Friday, December 30, 2005

birmingham 2 manchester united 2

Doing conscription liability in ________ is a nice thing. yesterday I got to watch 4 video tapes, all on the tsunami, which helped me to learn more about them, how they were formed, & y they hit where they did. Can take away 2 things: first, that reconstruction is not just about rebuilding houses, infrastructure, & amenities, but it can involve changing the entire physical & human landscape, eg in Thailand unrelated people who lose their spouses cohabit to support one another at the expense of village gossip, previously anonymous & homogenous fishing villages not only recover their fishing industry but with the help of international NGOs learn embroidery and become more heterogeneous & in contact w surrounding villages that serve as a market for their products, rebuilding houses is not a simplistic process but can involve complex legal and psychological implications etc. Second, that the reason why the tourists in Thailand did not expect the tsunami until it came was cos when the earthquake set off the tsunami, it set it off in a series of peaks & troughs. Thailand beach was a part which received the troughs first, and people there were mesmerised by the sudden uncanny low tide at the wrong timing. 1 hour later, the peak, about 108 miles away & travelling at about 100 mph, hit them with full force.

later yesterday we had Life activities - something that it meant to be every Thursday. we get to, during office hours, to exercise - we can swim, play badminton, use the gym, or just have a leisurely walk. And i went to use the gym. the weighing machine there wasn't very kind. But I value honesty.

then today to celebrate end of year we had a celebration in a function room in Alexandra. the branch heads sponsored pizza and other food & drinks, & we also had games like guessing the christmas carol ( a bit belated, but the strains of Rudolph & Silent Night were still nice, and also dance revolution - people are supposed to dance and when the music stops, form groups, and people without a group would be eliminated). i realise that it is difficult to have this kind of "icebreaker" among people conscious of various ages and ranks, are more used to seeing people as colleagues rather than friends, and where the wicked concept of the "other" has crept in to factionalise an idealistically integrated department. The icebreakers weren't very successful, as people didn't really want to guess the carols and the entire branch had to come up to sing the carols together even tho many of them didn't know, so it wasn't as much fun as a concerted exercise to promote cameraderie. but i really appreciate the cohesion committee who planned it, especially the two who worked overtime to produce the exquisite goodie bags. We also sang Auld Lang Syne at the end. I think it's an appropriate song. there's a lot there must be forgiven, & forgotten. One of them even gave me a New Year present - something I never expected! This is a strange kind of conscription liability - to be exposed to the beautiful function room with top-notch leisure facilities in the government office, to enjoy food and games, to not be asked to help when usually conscripts are given the work to do, and to be given goodie bags! Thank God for this so special, special conscription liability.

New staff officer has come in, she's also my age, which makes the 3 of us who are 23 yrs old, me and 2 other fresh graduates, 1 from NUS Psychology, & yes, the other is from NTU mass comm, had Ingrid as a classmate, saw Joanne Peh in a lecture theatre before, and is from SAJC making her from the same batch as Lin Junjie, Hong Junyang, Michelle Teo, Esther and Nat, etc etc. But she says she doesn't know you, Esther, Nat, Ingrid, if you do happen to read this, have u heard of Lee Ailing?. That makes it 2 vacancies for staff officer (Comm Studies/Political Science/Regional Studies), and 1 branch head. thank God that we can clique. Barely known her a week and she trusts me enuff to invite me for breakfast with her, tell me about her bf, and confide in me about how people in the office finds her and how she is doing. Thank God also lunch on Thursday, where my breakfast was 45 minutes and lunch was 1 hr 40 minutes, if u add in the videos, reading of the newspaper, and Life activities, actual time doing conscription liability (what people call washing the drain) was 0.

Lunch was spent with this great friend of mine - a humble idealist, and we talk about civil service, NS, idealism and realism, religion and agnosticism, policy and decision-making processes, career paths, technocracy & meritocracy, human resource selection, studying abroad, etc. He's a great listener. He's also idealistic enough to share about abstract stuff and wonder about people and things - somehow we can clique, even tho I dun think I am an idealist. He equates materialism with secularism - employing a strange dictation cos he claims to be agnostic, but he's open enuff to not reject when I tell him about Christianity. He can't really deny my argument that God's ways are higher than man's ways, because man is a self-contained entity which therefore has a limited scope of cognition, his inability to perceive at a dimension beyond him (ie divine) would parallel to an ant's inability to understand the way a man can think and act, and therefore he requires faith, a variant of reason that provides a direction towards an absolute, albeit subjective, to believe God is God. Problem is, this doesn't make him more receptive to the claim that the Christian God is supreme and that the Christian way is the Way. Well, hope to have more lunches with him. If you're wondering why this article seems so positive, it's cos a New Year's resolution, one that is heavily belated and repeated, is to be less pessimistic. It's difficult, cos I equate pessimism with realism. The solution is when you approach something pessimistic with a thankful attitude, it somehow becomes less bad than it first appeared to be.

The writer is doing conscription liability in ________. He contributed this article to the blog in his personal capacity.


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