Saturday, April 26, 2008

Another selah

Six papers down, two to go.

I have been offered a place in college for the coming year. Looks like God's work for me in college is not yet done!

Praise Him.

Early Thursday morning, I dreamt that Dad died suddenly. As I thought about it, I realised it was less about my biological father than my Father above.

How often I kill God in my life, denying Him by the way I live and the things I say.

* * * * *

On another note, I took this test, following the link on Kee Aun's blog.

You can also click:

David has always considered me an ISTP, but the test seems to suggest I'm an INFJ.

Let's evaluate this with a little help from Wikipedia.

Sensing and Intuition are the information-gathering (Perceiving) functions. They describe how new information is understood and interpreted.

Individuals who prefer Sensing are more likely to trust information that is in the present, tangible and concrete: that is, information that can be understood by the five senses. They tend to distrust hunches that seem to come out of nowhere. They prefer to look for detail and facts. For them, the meaning is in the data.

On the other hand, those who prefer Intuition tend to trust information that is more abstract or theoretical, that can be associated with other information (either remembered or discovered by seeking a wider context or pattern). They may be more interested in future possibilities. They tend to trust those flashes of insight that seem to bubble up from the unconscious mind. The meaning is in how the data relates to the pattern or theory.

Going by this, I think I can justifiably be considered an 'N' (iNtuition). I think it explains a lot of the conflicts that have happened over the year that was; how people keep telling me to keep my feet on the ground and all.

Thinking and Feeling are the decision-making (Judging) functions. The Thinking and Feeling functions are both used to make rational decisions, based on the data received from their information-gathering functions (Sensing or Intuition).

Those who prefer Feeling tend to come to decisions by associating or empathizing with the situation, looking at it 'from the inside' and weighing the situation to achieve, on balance, the greatest harmony, consensus and fit, considering the needs of the people involved.

Those who prefer Thinking tend to decide things from a more detached standpoint, measuring the decision by what seems reasonable, logical, causal, consistent and matching a given set of rules.

I think I am somewhere in between, so for this the test is not quite accurate. I am not an 'F' in the sense that I don't always care for the greatest harmony and balance; if I think there's a way to go, I can be quite insensitive to others' concerns in my pursuit of it.

Then again, neither am I a strict 'T' as I can be unreasonable at times and I dislike given sets of rules.

Perhaps I am a 'logical empathiser' or 'empathetic logician' or something.

Myers and Briggs taught that types with a preference for Judging show the world their preferred Judging function (Thinking or Feeling). So TJ types tend to appear to the world as logical, and FJ types as empathetic. According to Myers, Judging types prefer to "have matters settled." Those types ending in P show the world their preferred Perceiving function (Sensation or Intuition). So SP types tend to appear to the world as concrete and NP types as abstract. According to Myers, Perceiving types prefer to "keep decisions open."

This one, I'll leave to those who know me to decide. The explanation that followed on Wikipedia was rather complex and a little too analytical for me.

But David is probably right that I am indeed a 'P'. I've never thought of myself as a 'J' anyway.

So what am I at the end of the day? Most likely IN?P.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mid-exam selah

I'm now midway through the exam season that marks the end of my first year in university.

Information Technology Skills and Foundations of Entrepreneurship on Monday, TITAS on Tuesday, and Introduction to Science and Technology Policy and Management today.

Cell Biology tomorrow, Introduction to Environmental Philosophy on Friday, and Principles of Chemistry and Biology of Populations next Tuesday.

* * * * *

It was Earth Day yesterday.

Went with Kee Aun to Salvation, Evangel and Swensen's, SS2.

From Salvation, I picked up 4Him's Encore... For Future Generations at a super price of RM12.50 (down from RM13.90 with Kee Aun's card).

From Evangel, Kee Aun bought The Naked Truth (on male sexuality) and a 30-day devotional following the lectio divina model.

And at Swensen's we Earthquaked!

The flavours, as vaguely as I can recall (hence names may be incomplete or even slightly incorrect) were Banana, Butterscotch, Frosted Chocolate Malt, Macadamia Nut, Mocha Chocolate, Orange Sherbet, Pistachio Almond and Strawberry.

Edit 5:14 p.m., 26 April 2008:
We were served by an extremely helpful waitress called Vani.

Then we went to Rachael's house just before 10.00 p.m. and spent a good part of the night talking to her sister Christine about studying in UM. I managed to finish studying for today's paper (including the Mahathir speech and the part on science and technology policy in the 9th Malaysia Plan), while Rachael squeezed in as much of her Pentaksiran as she could. I believe Kee Aun wasn't quite as successful. :-P

The night ended on a rather sour note, but then we patched things up.

* * * * *

It is World Book Day today.

This morning we were all at the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics to offer Christine support. Surprise of surprises, we bumped into Audrey (Leong, former VI Choir Conductor) who was also there for the interview.

Spoke to some of the candidates including Rachael's churchmate Annabelle who spent her secondary years at BBSP (Li-Shia's school), a Sarawakian from Sibu called Kevin Tan who was rather shy and reminds me very much of myself a few years ago, and an environmental nut of a girl called Thanusha.

It was a really, really memorable morning. I will not undertake to recollect all the details. Whatever is important I believe we will always treasure in our hearts; whatever our hearts cannot contain, I believe God will remember and bring to our recollection when He reveals His purposes.

Christine was originally fourth-in-line, but due to some mix-ups/rearrangements, she ended up going in second-last. Rachael and I had to make our exeunt before 11.30 a.m. (Rachael went first before Kee Aun made a round back to send me to DTC before going off himself) so we didn't get to see Christine enter on her turn.

Was really pleased when Dr Thiru (my S&T Policy lecturer) commended my term paper. He, Ramin and I were walking back together (he to the Science Faculty, Ramin and I to the Library) when he said, and I quote loosely:

Dr Thiru: I really liked your essay, Benjamin. You should win the University Writing Award.
Ben: Is there such a thing?
Dr Thiru: No. (Laughs.) I should get it photocopied and put up for people to read.

Met E-Von who was waiting for her sister at the bus stop, William Ung (formerly of 3rd) beneath the tree, Ann Jie and Rachel as they were passing (wondering why I was wearing a blazer), and finally Grace and Rachael (who wondered the same).

Went to Mid Valley with Rachael where we spent lots of time in MPH and had lunch/tea at the Food Junction. She had sizzling yee mee while I had a teppanyaki set. Long conversation.

Saw this book in MPH featuring pictures of Walden Pond accompanied by Henry David Thoreau's writings. On a signboard at Walden are inscribed these words:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life. And see if I couldn't learn what it had to teach and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

--Henry David Thoreau

Got back in time for dinner with Beverly and Wani at Sahur. Well, they had dinner and Wani packed food for Chian Ming. I had ais kacang.

Another great conversation, from which came this quote (in the context of talking about us being in UM and choosing to stay on in college):

"The grass is greener on the other side, but there is grass here!"

(Edit 10.25 p.m.: Incidentally Rachael claims she also said these words at the Food Junction. I can't remember; sorry Rachael!)

Kee Aun and I don't believe in those mass-produced lecture notes.

* * * * *

Edit 5:12 p.m., 26 April 2008:

Here's what Google did on Earth Day...

And here's a screen shot from Yahoo!'s animation in which the red 'Yahoo!' transforms into green...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Resuscitated in the Hills

11-13 April 2008: a much needed CPR, in both senses of the word.

CPR in the medical sense to rejuvenate us after a strenuous semester, and CPR in the
Committee Planning Retreat sense to give us a sense of direction in the coming year.

This is the photoblog. For the deeper reflection, see my post on Akouo here.

* * * * *

I wasn't allowed to take photos during the planning sessions, so what follows is a glimpse of what we did during 'recess' and 'after hours'. Enjoy!

We had a good balance of noise and silence; of jam sessions and quiet time. We also discovered that Ai Wei can play drums and Rachael can play the guitar; along with Adelene the pianist and Zach the guitarist/drummer, we have the PKV Exco Band!

The first joke at CPR was that we thought we had to survive on the few packets of biscuits Zach brought up (top left).

Armed with supplies bought by Kim Cheng and Jia Hui, and supplemented by the herb garden next to the kitchen, we cooked up quite a storm, including Maggi Goreng PKV by the girls (top right) and CPR Special by the guys (bottom right).

Once the planning part of CPR ended, we had more normal food: KFC for Sunday's lunch (which Joshua brought up) and dinner at Rumahku, Jalan Universiti which included, among other things, Ginger Soup (bottom left)!

Diving was fun! The pool was some eight feet deep on the diving end, and the platform was just the right height. Here Rachel and Ai Wei show how it's done. ;-)

Not the first time a Joshua crosses a river, only this time the wilderness is a tropical rainforest and not a Middle Eastern desert.

The waterfall wasn't bad at all, but our possible enjoyment of it was marred by the severe leech attacks suffered by some members of the party. Photography was also very tricky owing to the massive spray which incessantly clouded my lens.

On the third day, almost everyone who stayed behind in Bukit Tinggi jumped into the pool. Jia Hui and Divya went down with Kim Cheng after lunch; Rachael was recovering from the leech salvo; Adelene was our photographer; the question is... why didn't Ai Wei take the plunge with us?

We raced in floats and challenged each other's breath-holding ability, besides performing all sorts of zany jumps ('Z' jump, Ultraman jump etc.) from the three platforms.

One such jump was the 'PKVUM' jump. Here we are pictured in formation prior to the jump, which was done in two sets because the platform wasn't wide enough for the five of us.

P - Zach
K - Kee Aun
V - Ben
U - Ann Gie
M - Rachel

The closest we got to a group shot (besides one taken at Friday's dinner, but that doesn't quite make the cut as a photograph). I'd forgotten to take one before Kim Cheng, Jia Hui and Divya left.

It was a long journey downhill to the lodge on Day One, and perhaps a longer journey up to the main entrance on Day Three (being tired and all). But we had to walk as the cars were a little too low to make the journey safely with the extra load.

(p.s. Kim Cheng will say I'm just paranoid, but with all this talk about marriageability and Norbert e-mailing the RBC Ministries pamphlet on marriage to the Yahoogroups, traces of the Marriage Conspiracy are just a little too close for comfort.)

Entangled in Black-and-White

(Photograph by Ansel Adams, 1962. Sierra Nevada, Winter Evening.)

Black-and-white photography is still a viable art form today; some argue that black-and-white photography with large-format cameras is unparallelled. Ansel Adams would know, I suppose.

Its very nature suggests it is less about representation and documentation than selection and perception.

(Emmanuel at the Asia-Europe Institute, University of Malaya.)

Perhaps that is why I have been interpreting a good number of my pictures in black-and-white lately. After all, colours sometimes deceive, and in two ways at that: sometimes the colours of a scene carry it so powerfully that most, if not all, other elements pale in comparison; and sometimes colour photographs bring back to mind the scenes they represent with such familiarity that we enjoy the photographs purely on the strength of nostalgia.

But with black-and-white, an image loses a lot of what makes it present and immediate. What is left is the strength of the composition, the viscerality of the emotion(s) conveyed by the subject(s), and the texture of the scene. It is a residual art form not unlike the art of surveying the ruins of a lost civilisation: ruins which may at times have a deeper and greater story to tell than the glories of the original.

* * * * *

When the opportunity to take photos as part of a team (this is very important; if I were the only photographer, I would've probably shot in colour) for the PKV's Easter Celebration came about, I gave serious consideration to black-and-white. I knew Tim and Yen would be shooting in colour, so I decided to experiment with black-and-white using my Canon EOS300 film SLR.

Perhaps it was a subconscious thing. I'd done the poster in black-and-white (for that was how I saw the theme and overall mood of Entangled) and so it was almost natural to follow with cast and ensemble photos in the same kind of contrasty black-and-white; thus was the treatment given to the photos Tim shot for the programme book. (A side advantage of this was that printing cost less in the absence of colour, and an artistic experiment found expression.)

In addition to the interest in black-and-white, I'd been inspired by the stuff I was reading about in this book on stage documentation and representation by Matthew Reason. The book also gave me ideas in terms of framing and the overall philosophies undergirding stage photography.

(Photograph by Chris Van der Burght, 1999. From the production India Song.)

Take, for instance, what one of the book's featured photographers said:

"To make it possible for me to work as a theatre photographer, I chose to take the theatrical as reality, a reality without physical borders. This reality doesn't stop at the edge of that stage."

-- Chris Van der Burght, Flemish photographer

I would later tell Suit Lin that my photography was less an effort to document the musical than an artistic venture in which the musical was my subject; I realised after I had said those words that they were true [to borrow a Royal Tenenbaums phrase].

And so I armed myself with three rolls of film (for experimentation): Fujifilm Neopan 400 (which I bought at the KL Photography Fair at Berjaya Times Square last September), Ilford Delta 400 and Kodak CN 400 (both of which I bought from Keat Camera in Pudu for the event).

I knew I had to use the film sparingly and shoot with discretion, but on the big day I wished I had a fourth roll of film. In retrospect, three was ideal; if I had four, I would have wished for a fifth.

Besides, four would've blown the budget. ;-)

* * * * *

I am deeply indebted to the PKV for graciously sponsoring this experiment. I hope the pictures and the overall effort on the part of the photography team are worth it.

What follows is a selection of some of my best black-and-white shots of the night. My intention was to convey the spirit of the characters more than anything else; perhaps that is why I made a conscious effort to strip the scenes of the colour which would have immediately brought the viewer back to the night of 26 March 2008.

Once again, as with the poster, I am allowing light and shadow to tell the story and narrate the plight of the characters in the play.

When I say these are some of my best, I mean that they are some of my favourite; pictures which, to some extent, break new ground--in varying degrees--for me. I've always judged this aspect of a picture's quality by whether or not I'd enlarge, frame and hang it.

A word on the dimensions:

I have cropped each of the pictures in 'panorama'/widescreen (15x8) and square formats. (Most digital compact cameras use a 4x3 format, and 35mm film and digital SLR sensors are usually 3x2.)

The wide ones are because I wanted to convey the pictures with a touch of cinematic texture, and movies are almost always shot in the elongated format. Unfortunately these images suffer the most because of the screen orientation on this page; do click on the images to get a better view.

The square ones were cropped in an attempt to see what photography with medium-format cameras (for instance, Hasselblad and Mamiya) might be like.

Enjoy, and do give me feedback!

* * * * *

Edmond (Titus) at his desk, listening to a tape recording.

(It was in the photographing of this scene that members of the audience wondered if I were a part of the cast, a prop or something else; I stood centrestage and shot from there. The centre lights were dimmed, of course!)

A scene at the café. Jen Hann makes a surprise cameo as a waiter; he had come out to take Bernardo's stack of paper, but was unable to leave the scene before the lights came on.

In the background you can see one of the hot sisters (Jia Hui), serving Anita a bowl of ginger soup.

Cassandra (Ai Wei) accuses her siblings Anita (Siew Yong) and Bernardo (Denis) of not loving her.

Anita sings 'Can't You See' (to the tune of 'Entangled'). Probably the most harrowing scene of the First Act--perhaps even the whole musical.

Bernardo lifts his own ropes from his pocket as he sings the final lines of 'Silence' while the Narrator (Shoba, who also plays Desiree) looks on.

A metaphorical scene in which Edmond struggles with his entanglement. The ensemble, masked and dressed in black, tie him up and laugh mockingly at him.

Edmond (not physically present) narrates his letter as Bernardo and Anita read it; in it he proposes to kill Cassandra.

(In this picture I attempted to demonstrate Edmond's control of the events; how Cassandra is literally under his grasp.)

Cassandra sings the climax song, 'Entangled' as Edmond, having regretted his actions, tries to get to her but is tackled repeatedly by the ensemble. Crushed rose petals lie at her feet as memories of her dream for stardom fade away.

(The actual negative contains the entire word 'Dream'; the slight cropping is due to a flaw in the scanning. This picture came out better than I'd expected, with the lighting balance nearly flawless in spite of the relatively uneven stage lighting.)

In the tussle between Bernardo and Edmond, Cassandra is accidentally stabbed by her own brother.

Curtain call!

(The whole idea was to see the curtain call from Jon's point-of-view. The tall-ish backdrop just beyond the piano holds some painful memories for me; I fell from a chair while making my final exposure from over the backdrop.)

* * * * *

This entry took quite a long time (I started in the early afternoon of 16 April). More often than not, I'd run out of stamina; working through the photos was rather tough (as was writing the text) as I had to adjust the contrast to restore quality lost in the scanning of the negatives into digital format.

Some technical trivia: I had each roll of film pushed one stop, i.e. I shot the rated ISO400 at a functional ISO800. Aperture values used were between f/4 and f/5.6 (the widest settings on the 28-90mm lens), and shutter speeds were set manually using information from random digital assays made during the rehearsals.

I covet your comments!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Copycat across the Causeway

Kai Lee recently blogged on the new Singapore Flyer. You can read it here.

Typical kiasu-ism. :-P

We have Genting Highlands. They must build two casinos.

We have Istana Budaya and the Dewan Filharmonik PETRONAS. They come along with the Esplanade.

We have the Sepang International Circuit. They must turn their streets into a night-racing venue.

You may be able to beat us at these same old games, O Singapore, but where is your originality?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Sing... for Dr King

Martin Luther King Jr was shot in the afternoon of April 4, 1968.

John Legend covered U2's 'Pride (In the Name of Love)' for 'KING', a documentary which was aired on the History Channel in the US last Sunday evening.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Some Days are Crazier than Others

It began at 12.30 a.m. on Thursday morning. Yen and I had a really long conversation which only ended at about 4.00 a.m.

I barely slept and woke up at 8.30 a.m. with a semi-blocked right ear which, I discovered just now, was blocked for the most ridiculous reason.

The adventure only really ended at 6.40 p.m. on Friday when I accidentally fell asleep halfway through my tuition class, only to wake up at 3.00 a.m. on Saturday morning and realise what had happened.

What follows is a series of snapshots of some of the events that transpired between Thursday morning and Friday evening (record is of the time the photos were taken). The record is by no means complete, but it is a glimpse on which I will reflect at the end of this entry.

* * * * *

2.04 p.m. I joined the Wednesday Science Care Group (CG) at the Science Café. Adelene and Ai Wei were dressed nearly alike! Shannon later drove Victor, Jia Hui and me to DTC, where Pesta Ko-K (the Extra-Curricular Courses Festival) was held. Among other things, we looked at Adele's Chinese watercolour painting of dragonflies and photo montages by Victor and Melalyn, and tried our hand at Chinese brush painting.

5.40 p.m. Kee Aun and I paid a half-surprise visit to the Arts CG (half, because Hazel knew I was coming) after tea at the Arts Café. Hazel shared from Psalms 95 and 100, asked us to describe the semester in a word. She also brought up the matter of coming up with a name for the CG.

There's Enbina (Engineering & Alam Bina) and Econica (Econs, Business & Accountancy) but nothing for 'Arts, Linguistics and Pusat Kebudayaan' so far. I suggested 'Budaya LiAr'. I don't think they'll use my idea. :-P

7.24 p.m. Hazel dropped me at the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology (FSKTM or FCSIT) where I joined Jia Hua and Li Theen for CG just past 6.00 p.m. Jia Hua shared from Ephesians 3:16-21 and we talked about experiences working with different groups (Jia Hua's Project Management course and Li Theen's groups for various assignments) and sharing our faith with friends.

Both Jia Hua and Joy described the semester as 'crazy'.

I was then supposed to meet Rachael and probably Titus for follow-up with Titus's friend at Dataran Sastera. Rachael couldn't make it, but due to an SMS typo ("I prob can make it" instead of "I prob can't make it") I ended up waiting for her at Dataran.

My watch read 7.45 p.m. once I'd clarified with her. I could still pay a surprise visit to KLPac to meet Kee Aun, Suit Lin, Jon and Ai Wei. Perchance I might even be able to join them for Passion. Having called up KLPac and finding out that there were only 10 tickets left and they weren't entertaining last minute bookings, I decided I wouldn't regret the journey, even if all I could do was have dinner there.

Dinner with Rachael and then a slow, relaxed night... or a mad trip across town? I made my choice and hopped into this taxi driven by a (daytime) baker at La Bohème, Jusco Mid Valley called Salam. (The Chinese uncle in the first taxi didn't want to go to Sentul).

8.36 p.m. I arrived at KLPac at about 8.15 p.m. and met Jon and Kee Aun outside the Box Office. Suit Lin and Ai Wei were inside. Apparently they hadn't bought tickets earlier and couldn't get any now. It was a toss then, between going for a movie and watching Actorlympics at The Actors Studio, Bangsar.

With barely enough time to get to the Bangsar Shopping Centre, we chose to watch The Water Horse at Mid Valley. It was a horse-y night, what with transforming Kee Aun's car into a horse-drawn carriage and spotting the shop above on our way out of Sentul.

9.14 p.m. We swapped jackets while Suit Lin was in line. Kee Aun put on my brown Seed jacket, Jon wore Kee Aun's black Adidas, and I did what only the Ben would... squeeze into Ai Wei's purple jacket!

En route to Mid Valley, we dubbed Kee Aun the 'changing lanes' driver, and the night bore us out!

Met Adrian, Qiu Mei and Say Siong there. Adrian was there with Jee Haw, Jimmy and Wei Lun, while the other two were with Steven (if I'm not mistaken).

12.41 a.m. After the movie (which the others didn't find satisfactory, while I very much enjoyed the 'trip' to Scotland), we dropped Jon at KFC where his car was parked and proceeded inside to place our orders.

The book in Kee Aun's hand is James Joyce's Dubliners.

We talked about many, many things.

3.17 a.m. One thing about good models is that there is no end to the possibilities of new and inspiring photography. Behold Sister Kaun of the Candleflame.

3.24 a.m. We spotted this rat enjoying the scraps beneath the next table.

4.12 a.m. I don't quite know what to make of this shot. Ai Wei wanted a shot with the light behind her (like the one of Kee Aun above), but the resulting photo was a rather unusual (yet simple) juxtaposition which, I think, says quite a lot about the kind of person she is.

We proceeded to drop Suit Lin off at Millennium Court so that she could finish her assignment, before meeting up again for breakfast at McDonald's. The initial plan was to go straight to McDonald's after KFC, but homework is homework!

Meanwhile we made stops at 9th, 3rd and 12th for Kee Aun, me and Ai Wei to freshen up respectively, and then we headed to Dataran Sastera to make use of the wonderful wireless connection; Kee Aun is a genius and a human wireless antenna.

(Incidentally, Kee Aun's car windows fogged up at 9th and 3rd; in case you're wondering, there was NO hanky-panky of any sort!)

7.43 a.m. Breakfast at McD's! Somehow, McD's still has the best variety in its menu and despite being aware of its blatant commercialism, we are drawn to it. Like how d'NAers always end up in McD's at some point of virtually every reunion, despite trying to avoid it initially. (Spot the 2D lame fingers!)

7.47 a.m. Ronald's hair looks like a feather in Kee Aun's hair. (Spot the 3D lame fingers!)

At about 9.00 a.m. Kee Aun dropped Ai Wei and me off at the Taman Bahagia LRT station before heading back to UM; Suit Lin was already an hour late for her class. Ai Wei travelled to Pudu to get a set of black-and-whites printed for Suit Lin (more on the black-and-whites in a post to come).

On Ai Wei's request, we paid a visit to the VI while waiting for the photos. There we met Weng Kit, Miss Shanti and the drama boys, Pn Jayaselvi, Pn Sandra, Datin Maimun, Pn Ambigai, Mrs Lee (who commented on the 'new' VI), Mr Leong (who commented on how fast my first year has passed), Pn Kaladevi (who asked about UM), Mr Tham (to whom I waved through the glass panel of the rear staffroom door) and Pn Jaya K. Weng Kit, Shanti, Jayaselvi, Sandra and Jaya K. met Ai Wei.

Because the drama boys were preparing for the upcoming state prelims, Ai Wei was able to witness them in action and get a glimpse of the kind of environment in which I grew up.

1.02 p.m. On our way back we picked up a cup of champagne bubble tea each, but had to rush our drinks because they weren't allowed on the train.

It was a bad time to return to UM as public transport from Universiti station was at a standstill due to Friday prayers. So we walked back all the way to the Geology Department, and arrived at DKG just as Rachel was announcing next week's meeting (as I'd predicted). Thus Ai Wei was able to say a few things about the meeting in between gasps for breath. ;-)

I was too tired after the meeting to have lunch. So I just bought a 500ml bottle of mango juice from the convenience store near the Science Café. It was raining, and so it was a long journey back home via LRT, Komuter and taxi. (Many thanks to Tim for dropping me off at Universiti.)

* * * * *

Closing thoughts:

Some of you have been with me since those early days. Have my pictures changed in any way? Might these pictures have been taken in those days?

When I first looked at this sequence of photos, I realised they bore quite a lot of resemblance to those I took at our numerous d'NA reunions.

And I realise it's been a long time since I've written a post like this.

Dinner calls.

7 April, 11.27 a.m.
Expanded the paragraph on meeting teachers in the VI.

The Calling of Pantai Valley

This arrived in the mail over a week ago.

The UM Alumni Association (Persatuan Alumni UM - PAUM) published a coffee-table book on UM recently, entitled The University of Malaya: The Calling of Pantai Valley. It's quite a formidable, though not exhaustive, book detailing the journey of UM from its inception to the present day.

(Please note that I signed the picture above to state that I took it, and not that I designed the cover. If you want a picture of the cover for corporate or publishing purposes, please don't use this; it's not quite straight and there might be a little distortion because it wasn't a properly shot 'cover shot'.)

They organised a photography competition last year in an effort to increase their pool of photos of UM. I participated. However, there were apparently so few entries and many were so amateurish that they decided to scrap the competition.

I only found that out after seeing my pictures in the book and calling them to ask why I wasn't informed of the book's launch or that my photographs were included.

(Thanks Yong Hao for spotting my pictures and thus bringing to my attention the fact that the book was already published!)

Anyway, not only was I not informed, my photos weren't credited either. If you are reading this and you know someone in the Alumni Association, please draw this to their attention. They have sent me a copy of the book and will be compensating with a Canon printer, but that's not really the issue.

The issue is this: I don't want this sort of nonsense to happen in future competitions or calls-for-submission. There's this clause in every such competition that allows the organiser(s) to use the submissions for their purposes. That's fine. But with all due respect, I think organisers of such events, and especially publishers of books, should acknowledge the contributors and give credit where it is due.

If you happen to come across the book (there are many copies of it in Pekan Buku, UM, retailing for RM180), or if you own one, please note that the following pictures are mine:

Courtyard of the Lab Building, Institute of Biological Sciences.

My friends Xiao Lee, Amos, How (and Aqilah and Taufiq cropped off at the top) observing a lamprey (a type of jawless fish) during a Biology Practical session last year.

A scene of 3rd College where I live (centre), and last year's roti canai man at Sahur's Cafe, the well-known 3rd College mamak joint (bottom).

(UM debaters, see if you can spot Edith, Catherine and Raphael somewhere. Happy hunting!)

The heart of Rimba Ilmu, the UM Botanic Garden. Looks like the time Yean Khinn and I spent in Rimba Ilmu last year paid off!

It took nearly half an hour to nail this shot of the wetlands section, and by the time I reached this part of Rimba Ilmu, Yean Khinn had already left to meet his sister. It was raining and I was working solo with an umbrella over my head and tripod-mounted camera, mosquitoes all over my hands and my feet in the mud.

I experimented heavily with composition and orientation (horizontal vs vertical), and each exposure lasted about three or four seconds as the day was dark and I was shooting at ISO 200.

And I'm glad the result will forever be a part of UM's (recorded) history!