Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Food for Thought

“Here at Finargo we serve only the best of meats and wines. Our steaks for instance, are cut only from the underbelly of a grain-fed cow imported from Greenland, where the slightly chilled climate there is supposed to enhance the refreshing taste of the meat”

“Greenland you say? But isn’t Greenland filled with…ice? How do the cows survive?”

“Oh, that’s simple. Our suppliers have heat houses for the cows to sleep in if they ever get cold. Every morning they are pushed out into the ice, where special bags of grain feed and littered across the fields. This encourages them to look for food – toughens the muscle and flavors the beef. Wondrous combination, don’t you think?”

“Indeed, I can see where the exquisite flavor comes from…if you don’t mind, what happens to the rest of the cow?”


“The rest of the cow. The other parts of it. The thighs, for instance. Or the flesh on its back perhaps. All the well…other pieces of meat.”

“Ah. I see. You won’t happen to be a member of the Food Conservationists, Mr. Wight?”

“No, just curious”

“Well, in the case which you may happen to meet one, they can be reassured that here we are most err…Conserving” he continues, “to answer your question, Mr. Wight, the excess meat is recycled and put to excellent use.”

“Recycled? Are you telling me that Finargo, the finest dining restaurant in the pacific ocean uses recycled-”

“No no, nothing of that sort sir, merely reusing of parts in other areas, and most definitely not food. The human palate is a most precious thing, we cannot soil it with meat like that! No, you see the hundreds of candles about the floor? Each wick is a carefully crafted slice of meat, soaked in oils and wax. When burned, they give of this most wonderful aroma…”

“Ah…I see. That explains the strong smell of roast that so many customers adore.”

“Yes! Though of course, most meats don’t burn too well, so they must first be treated with spices and herbs obtained from one of the last jungles in the Asian continent.”


“Without a doubt, Mr. Wight. But all this is worth it in the end, don’t you agree? The restaurant spends much on its customers, for the customers. People do not eat here to be filled after all, they eat for the experience. Now I’m sure you would like to sample our most exotic dish yet - elephant’s trunk boiled with 52 rare herbs for three weeks until tender and soft…”


Just a musing from my mind. Perhaps a story undeveloped in time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Centre of Gravitas

So here I am at the end of physics olympiad, looking at it with a strange mixture of relief, thankfulness and somehow, regret.

All the sessions spent together in the labs...I would say were some of the most fun lessons I ever had. All my life, from primary school to secondary, I always wanted a teacher and a teaching environment like that. Granted, I could barely keep up, and was mostly just listening to others and following. But the dynamics of the classroom, the...atmosphere. It was, how should I put it, alive. The knowledge was alive. The learning was alive. I felt alive.

Regret, because in all the time spent with them I did not give it my all. Granted, I tried. But it was not my all. Me thinks a person can never give his all. But a person can try. I didn't try hard enough, thats for sure. My base and understanding of physics are good at best, average at worst. Sometimes, hopelessly narrow. I admit no shame in saying that of all the people in the "Group A" category of the oly I'm probably the weakest. Perhaps in the Group B category as well. Well maybe, just a bit of shame...a man can have some pride after all...

I feel so tired, and stare before me a mountain to climb. Several mountains to slimb. Small mountains perhaps, but mountains nontheless. Sometimes its easier to scale a single cliff than to tackle a few short hills in a row. Is this one of those times? I hope not. Because I cannot afford to burn out now.

EE, CAS, TOK, IA, BB, CC...the hardest things all use abbrevations, as if people were afraid to say the name itself. And I look at my results, a 37, with a qualification for Physics Dean's list. Acceptable, I would say. But I can do more.

I must do more.

And all I can do to push myself on, is to pray. For the battle now for me is more spiritual, more in terms of character, than in academics. For of all the mountains to climb I would say it is the mountain within my own heart that I fear the most. For it is the one that grows as I grow, that changes as I change, and forever remains, in appearance at least, unbeatable. At least by my own strength. So all I can do now is pray. Pray for strength and guidance, for fortitude, for spirit.

For temperance. I remember that word to this day. As I will remember it always.


One part of my playing style I notice is that I love "fifth wheel" characters. Jack of all trades types. Knowledge monkeys, if you will. The type who can, feasibily "fill in" any role to suit the need, and virtually "do anything", and fill out the gaps.

Part of it would stem from the human desire to be good at everything. Its a sort of in-built paranoid security measure - an answer for every situation. It eliminates the fear that something will screw up your life that you cannot deal with.

Part of it would stem from the fickleness of my own character. I find everything interesting, but nothing particularly interesting. Its like I have some sort of minor ADD. Oh look, a sparrow! Isn't it cute? Fluffy little yellow sparrow...

Ahem. The third reason, perhaps the only "logical" one to me, is actual the desire to serve. A born follower, if you will. I'm the sort of person who has an ability to notice patterns. Most people can, anyway. Its just that the patterns I look at all seem to lack something. And I'm the sort who believes that problems are best solved if you do it yourself.

Add them all up and what do you get?

Someone who sees all sorts of problems with a given situation and tries to, on his own, solve all of the problems, at least partially. And usually ends up failing at all of them in the end. Sad case...haiz.

Is it me, or does the world have too many leaders and specialists? Are we pushing our generation so much in one direction that they cannot navigate any others? When all men are drivers, who will stay behind to grease the wheels?

The people I admire...they are the ones with the charm and wit. They can slide into any situation and draw from it success. They can make sad people smile, bring logic to chaos, hope to despair, courage to fear. Despite not being good at maths, science, sports, arts...they are good at the one thing that, in the end, truely counts.

As Terry Pratchett wrote in his book, its all about the "soul...and the centre". It doesn't matter if you can do all sorts of magic, fancy tricks, elaborate words or phrases, if you do not base them around the central axis of your beliefs. Of all our beliefs. In the end, what are all our actions for?

What is the soul and the centre of society?

Is it the men with the fancy certificates and passionate speeches?

Or the one who rides on next to you, night and day?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Records of Life

Somewhat written in response to a post by my friend;

Each and every person a story.

Indeed, the writers were the first to notice.

Stories are like living things, I think Terry Pratchett was the first to make the allusion. And it is through us humans, that stories breed and come. Humans are stories, and stories, at least the very best of them, are always then and before, beautifully, incredibly, unchangelebly human.

And somewhere, out there, I heard a story. A fictional story perhaps. But nontheless one that rings in my heart.

It was set within the world of fantasy. Of dragons, knights, heroes and demons. Of great exploits and champions that all the bards would sing of for years and centuries to come.

All bards but one.

To quote from the writer, to quote from this bard - "As always I must travel, as always, I must remember. When the fallen warrior breathes his last breath, where the farmer protects his beaten horse, where the child cries out for a mother's arms, I will be there and not, and as always, it is my duty to remember.

For I am the Bard of Forgotten Tales, and Lost Stories never told. It is my duty to remember the quests never seen, the fights never heard, and the treasures never sought. In a land of champions, of men whose names are sung forever in song, the thousands, no millions, of names I shall remember.

For I am the Keeper of Forgotten Tales, and forever it remains my duty to remember."

Romanticised somewhat, I would say. But in a way, it parallels what we have.

Who said these books are not being read? How many actual books are really read?

The average person reads less than 5% of all the books published. Some much less.

Yet everytime to talk to these people, to your friends, your family, your teacher, student, college, boss. Your soulmate, neighbour, pastor, priest. Your pen pal, classmate and many more beside. Each time you talk to them, you remember.

You remember that chapter of their life.

And if one were to take all the people that man has met, all his acquaintences and friends, his family and the people he bumped into the street, take all of them and extract their memories with but him in it, they will find a picture, overlaping sometimes, stretching sometimes, but always a full picture, a description - a story; of his life and the people around him as well.

And in that way, I would suppose, all of us are Bards of Remembering, Keepers of the Forgotten Lore.

For us, ourselves, and the people as well.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

As a Lie

As a lie, there are many things I'm afraid of.

Being found out, for instance. When someone realises you're just a lie, not exactly there, the mask you display - a happy shell of false talent in a bid to draw talent. As the saying goes, glass sparkles more than diamond because it has much more to prove.

Lies have everything to prove and nothing to show.

Another fear of being a lie is meeting the truth. You know what I mean. Them people who are really good. Not really good, really good. They know what they do, and they do what they do, and that be the truth, for the truth need not shine; and a well used sword is often dull and scratched - yet these markings are but proof of its ability.

A lie has no scratches or markings for a single one who certainly shatter its glass facade.

Then there is the opposite of the lie, the hidden truth. A lie's greatest fear and one all lies seek to quash. Hidden talent, humble worksmiths, great but reclusive geniuses, all of them the lies seek to destroy - for they are the antithesis of their very philosophy and existance. To a lie, hidden truths are like the mold that grows underneath the wallpaper - ignored unless the risk of them being seen by visitors is too great. And then the lies move in swift and deadly, to remove the talent lest it threatens the lie's hard earned position of pseudo-talent.

But once in a while, a piece of truth leaks out. As it goes, the truth will out, and mold tends to grow everywhere, no matter how much plant-killer you use. And when that happens, all the glass lie can do is hide its mask in shame, as the hidden talents and true truths grow beyond its ability to overshadow, and its light no longer attributed to any inner fire of its own.

The moon was thought a mystical object till scientists realised it merely reflected the light from the sun.

As a lie, I am capable of weaving words. Painting pictures that aren't there. Hiding in shadows so dark they can't be seen at all.

Yet even amongst lies, there is talent. The talent of deception, of charisma, of making glass look like diamonds, and confidence in all things false.

So what about a lie of a lie? What talents does he have?

Since when did a doppelganger need to impersonate itself?

Monday, October 6, 2008

On the Issue of Trust and other Immaterial Things

A good question that we should never have to ask ourselves is: Who do I trust? 'Cause usually by the time you're asking that, paranoia, the great black bird, already has its icy-clawed grip upon your chest, and is peeking over your shoulders each time you turn around.

Yet, there always comes a time when a man must ask: who do I trust?

Is it the government? Them whom live in their great big towers, far from my home, who pass the laws, hire the sweepers, and tend to the lives of bigger men far taller than I'll ever be? They has my respect, that I give, but trust?

Many a common man trusts more his dog than the official at his door.

Is it your workplace? Colleges and bosses, from the sweepers whom clean your cubicles to the inspectors with their clipboards and thick, reflective spectacles, staring through the mush of paperwork and into your very soul. Left and right you find both angels and demons, willing to help yee up on your ascent to Heaven or stab and weigh you down to Hell, their daggers cutting through your back and sometimes, the heart.

How many times have I heard my dad sigh a great sigh of relief upon reaching home?

Home then. Family. That, I suppose, we can trust. Your littlest sister, who rats you out when you buy that computer game your parents forbib all access to. The same little sister, whom finds you half-dead from studying and glomps you with her soft toys in a bid to cheer you up. Your parents, whom shout and scold and forbid all manner of things, from socks to shoes to computers to television at 1am. And the same parents, whom on the rainy day you find standing outside thier car with an umbrella half soaked 'cause of the wind waiting for you to come home.

All exaggerations perhaps. But nontheless, a good spectrum covered.

Your friends of course. Who can't trust their friends? Truely, anyone can trust their friends, to be there when you need them, to support and tease you about all your aims in life; to help you with your homework, to ask your help with their homework, to hit you on the head (not too hard of course) whenever you start falling asleep in the middle of a lecture - of course we can trust our friends.

Problem is, you can trust your enemies too. And you never know which is which.

So whom do I trust? Its an interesting scene. People would rather let pass their neighbour of fifteen years than an official of the Ministry.

Does that make the whole point of a government pointless?

Or does it just mean people are often very shortsighted?

I don't exactly know who I trust. But I definately know one person I don't.