and I've only gotten round to posting a photo of my incredible venture into the Grand Canyon now. Apologies for the delay- as usual, it's always busy here in Ann Arbor, especially since we've begun practice on the lake again, which is pretty time-consuming because of the fact that we've to travel to and fro and deal with a crapload of logistics before we can get out on the water. I'm intending to do a pretty detailed writeup of my trip, with accompanying pictures, but I know I won't be able to do it all at once. I'll probably give a day-by-day account, and hopefully I'll be able to start on that soon. More pictures are on their way- I dreadfully need to make use of my Flickr account so it won't be a waste of money. Just a quick lowdown on the trip to the Canyon: It ranks right up there with the best experiences of my life. Spending a week in the depths of nature in all its unabashed glory, hiking long distances every day over impossibly rocky terrain and steep gradients, with a fantastic group of people whom I got to know better than I'd ever imagined possible. What more could I ask for? Spring Break '06 was, in every sense of the word, awesome.


Gazing into the unknown.


Friday, February 24, 2006

Aaahhhh this has to be a quick post because I'm going off to bed once my laundry is done, since I've to get up at 4.00am tomorrow morning to catch my flight to Phoenix, Arizona. Spring Break has begun and I'm off to the Grand Canyon for the whole week, for a backpacking trip! It'll be an awesome time- taking time off from school, crew practice, so that I can revel in the nature that is God's creation. No ergs for a week! Probably will go running in the depths of the canyon, though, if we manage to camp anywhere for an extended period of time. I'm pumped. It's gonna be sweet. Okay catch you guys when I get back!

And here's a teaser photo:

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I know I haven't posted in a long time, but as I mentioned in my last entry, these few weeks have been tremendously busy ones and so I've hardly had time to breathe, much less blog about how things have been going. My Great Books midterm is tomorrow, and I've still got to finish revising. This midterm is a pretty hefty one, here's the list of the texts we'll be tested on:

Plato: The Symposium, Phaedo, The Republic
Virgil: The Aeneid
The Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Job

Philosophy really isn't my thing. Plato just about kills me.

Anyway just some quotes that Efrem sent me, which I find extremely inspirational. And I hope you will, too.

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize."
-- 1 Corinthians 9:24.

"Everybody wants to know what I'm on.
What am I on?
I'm on my bike busting my ass six hours a day.
What are you on?"
-- Lance Armstrong

"The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it."
-- Juhn Ruskin

"Those who want to succeed will find a way; those who don't will find an excuse."
-- Leo Aguila


Go watch Torino 2006 Winter Olympics short track speed skating on!

Friday, February 17, 2006

I'm such a good procrastinator sometimes, I can't stand it. Haha. Right now I'm in the basement of the spanking new academic center, in the computer lab, and I'm pretty sure I had every intention to start on revision for my political science midterm next Monday. But instead, all I've accomplished in about thirty-five minutes of sitting in front of the computer is surf about 4 food blogs, a couple of friends' blogs, check my email, eat half a granola bar, and trying to think of more ways I can possibly put off the loathsome revision till sometime else. I've got rowing practice in about an hour and a half's time, not looking forward to that really, but the good thing about that is that it gives me the license to eat many many many many many many many many many many many many bowls of mashed sweet potatoes tonight at dinner. I'm always excited when there's sweet potatoes at dinner. There aren't many types of food at the dorms that stir up similar anticipation in me. Well, okay, perhaps there are a couple. Oatmeal, of course. Cream of wheat is pretty darn good too. BBQ Baked Beans! (Okay I know, they're not exactly gourmet cuisine in any way, but STILL). Salmon. Orzo's great. And Tunisian Greens with Peanuts! Hahaha now you know all about my odd eating habits. Whatever. Haha! Sigh I suppose I should be getting to work now. Ugh. The aforementioned sweet potatoes will be my motivation for the next couple of hours. Ooohh this is exciting. :)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

This has been one hell of a physically, mentally, and emotionally draining week. It's just about impossible to list down everything that's happened in the course of the past seven days, but it's definitely not all that worth mulling about. First, I discovered (not to much surprise) that pulling a 6k trial when you're hit by a virus that's been bugging you for the past two weeks isn't the wisest thing to do. I've never ever felt so much like just getting off the erg in the middle of rowing before. Thankfully, I didn't, because I don't think I'd ever forgive myself, had I done that. But that was definitely a most painful experience. And after the 6k trial came a series of letdowns which weren't the best tonic for my battered morale, and I had to reacquaint myself with the fact that some things just won't happen because they're simply out of my control. But it's heartbreaking, nonetheless, because I've got the results to prove my abilities, just that I'm denied by some other factors which I'm powerless to alter, for the life of me. But as usual, life goes on- and as the adage goes, "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger". Very nearly killed myself (with that 6k), and I hope that going through all this crap and disappointments will only help to mold me further. Perhaps that's what really matters, in the very end.

The weekend was pretty good, though, because I managed to complete my readings and even finish some extra ones (by extra I mean readings beyond the first lesson of each week), finish my German journal without procrastinating till the hour before Monday's class like I typically do, and get started on my Great Books essay about Virgil's Aeneid (thinking of the beginning is usually the hardest part of any essay for me). Had a great dinner at that lovely Indian Vegetarian hole-in-the-wall last night, and joined three other Singaporeans (Efrem, Edwin and Aileen) for a 10-mile training run held by the Tortoise and Hare Running Store. It was an extremely well-organized training run (in testament to the fact that Ann Arbor is quite a sports' lover's town), with mile markers along the looping, scenic route, and drinks and gels at the 5-mile station. And there was a storewide sale and free pizza at the store at the end of the run (the sale I like, but I can barely comprehend why they'd distribute free pizza- it isn't exactly the healthiest thing to consume, especially when you're dealing with a whole bunch of supposed fitness aficionados). It was a good run and a great way for me to get my recovery cardio in- ran at around 60% of intensity since Sunday is technically the only off day I have from practice, and so I didn't want to push too hard since there's a Level 1 erg workout on the schedule tomorrow. I'm quite a fan of the running community and culture here in the USA- it's really heartening how runners never fail to wave or say hi when they pass you, going in the opposite direction- it's such a simple gesture but it never fails to brighten up my mood especially in the middle of a long run by myself, which can get pretty dreary sometimes. And it's interesting to see how there are two very distinct groups of people here- the fat and sedentary, and the extremely fit people. The sporting culture in the USA is great, if you know where to look. If not, all you'll probably see are the obese masses gorging themselves on Triple Whoppers and White Castle sliders.

Well there's still much more to be done, with two midterms coming up next week- but at least there's Spring Break to be looked forward to! For the uninformed, I'm going to Arizona for a 7-day sojourn in the Grand Canyon- a field camp of sorts, it's a backpacking trip where we'll be carrying everything we've brought along on our backs and spending 5 nights outfield. I'm looking forward to it, even though I'm more inclined towards sports than adventure- it's time I reacquainted myself with some semblance of military, outdoorsy skills, and it'll more than replace my cardio/strength workouts for the week. Because, as stated on the trip website- climbing out of the Grand Canyon is comparable to climbing a 300-storey skyscraper. Except that you don't have the added privilege of proper steps to aid you in your ascent, rather, you've got to navigate your way through a mass of crumbly rocks and stones, steep precipices, the like. I'm pumped!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Thanks to Daffy, I've created my own South Park character! It's marvelously addictive. Don't laugh at me. C'mon, I know you're secretly dying to make your own as well. Who wouldn't want to be immortalized as Kenny (in more ways than one)? So here you go!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

“Anything is possible. You can be told that you have a 90-percent chance or a 50-percent chance or a 1-percent chance, but you have to believe, and you have to fight.”

- Lance Armstrong


So I suppose it'll be biking next semester.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Thank you so much. You'll never know what that meant to me. That's why I'd never trade our friendship for anything else in the world.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

- Psalm 23

Monday, February 06, 2006

I put this song on repeat, cranked up the intensity on the spinning bike, and lost myself in the frenzy of cardio for an hour. It's awesome. Hahahahahahaha! Boybands exist for a reason. Don't know what I'd do without them.

I will never stop until you're mine
I can wait forever till the end of time
'Cause my heart is in your hands
Don't you understand
I'll never stop

Do you believe me
When my heart is in your hands


On another note, an article I found in the Ann Arbor Paper. Pretty interesting. Only because I was searching for Leo Zulueta, on the account that he's perhaps one of the best tribal tattoo artists ever. And it's so coincidental that he's set up shop right down the street in Ann Arbor, MI. What luck. I've seen actual specimens of his work, and it's mighty impressive.

Leo Zulueta has been called the “father of tribal tattooing.” The Hawaii native got his start over 20 years ago in California and has since become a legend in the tattoo world, known for his distinctive heavy black designs inspired by the tattoos of the Marquesas Islands in Polynesia. A couple of years ago, he disappeared. Some people even said he was dead. The truth is that after a couple of years spent at various international tattoo conventions, Zulueta is happily settled with partner Dianne Mansfield in Michigan. They opened Spiral Tattoo in a sunny space on Packard in February.

I've got a teammate who's planning to get inked on what I perceive to be the part of the body that'll hurt the most. Okay, maybe not the most, but it's going to hurt really bad. She's intending on getting a Gaelic word (I can't remember what word, she told me and I promptly forgot) tattooed on the surface of her foot, just beneath the toes- the place where the sandal strap meets the skin. Owwww.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Remember my weights logbook? I'm pretty sure the rest of the RJcanoeing girls do. Originally, I began using it during the first three months in NJcanoeing, conscientiously recording the details of every practice we had, but I left off once I transferred to RJC after the release of the 'A'Level results. I resurrected it when Huilin, the captain of the J2 team when we were in JC1, mentioned that ideally we ought to keep a logbook of the weights we were using to facilitate keeping track of our progress and so we wouldn't have to select random weights everytime we did a workout. So this logbook has been with me, and I've used it since.

It's filled with scribblings of my workouts and weights used, interspersed with random flashes of artistic brilliance courtesy of several of my teammates, who either used it as a platform to deride my affinity and overenthusiasm for fitness and exercise, or as a tool to profess their eligibility (and desperation) lest I happened to forget and leave my book in a random gym and someone (a desirable male, they hoped) would happen to chance across it. But unfortunately that didn't happen, and the book came with me over to Michigan, where I've been making great use of it- not so much for recording lifting workouts because I use the computers for that purpose, but more for writing down erg times for the rowing workouts that I've been doing.

You might have noticed the proliferation of motivational quotes on my blog of late, including my most recent entry which was comprised entirely of them. I've taken to scribbling some of my personal favorites at various intervals in my book, so that when I'm sitting on the erg, preparing for a workout, I can just flip through the pages and somehow garner inspiration from those words. It's pretty miraculous how a couple of words somehow gel together to form a phrase which you can glean strength from. The resounding nature and value of those sentences are just unmistakable, and personally I find that they help to reacquaint me with the nature of the task (or challenge) at hand, and enable me to focus.

I guess no one will ever be able to understand the apprehension that wells up within me at times especially when it comes to rowing, the challenges I find myself baulking at, the things I've to go through in the process of practice. And it's an everyday affair, it's not just a one-off occasion where you row till you pass out and go home and never come back again. Rather, I come back everyday for more, and more, and die everyday just to return and do it all over again. See, I know everyone will say it's plain stupid to do this to myself. But there are things I see in it that perhaps no one else will share. Sometimes I take a step back and I do think I'm insane. And occasionally when I stop to think about it, I can't for the life of me figure out why I do such things to myself. I never was like that before. It eludes me. But then the clouds clear from my thoughts and I realize that perhaps I can't define it, but to put it in the basest of terms, it's a challenge, a race to outdo myself. Pushing the limits beyond what I fathomed achievable for myself.

We'll see how it goes.