Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Splashes of colour

Had a good time with pastels and pencils this semester. All done on watercolour paper, in my usual method of printing the pictures first, then colouring them in.

Yen at Pangkor.

Roofs of Pudu.

The river at Selanjan Ensiap, Pantu.

Hyma and George. Pencil sketch.

Circus elephant.

This was done in watercolour over the Chinese New Year holidays. It is now in the collection of Pai Yun Jin, my classmate in the Fundamentals of Watercolour Painting course.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Out an Old Town Window

The wind is blowing, I see it in the leaves
That rustle silently against the sky;
Where is it going? I ask, and it heaves
A sigh, an abrupt goodbye.

If I could but keep one sense of five
I would still know the wind alive,
Whether by the salt it leaves on my skin
Or the silent stirring of the wind within
Where no eye can see, no ear can hear,
No hand flapping greet the breeze;
Where taste is disability
And smell a sense too queer
To land into the trappings we put on with ease,
Thinking we know where the wind will go.

A large shoe produces a large carbon footprint--
Off with the tall!
And in this way we tithe our dust and lint
(Our herb and mint)
As if the universe were so small.

* * *

Written by 6.50 p.m., staring out the window of the Old Town up Bukit Pantai.

Photo from the Pangkor trip, July 2009.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thoughts after service today

"How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God."

-- Psalm 84:1-2 (NIV)

Read this during quiet time this morning. And lo and behold, what song should we sing at church but Matt Redman's 'Better is One Day'.

There was much to think about today, reading the text from Acts 9:36-43.

Sivin said, "God is not interested in death, but resurrection, and that is the message of Acts."

In speaking of Peter living with Simon the tanner, and in so doing bridging Jewish prejudices, Peter was living the kind of life Jesus preached. The psalmist speaks of how lovely it is to dwell in the presence of God, and I can imagine that a misreading of this desire can lead us to isolate ourselves from the 'world' around us.

Surely the house of Simon the tanner must have seemed akin to the 'tents of the wicked' (Psalm 84:10), but Peter was beginning to understand what it meant to be like Jesus, to be, as Brian McLaren once put it, 'scandalously inclusive'.

And this must be what it means to be a 'resurrection church', as Sivin dubbed BLC. For that matter, it is what defines a 'resurrection Christian' also, i.e. one who embodies the resurrected Christ in his or her life.

Sivin also contrasted icons and idols, in which the latter is something that takes God's place, while the former is a window into the ministry of God.

As an painter and a photographer, I appreciate this, even as I appreciate the function of icons, and at times I cannot understand when Christians fail to distinguish the two. I do not think, for instance, that praying while looking at a photograph of my father is the same as praying to my father.

And the revelation of the day...

We need a Chinese word for 'deconstruct' (as opposed to 'destruct')!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

MAK 2010

The college awards cum 'prom' night, a.k.a. Malam Anugerah Kurshiah (MAK) is that time of the year when...

You flaunt your assets.

You get to dress up and pose like the mafia.

You let out the wild animal within.

You get to rub shoulders with the who's who of college.

It's also a time when...

Girls let their hair loose.

You see people you otherwise rarely see in college.

Kinda hard to believe it's been three years, what with our rare encounters in college itself.

You meet old friends.

Biggest surprise of the year: Daphne's now staying in 3rd!

You see the unspeakably gorgeous side of your otherwise 'normal' friends, like the absolutely stunning Elensha!

You reconnect with the past.

I can still remember bumping into Zul in the toilet on so many occasions; he and that famous yellow towel of his.

I also remember the day Aminas accosted me while I was on the way to the faculty, asking why I didn't want to take up the Pembantu Mahasiswa (orientation facilitator) offer.

Above all, it's a time when you remember the people who have helped you make it through the years...

Like the 'bananas'.

And the ecologists.

This year we have all but two (Thary and Hen) gathered under the roof of 3rd College.

* * *

Many thanks to those who helped take the pictures, especially people like Elen, Alan, Louise, Amos, Bei Shan, June and Andrew; it is rare that I appear in so many photographs on my camera.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How 2009 ended

Thary and I followed Dr Sasekumar to Sementa and Kuala Selangor on 28 November. He'd wanted to have a look at the aquaculture centres encroaching on the Kuala Selangor Nature Park, and I wanted to see if I could get my crabs.

Dr Sase photographing the aquaculture ponds.

The largest crab I've ever seen.

We rounded up the day with a stopover at the Kuala Selangor Nature Park, but we couldn't stay long because of the fish and crabs in the car.

The evening of 1 December was spent, first with Ruth at Subway Bangsar, and then with Ruth and her friends at Tea for Two off Jalan Bangkung.

* * *

Meet one of the latest additions to my arsenal. The 28mm f/2.8 AI lens, which was in production from 1974-1981. I bought this unit, scratched, battered and a little dented, second-hand from YL in Pudu, for some RM 300+.

Ken Rockwell is full of praise for this lens:

Like all Nikkor manual focus AI lenses, the Nikon 28mm f/2.8 AI is built to the highest mechanical standards of any lens ever made.

Want one of the sharpest 28mm lenses ever made for your film or FX camera? Want one of Nikon's least expensive lenses available used? Don't mid focusing by hand? Get one of these.

Read his full review here.

Although it's a strictly manual focus lens that won't autofocus and meter on a digital SLR, I decided to pop it onto the D50 for fun. After all, it's trivial to set the exposure and focus manually with a little trial-and-error on a digital camera.

Eric did mention how motion picture (movie) footage is still shot manually, with the required focus preset for each scene.

These are some of the results (note that 28mm effectively becomes 42mm on the D50):

Afternoon sun over KPS, University of Malaya, 11 December.

Tien Ern and Phoebe, husband and wife, walk down the aisle at PJEFC, 12 December.

Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, former Chairman of the National Service Training Council, now Chairman of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, at the officiation ceremony for a safety and health campaign, organised by the Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB) at KL Sentral, 14 December.

I remember first seeing him at my National Service camp in Pahang. Looking back through my diary entries, I found a paragraph describing a tall, bald man, clearly an official of some sort, who visited the camp. In retrospect, the description could not have matched any other person.

The Brickfields exit of KL Sentral.

Kishan, Timothy, Fitrah, Ruth and I went to see KLPac's performance of Handel's Messiah on 17 December.

It was one of the most authentic performances of the oratorio I have seen, from the scaled down Baroque orchestra, down to the stained glass gobos used. The only thing missing was a real harpsichord.

While Messiah is almost always performed to grand proportions, and understandably so, it was refreshing to see it as it might have been at its early performances back in the 1740s and 1750s.

The audience, per tradition, rose for the Hallelujah Chorus.

The five of us.

* * *

I've always wanted to take a picture of George running in a field.

That day will come.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


You've lost your mind to the sea, adrift
Amidst the weeds and barnacles, clinging
To what's left behind. Life's a gift,
If we heed the call to prayer, singing
Our songs of goodbye over the cliffs.

In vain you take up arms against the sea
Which will drown you with a topping of froth and foam.
(Which way is home?)

Best of luck; you're not aiming for the truck,
While west is east when, heading west one flies east.
Throw your garlands westward, over the rainbow
That they may follow whither I go.

Aloha Oe,
Farewell to thee;
Hands most human carry me
That I may yours be


Lay down your sweet and weary head
Night is falling
You have come to journey’s end

Sleep now, and dream of the ones who came before
They are calling, from across a distant shore

Why do you weep?
What are these tears upon your face?
Soon you will see
All of your fears will pass away
Safe in my arms, you’re only sleeping

What can you see on the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea, a pale moon rises
The ships have come to carry you home

And all will turn to silver glass
A light on the water
All souls pass

Hope fades into the world of night
Through shadows falling out of memory and time

Don’t say, we have come now to the end
White shores are calling
You and I will meet again
And you’ll be here in my arms, just sleeping

What can you see on the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea, a pale moon rises
The ships have come to carry you home

And all will turn to silver glass
A light on the water
Grey ships pass into the West.

* * *

'Into the West' by Fran Walsh, Howard Shore and Annie Lennox

Monday, April 19, 2010

Doctor Tim

Timothy turned 22 on 10 April 2010.

And what better way to celebrate than over a dim sum brunch in front of a 'shop' that spells out at least the next few years of his life.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Till everything

Though I grow closer to the image you intend for me
I won't be all I'm meant to be
Till face to face I see

Till everything I do, I do for you
Through every test of faith you take me through
Till every path I take is straight and true
Till everything I do, I do for you.

Petra, 'Till Everything I Do'

Junction in Amber

I had a date with destiny
Carved into its side,
Cemented in my mutiny
Against the roaring tide.

As one untimely born
In a wet birth on dry land,
I cried on the coast that greets the morn
And spilt my blood upon the sand.

Light pours through dusty windows
With fingerprints upon the glass;
I branch and shoot into the earth below,
My roots reach to the stars.

Coffee and dust, yesterday's grease
Prevents us from our hearts' desire
Which pines for swift release
From time's ravaging, consuming fire.

Hold out a candle in the dark
Over the ground stained pink
Where the fallen fruit has left its mark
Without a sound or missing link.

La Mar, the Lady of the Sea
Sends postcards of neologisms to me;
In her eyes I saw how I would die
But not how I should live.

(Written on the morning of 14 April.)

Thursday, April 08, 2010


When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide;
"Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's work or His own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."

-- John Milton, Sonnet 19 'When I Consider How My Light is Spent'

(Thanks, Alissa.)

* * *

What is three years worth?
A cycle to death from birth
The breath we borrow
Before tomorrow
We return to the earth.

And I heard 'em say, nothing's ever promised tomorrow today.

-- Kanye West, 'Heard 'Em Say'

* * *

I'm planning to sell a lens.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

He is Exalted

Christ has died;
Christ is risen;
Christ will come again.

The Jews, the Christians and the Muslims all believe in an empty cross.

The Jews believe it was not the Christ who was crucified; the Muslims believe the Christ was crucified, but that he did not die. Only the Christians believe the Christ died and rose from the dead.

Who wants a Messiah who can be killed? Who wants a Messiah who can die, who cannot be saved by God?

Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?

But indeed, who could imagine a Messiah who would travel to the depths of the darkest part of our existence, and emerge victorious? When we proclaim the death of Jesus Christ, we do not do it as a memorial in the same way we honour people like Tunku Abdul Rahman or Martin Luther King Jr. We are reminding ourselves that the Anointed One did not allow death to have the final word.

This morning at church, Sivin said, "Imagine if you saw all the tombs at a cemetery open; and this is not some Michael Jackson thriller thing."

As I thought about it, I realised that Jesus was the real thriller.

None of us alive today was there when the stone was rolled back amidst flashes of lightning and thunder and rumblings of the earth, but I would like to think the moment was something not even Michael Jackson's technicians could conjure.

Great song:

Christ has died;
Christ is risen;
Christ will come again.