Biking, driving, trucking and walking

Biking, driving, trucking and walking
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My second MTB

Dear boys,

There is a lot of controversies these days about the use of road space. Some say share, some say they pay road tax, and well others, simply pirate the roads. E-scooters are a boon or bane?

The biggest machine your father has operated was a truck, 10 foot-truck to be exact, which I rented when we needed to move house, a long time ago. I was also a motorcyclist, I love mountain biking, I’m very much a wheel guy, not so much a ‘ ball’ guy, both being round in their own way.

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My first motorcycle

I’ve stopped riding my motorcycle many years back, as it was no longer the safest thing to do. I remembered back in the days, after finishing my night class, I would ride the CTE back home, around 10-ish and the traffic being light, I can just cruise, it was a good feeling. These days there are so many factors that can get a motorcyclist maimed and killed. There is no luxury of a cruise, you have to be on the defensive all the time. Recent news and stats says motorist finds the road no longer safe.

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Bandung Traffic

My earlier trip to Bandung Indonesia opened my eye to how congested their roads are and how lucky we have it here. We have well organised roads, 2-3 and even 4-5 lanes roads, for Bandung, as an old town, at best, traffic around the city make do with a 2 lane road, 2 for each directions.

The amazing thing is that, they can make do with that limited shared space, as I wrote in my last blog. It was an amazing concoction of cars, trucks, buses, bicycles, motorcycles, and even an occasional bullock cart.

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Driving a rented car in Gold Coast

Back to Singapore

I don’t drive so often, we don’t own a car. But I bike a lot, and I have a pecking order in terms of giving way. The largest will always give way to the smallest. And the smallest denominator being a pedestrian, the largest, well it can go as large as an aircraft carrier. You get the idea. So when I am on a bicycle, I have to give way to a person walking, and if I am driving, I have to give way to a cyclist, and the pedestrian and if I am operating a big ass truck, I have to give way to the smaller folks.

It’s a logic that the larger the machine you operate, the more responsibilities you have towards others, and no one operate in silo or vacuum, we will always have a impact on other people, in good or bad way. So when we have a larger machine, we need to exercise greater care and responsibilities.

Passenger jet vs fighter jet

Of course that is just being generalising, a passenger jet needs to give way to a fighter jet, in the case of my logic, but a fighter jet can shoot down a passenger jet. Sometimes, my rule of thumb doesn’t work but it does gives a gist of the kind of responsibility one has relative to the machines they operate.

The point is…

We cannot clamor for space. Space is always shared. Cyclist have to understand that road kills. And even in large numbers, there is no safety. One wayward car can careen into a group of cyclist, kill and maim a good part of the group. A speeding E-scooter can crash into a family, injuring the elderly, bruising the kid. Who is going to bay for blood, when the unfortunate event has already occurred?

Give way and prepare to stop

More specifically, give way if you can, get out of the way of those who can’t give way. Sometimes, as much as a larger vehicle wants to stop and give way, there are inertia and it can take a while for the large lorry to come to a complete stop, by then it would have mowed down whoever and whatever in its path. So be alert and get out of the way of large vehicles if possible. Those who are driving a large truck, give way where possible.

One thing my driving instructor taught me, which stayed till now, when in doubt, stop.

It is a good mantra, especially when I’m cycling. I’ve seen cyclists and motorbikers trying not to stop, as they will lose their momentum and balance, so they want to keep a minimal level of motion. I get that, I bike too, but when in doubt, stop, and push.

Its not a cool factor, if there is an old man walling in front and just for me to preserve my motion, bang into the poor guy, stop, get of if necessary and push. It’s just biking, and the road space is shared, whosoever wants to walk and travel at whatever speed, it’s their wish. Everyone goes through life in their own pace and speed, and try not to be in such a hurry to get from point A to point B, you end up in hell, and killing other people in the process.

Last but not least

We cannot wish away the e-biking trend. I do not like these battery powered wheel-chairs. They are fast, convenient and extremely lazy. If you are on a bicycle, you still get a reasonable bit of exercise, even on a motorcycle, you have to be generally fit to operate one. An e-scooter? It’s the laziest form of transport. It’s so convenient it is bad for health.

Nonetheless, it is here to stay, and since there is so much brickbat about it, I have a couple of rules, simple rules.

  • Anyone operating an e-bike above the weight of 7 kg, needs a license, they need to take a damn course to get some general feel and understanding of sharing the road.
  • Any e-bikes which can travel faster than 10km/h, capped at 15 km/h, needs to have a helmet, front and rear lights, helmets on, light on at all times. (this is a rule of motorcyclist, by the way)

Singapore is going to become car-lite soon and these things going around isn’t going to stop growing in numbers, so we just need to be mindful, the pecking order, and the road space is shared, no one owns them, well, I guess the only one who really own the road is the Grim Reaper, anyone wants to challenge that?

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It’s ’bout damn time

It’s about damn time.

I can’t say I have arrived as it is always work in progress.

Ee siang asked me to take a Class on last evening, and this time, I decided to do something different.

I decided to teach, I mean really teach.

WHAT???

Yeah, I realised that my previous class was kind of a mixed, because of my attitude.

I still want to learn while I teach. “Learn” as to continue attending the class as an Aikidoka, and not as an Aikido teacher. That subtle difference in the mindset made my session messy, as I still want to roll and practice, but at the same time I had to share the  teaching.

I’m not sure where I got my epiphany from, but I told Tri a couple of days back, that this time, I will choose to teach. I’ll own the class, and not just go there for the practice; as it just dawned to me, if I am going there to practice, that makes me the student, so, who is going to be my teacher?

It may sound kind of duh to many, but it is an identity I struggle with as I clock more years in Aikido. I want to continue practicing and be the ‘hands-on’ guy, and at the same time, my expertise is called upon, as there is a need for me to share my experience and skill.

More importantly, I want to continue to develop my skills and keep my edge sharp, I don’t know if teaching is going to help that, as in the process you sharing and teaching Aikido, you will not really be practicing, and perhaps lose your edge.

Last evening’s class was different as I decided to pick only one role, and keep the identity clear. And it helps to have this decision as it gives my energy clarity. I focused on sharing and teaching and not just hurriedly share a technique and then join the class as practicing that technique. I am able to focus on making sure the class really receives my teaching properly. I didn’t train with the class, and spend time walking the mat, giving pointers to the finer details of the technique I’m teaching. I was also able to pace the class properly as I have oversight of the timing, and flow.

As a matter of fact, I was able to be myself and let my personality show, when I decided to just choose a role. Choosing to teach makes me more aware of my long held fear, that I am not good in teaching, but my owning the role of the teacher, I become good enough, while I will never be perfect (there is no such thing anyway).

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

How many times have we heard that before?

Perhaps there was never a proper ‘train the trainer’ kind of indoctrination and I was the student and tasked to teach, before I can teach properly, I need to be a student to teaching. So I need to teach myself how to teach others Aikido. At the end of the day, perhaps I am just making a mountain out of molehill. There are teachers out there everywhere to takes to teaching like fish to water.

It is not as second nature as it seems, because I’m still attached to an identity, and I am still a student to my teacher, and being his student, there is a strong desire for me to do well passing on the skills he taught me. While I want to regard myself as skilled enough, I still don’t think I am skilled enough to teach, and that’s a problem.

At the end of the day, everything has to be done in good faith, just as I practiced diligently as a student, now I must apply the same diligence when it comes to teaching. The learning I guess never stops, you learn as a learner, and you still learn while you are teaching the learner, perhaps the learning experience is different and I really need to discern that part, so that I can further my learning in Aikido.

LGBT- Your dad’s opinion

LGBT- Your dad’s opinion

Dear boys,

This is going to be a sensitive topic.

Well, actually it isn’t.

Maybe your dad is looking at it from a simplistic point of view.

Anyway here it goes.

I have no idea what LGBT was during my early years. All I can remember was, I was a Sales Assistant in AA Fashion, selling women’s clothing. It was just a sales job and I was 17 years old, waiting for my national service enlistment.

So it was retail sales, and this young boy, sells clothes, women clothes. What a place to be in. Anyway it was just a job, and I was doing it to kill time, waiting for my call to the Army.

My Thai ‘Female’ customer

One of our regulars was a bunch of Thais, who likes to buy our clothing in bulk. My supervisor at that time, Jessie and another senior, Sharon, knows them and usually serves them. I don’t know these Thais well, but I know them enough to see that they are transvestites. And having not understanding of them, I don’t want to have anything to do with them.

They somehow knew that, and at times can be quite cheeky about trying to get me to ‘serve’ them, or help them with packing their bulk purchases. Jessie, and Sharon will always try to be firm with them, and in a way, protect me from their ‘harassment.’

That was that, I don’t really have any opinion about it.

Well, the LGBT issues.

I don’t really care about this recent ‘repeal 377A‘ thingy, and I guess they want to sort of legalise gay marriage of sorts. Personally I think it is somewhat politicized, so let’s not go there. It is a deep dark slippery road with no end in sight.

Here’s what a Dad can says to you boys.

LGBT exists, like it or not.

You cannot hate it away, nor pretend it is not there, nor uses the law against it. It simply exists.

So what do we do about such individuals in society?

Well, I am obviously not LGBT in the truest sense, and I don’t think you boys will end up gays. But it is a conversation your mum and I still have and holds true to. Even if you boys turn out to be, we will still love you the same.

Look beyond sexual orientation and see love

I’m not interested in the men screw men part, or women beds women part, which to some can be repulsive. As long as all these sexual acts are done in the privacy of a 4 walls, with mutual consent, it is not my business to interfere, just as much as a man and a woman makes love in public, which is just as lewd and immoral.

Keep sex personal. If a couple wants to show Public Display of Affection, I have no qualms about it. Men can kiss men, women can kiss women, that’s fine. Just as much as a man can kiss his dog and a woman can kiss her pet cat. but again, if you would like to copulate your pet dog or cat, please stay indoors.

It is about relationship, and love

Perhaps it is too simplistic for me, but it is a choice I make. As long as a man loves a man, and cares for each other, for better or for worse, in sickness and good health, till death do us part, I’m fine with that commitment.

How many heterosexual couples have we seen stuck to a dead-end and sometimes abusive relationship. Men beaten by wives, and wive abused by their husbands, isn’t that more worthy of persecution than see two men in love and taking care of each other?

Maybe there is something deeper I am missing out, but now that I am older, I do see some lesbians holding hands, one woman being woman, and the other woman trying to be masculine. I’ve grown old enough to accept that. they have their lives to live, and to choose the lesser road traveled, they are already living with a tremendous identity crisis, and burden. LGBTs has been long ostracized by societies, and they get what they got, just because they are who they are. I don’t think that is quite fair. It is not easy living our ordinary lives, and to have the label LGBT hanging over LGBT doubles that difficulties.

Why we still hangs on to criminalizing LGBT 

Honestly, I don’t have a good answer, I’m not a lawyer, historian or any sort of extremely educated aristocrat, or academic, or politician. All I can think of is to protect the larger population’s equilibrium. Most of us are not LGBTs, and we are the majority, and the majority likes a constant, and flux are seen with apprehension and trepidation. LGBTs are odd, they appear to go against nature. (I’m not going to touch on the religiousness of the matter!), men simply do not have a sexual relationship with men. So people become influential and uses their influence to fight for and against such issues.

We need law to protect the general population, in the event that LGBT spreads like a plague and infect our children!

So just as much as 377A exists, so does LGBT. we cannot hate these 2 existentialistic issues away, they will be there, and we will still need to live with our lives.

Love is love

Personally I see love as universal. Irrespective of race, language, religion nor gender orientation. You just need to love a person, an animal enough to care for that being, and to a certain degree, die for that being. Love is always fair and we need to leave people alone to love themselves and the people the love.

My Thai Transvestites Customers

Thinking back sometimes, I wish I had the maturity to handle those Thai customers. I mean, they went the whole nine yards, and did the boob job and cut certain organs away to make themselves more womanly. Thailand are full of such people and they must have lived an amazing life.

Back then I was too young to make friends with them, learn from them and absorb their humanity. I’m sure just by being their friends and making them a little more accepted by me, will not turn me into a gay. Love is love, and it doesn’t turn men into gays, not women into lesbians.

I hope you boys can look at these LGBT issues with maturity and let them be in your lives, these are ordinary people living an extraordinary lives, who are always constantly under the threat of prosecution for being them. I’d let them live, just as much as they’d allowed me to be me.

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The Best Big Brother

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Ian and Wayne

Dear Wayne,

You have an awesome big brother. Really, no bragging.

He loves you unconditionally and in such a pure and naive manner, he can never hurt you on purpose. He has seen you grown in your mummy’s stomach and he was so ecstatic when you first came out.

Born to be your Big Brother.

Honestly, I don’t know how he does it, he took on the 大哥 role like fish to water. He knows when to protect you and look after you. We didn’t have to teach him much. He has always been there to look out for you.

Your Brother the Hustler

We will never forget back in 2009 when we went to the Central Fire Station for a kind of outing. There was a little girl coming over to your pram to check you out, your big brother wouldn’t let her touch you, and he puts himself between you and the little girl.

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Girl: cute baby!
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Ian: He’s my little brother!

Backing each other up

As the both of you grows up, there will be conflicting priorities and there will be conflicts, despite of our best efforts to make peace out of the both of you. You both need your space to grow and you will have your own priorities. Sometimes those priorities will clash, but whenever you can, please try to come to each other’s aid as much as possible.

Bath time

A couple of evenings back, you brother asked you to accompany him for his bath, well, he is kind of a scatty cat and he likes your companionship while be bath. You were on a game or something and refused to keep him company.

He came out and did a tit-for-tat when you ask him to help him with something.

I have to intervene to find out what was going on.

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Ian and Wayne 2011

The bottom line

You both are brothers, and as far as my memory serves me, your big brother has never asked of you to do unreasonable things. And he will always comes to your aid, without reservations. You have to do likewise for you.

Right now, you still have your dad and mum to come in and intervene in such instances of conflict, by the time we are dead, I don’t want the both of you to go at your throats, because of a tit-for-tat. Being brothers is more than quid pro quo, you must drop whatever you are doing and go to each other’s aid. Because like what I’ve said before, there is no one else out there, it’s just the both of you against the world.

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Never Bring Your Work Home

MjAxMy1mY2ZkZDg5ZWY4NDY4MDdkDear boys,

You will hear a lot of work-life advise in your life. Some say this and some will say that. It all depends on what works for you and what kind of a person you grow up to be.

You can either learn to take stress well, and be a tough guy, and be a Type A personality, that’s fine.

If you both gets married and have kids, you must make sure that you have a spouse you can talk to. Whether you choose to talk to your spouse or not, that is entirely a different matter.

Well, actually it is not that entirely different, becoming husband and wife and being in a marriage is building new habits, and the old ones evolve.

What I’m trying to say here is, at this stage of my marriage to your mum, I’ve learned to open up a lot more and tell her a lot of things. It didn’t used to be like that; in the past, I hate being on the phone, as part of my job requires me to be on the phone 6-8 hours a day. Enough of phone conversations!

These couple of years has evolved and I’ve taken to calling your mum ever-so-often, and you boys would have heard me calling home during lunch time and have a quick chat with your mum.

So what do we talk about?

Mostly work stuff, for me and also some work stuff for her and maybe somethings about you boys.

There will be people out there telling you not to bring work home, and when you leave the office, leave the work in the office. It means that you need to sort of compartmentalize some parts of your life and when you go home, you take off your ‘office manager’ hat and put on a ‘husband’ or ‘dad’ hat. Well I wish life is as simple as that!

Psychologically, it is quite impossible to draw a clear line as where your work ends and your family begins. sometimes, you get so heated up with a home argument, you are still carrying that anger into the office, and vice versa. And sometimes, our work and colleagues become our bona fide ‘relatives’, and we start to treat them as such.

What I’m saying is you need some skills to de-personalise your work and profession to be able to not bring work back.

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That’s not my practice. I have full transparency with your mum, and she does the same with me.  

It helps in our relationship as she knows what I am doing in my work. Its not so much about trust, but having someone to share your stories and also your woes. We are married and there are times where we have to fight the battles alone. For me, I sometimes fight those battles, with the full blessings from your mum.

Bringing work home also helps the “You don’t understand me!” department. While this will still sometimes occur, it is mitigated because there is a lot of banter. It’s not really a conversational technique, as it is something unique within a marriage and it differs from couple to couple. It is such casual banter that allows us to weave context into our relationships and when we misunderstood each other, we can pull out past banters ‘records’ and cross reference to help us work between the confusion and ambiguity.

That’s said, I don’t usually bring my family to work, despite of the fact that my wife and you boys are a very big part of my life. It is again a judgement call dependent on the kind of people I am working with. There are colleagues who are family oriented, because they are parents, husbands, wives who can relate to me. If such a connection can be explored, then I’ll sometimes share a bit more. But more often than not, I’d like to keep my personal, family life away from work. After all work is work, you can always find another work, but you cannot find another family.

I Do

I Do

Dear Boys,

This is not about a wedding vow.

It is about something just as important and just as life changing, perhaps even more.

It is about suicide.

Let me be honest here.

Your dad has thought about it.

And is sometimes thinking about it still.

What is suicide?

I’ll not be clinical here, as you boys can read about it in the many, many journals out there. I’m also not trained or studied (in a serious academic way) in psychology or psychiatry. I know suicide in my own personal, macabre, deep dark way.

It’s not a sad thing, nor happy thing.

It is mostly an existential thing. Like what is the purpose of struggle? The purpose of life? Those big profound ‘cheem, cheem’ (deep, deep) stuff. These thoughts keeps me up, and they still do.

Sometimes it can be very mundane things like annoying colleagues, the day to day struggles, and why we do it. It can be as easy as lazy to live. Yes, it can be a chore to get up, get dressed, get up the next day and groundhog day, over and over and over and over and over again, and again, and again…monotony kills.

Just writing about it puts me in that train of thought…

Anyway…

Why I hadn’t kill myself yet.

Contrary to many out there who thinks that suicide is a form of escaping reality, it is in fact a very courageous thing to do, under some circumstances of suicide. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and will power to set up a rope to hang yourself, or to cut yourself to bleed dry, or hurl yourself off a building. It is not an easy thing to do. In fact it is one of the hardest thoughts any living being can entertain.

It is a powerful thought to have in your mind about killing yourself, and it is not necessarily a good or bad thing. It is a thing.

So use that thing, that powerful thing purposefully. Of course if your purpose is kill yourself, then perhaps its your thing then.

What is more salient here is the powerful thing you have. I learned about this when I heard one Mediacorp Actress/Host, I think it was Irene Ang who said that you need a tremendous amount of will power to kill yourself ( I think she was speaking from experience) and why not use that willpower to kill yourself, to do good and live? And that made sense to me

The other reason why I hadn’t kill myself

Your mother, she will not let me die. If I’d kill myself, she’d revive me and kill me herself. Joking lah. On a serious note, she is the meaning of my life. Sorry boys, you both comes in second. Really, without her, I’d have no meaning.

But with suicide tendency, it is an ironic twist. It took me a while to look outside of my own selfishness to see her. In the past, I’d still think of killing myself, despite of what she has done for me, and after all the love and affection we have shown each other.

But as it grows, and me talking to her about my suicide tendencies, she somehow has opened a part of my feelings that allow me to depend on her, and see my importance to her. I wouldn’t want to leave her alone in this world and change her title from ‘wife’ to ‘widow’.

In short, I see her life and well being as more important to mine, in a very intimate, and interconnected way. Sometimes, you might think that killing yourself is a way of setting your loved ones free from the burden of being with you, the other side of the argument is just as true. When I die, the world will be robbed of an unique individual, well not that I am that great an individual, but the bigger truth is, I am robbing my wife, her companionship, her someone to hold her hands, and make meaning in her life.

We all contribute to the world in our own small way and killing ourselves rob the world of a life, no matter how small, or insignificant it can be. Think of it this way, Wayne, if you kill yourself, your friend, Angel (pun unintended) will never have a chance of bumping into you on the streets. Neither will you ever find out how stupid or smart you can be.

Death robs

I attended 2 funerals this year. Both my friends died of ailments and a genetic disease. Its not the death that matters, it is the fact that, when I walk the streets, I can never bump into Grace or Peter anymore, because they are dead. There will never be another Peter, someone who looks liker Peter, but not Peter.  While death robs, suicide is almost like grand theft arson of life. You deliberately choose to eject yourself of life, and robs  everyone around you a friend, brother, son, sister, mother, father, cousin, student, child, singer, driver, chef and so on.

I Do

Recently the lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester committed suicide. The band wrote a song One More Light for one their friend who died of cancer. Somehow, my association of the song was more related to Chester Bennington’s suicide than anything else. I think it is the context of the song that matters. Sometimes, we take signs of suicide too lightly and wrote them off as some wild thoughts, our loved ones shrugged our thoughts of self-death as non-sense, out of fear or the lacking in understanding and openness to talk about suicide.

Well, boys, I do. I do want to talk to you both if you wants someone to talk to about killing yourself. About suicide, about gays and lesbians. I’m your dad, and somehow have I am gifted this unique exposure towards suicide.

Getting over it

There is, unfortunately, no getting over it. It is part and parcel of life, and just like flu, you will ‘get it’ again and again. The thoughts of suicide continues to linger around me, and if I slipped into the darker character of Randy Lim, yes, death is always there. But unlike flu, there is no visible symptoms. Suicidal thoughts, depressions and other mental conditions cannot be seen outwardly. Which is why Chester’s death is so haunting for me. He was okay and laughing and having family time 36 hours before he killed himself. He was happy, or so it appears to be.

So it will come and it will go, and let it go (of course!) when it leaves and if it stays longer than you are comfortable, your mum and dad are here for you to talk to.

Telling it like it is.

There is no sugar coating, no code word or whatsoever. Boys, if you have a feeling of wanting to kill yourself, just come to us and say: ‘Mum/ Papa, I feel like killing myself.’ We will not judge you, nor will be shrug you off like it was nothing. If you have suicide thoughts, we are here, we will drop everything and talk. Thanks to your mum’s chat, he voice and presences grew larger than the suicidal thought and when I think about suicide, I think of her, and everything is okay.

Suicide is the ultimate leveler

Suicide, if properly done, leads to death. There is no turning back from death. No saves, no close call, nothing, once you’re dead, you stay dead. And death has no age limit, gender or political orientation, you kill yourself you die. Period. And you can die at any age, time and space.

I don’t care if you are nine, or ninety, if you want to kill yourself, you can talk to me, boys.

thoughts taken off an eight year old’s school journal