Werein I Must Simply Say Something About My Shortcomings

A common question they ask at interviews is something like… “So, tell me about your strengths.”

It never fails to trips me up, that question. I am brought up a simple humble Chinese boy, and blowing my own horn is a very wrong thing to do by our customs. Yet, I hate to look like those idiots you sometimes see who mutter something about having no strengths (except maybe failing at interviews), so usually I sit there for about two seconds before answering, my pulse racing, my mouth half-ajar, my eyes bulging while my brain clicks and pops from the exertion of thinking up something to say that is at once witty, slightly self-deprecating, and yet somehow shows off my better side.

Yes, I’ve been to a few interviews – enough to know that the question almost always comes, but not enough to have a standard answer yet.

I’ll need one soon, of course.

And then there are those party games where you need to think of words to describe yourself? I am a Computational Science student whose speciality is complexity, random behaviour and statistical analysis. I read much philosophy and literature pertaining to the human state. I write long long blog entries that bore the hell out of my friends who keep reading them in the hopes that their names will appear on them.

I am not about to believe that any person can be described in a single word. Unless you use the word “forgotten”, in which case it can apply to any person you’ve never known. But if anyone else has known them then they can be described in relation to that person. Ergo, only non-existent person can be described as being “forgotten”. But once you think of a non-existent person, you immediately give him/her/it properties you would normally attribute to the people you have experienced, thus ruining his/her/it’s complete and total anonymity, giving it instead the trait of possibility.

What I’m trying to say is, it’s stupid to try to describe any person, living or otherwise, in a single word. Currents run deep. And even if they’re shallow, they can still carry shit and rubbish with them, so don’t judge a perosn by his/her/its cover.

Which means that in games where I do have to describe myself in a word I usually use something like “Allergic”, or “Anti-social”, or “Reluctant”, which doesn’t make me seem very fun or interesting – which I really am! I am! REALLY! (you have no right to judge – you’re reading this blog). So I need new words.

Of course, introspection probably won’t help much here – you are the worst judge of yourself, so they say (especially when it comes to body-odour). Seeking help, I turned to – Friendster.

Yes, Friendster, that monolithic website that my sister frequents daily, that I hardly ever visit these days, that I despise as consisting of inaccurate reflections of human personalities, that I consider to be a poor replacement for actual physical contact (I mean eye-to-eye, you dirty bastards!). Yes, I turned to Friendster. Specifically, I wanted to look at my Testimonials – perhaps therein lay some sort of defining personality trait that I could use to describe myself.

The testimonials, happily enough, seemed to have some common consensus among my friends. Past the good turns I’ve done for one or the other, prompting the “good friend”, “good listener” bullshit, it seems many people think I am:

  1. philosophical/boring/studious
  2. full of scientific bullshit
  3. humourous in a sarcastic/mean/weird way
  4. not quite in the same frequency as others

I am unsure if these are truly flatterring traits that I should put on my name tag or inform my potential employer about. I have the suspicion they’ll lose me a job more often than not.

And then there are the shortcomings, of course. I have noticed that most testimonials have little in the way of detriment, but mine seems to be littered with them. It’s as if my friends wrote them primarily to remind me what a shit I can be sometimes. I am, as one girl puts it, “a wonderful, kind hearted gent after wading through tons of shortcomings“. Awww. How sweet. I bet Jason from Friday the Thirteenth was a really nice guy deep down, too.

But I am a happy, optimistic person. These people must really love me to want me to improve like this, right? And to have the guts to criticize me so openly in public, it must be because they know me well enough to be comfortable in knowing they won’t offend me?

I am a realist. I know. I’m just getting my own back.

From now on I am Antiseptic Alex.

Wherein I am a Narcissist

I went to the IT Fair on Sunday with Gary and Nathan. Being in a financial crisis at the moment, I wasn’t expecting to buy anything, but the for company’s sake I went anyway. Gary wanted to look at Creative stuff, and Nathan was checking out LCD monitor prices. I regretted the decision as soon as I got off the bus to Suntec. The place was crawling with people. Singaporeans crave free entertainment (as you can tell by the number of people who will throng the streets to ogle at an accident but no one is willing to fork out ten bucks to watch a play) and an IT fair was as good as free entertainment got.

Babies, children barely old enough to walk, pregnant mothers, elderly people, aunties with seven children – all were present at the fair, regardless of the fact that none of them knew what half the items at the fair were for. I personally despise having to have things explained to me by a salesperson(I find it demeaning that a salesperson might know more than me) and I hate seeing it happen to others as well(projection of expectations). So you can imagine my ire at the fair where dozens of computer-illiteraterati stopped to have the concept of megapixel explained to them whilst blocking the way of the hapless idiots like me who had wandered in a moment of folly and were just trying desperately to find a way out. And the children, oh the children! Gary complained that there was NO REASON AT ALL, not a single iota of a reason why you should bring a one, two, or even eight year old to the fair. They don’t understand a thing! Little kids should be at home playing with Nintendo or doing programming, not let loose into streets with real live people! The stroller-bounds ones are the worst, taking up enough space for three people to stand in but housing an inhabitant to whom the fair means nothing but a reason to cry.

I became one of those awful people who step on others’ feet on purpose and say sarcastically “I’m soooo sorry.” in that tone of voice which informs you that remorse is the last thing on their minds. Yes, it came down to that.

On the bright side, I think it would have taken Buddha to remain calm in that situation. But he would have gotten kicked a lot, sitting on the floor to meditate. I would have kicked him several times.

We saw a creative deal for a webcam going for something like 80 bucks for a double set, so me and Gary thought we’d get one. The queue for Creative told us otherwise. So we trudged on along the line of tiny stalls looking for other webcam deals, when we saw this Logitech one going for something like 50 apiece. When I make a decision to spend money I hate to recant, so I just decided to go for it together with Gary. We ended up getting charged only for one at the cashier, though, so it turned out to be only half the price – 29 dollars for a Logitech webcam.

And that is the story of how I got a webcam. And I’m not ashamed to say I’ve been using it! The drivers work just dandy, but the included software has to be one of the worst I’ve encountered. Because I have support for East-Asian languages installed or some unicode thing, it installed in Chinese – old fan2 ti3 Chinese – which was impossible to read. In some cases I could make the sounds of the words, but they didn’t make any sense to me. For now I’ll have to stick with Window’s built-in webcam functions.

Taking pictures of yourself is fun.

Next time I go for a high-end Creative. Won’t be long till I have purchasing power!

Wherein I Finally Solve the Stupid Petal Game

Because of my social circle, I am usually notified of:

  1. nice new porn stars with big jugs
  2. viral adverts
  3. intellectual games

And of course I’ve known about Petals Around the Rose for a long time. I usually give it a few minutes, realize I’m backlogged on tutorials, and give up.

Tonight, though, I finally solved it! Evidently, Bill Gates took an hour and a half to solve this. I’m not really sure if he got the long or short answer. Yes, it is possible, after thinking for hours, to get a very very long and convoluted answer that has nothing at all to do with the short one. It has to do with moduli. I’m not sure which I would have been more proud of getting. One is technically accomplished, the other clever. Both are trivial(in a mathematical sense).

Well, try it. If you need help, though, I can only say:

  1. The name of the game is “Petals Around the Rose”
  2. The answer is always even
  3. And if you show me a roll I can give you an answer

Now I need a new toy.

Wherein I am Good at English

English Genius

You scored 93% Beginner, 93% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 88% Expert!

You did so extremely well, even I can’t find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don’t. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you’re not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

Thank you so much for taking my test. I hope you enjoyed it!

For the complete Answer Key, visit my blog: http://shortredhead78.blogspot.com/.

Wherein I Am Granted Rewards

Oh my. I looked at my CCA records today and discovered I had well over 50 Residential Hall Admission Points. How much is that? Well, last year, when I was the chairperson of Science CBLC, which was my only extra-curricular activity, I only got about 20 odd points.

And this year I even have points from more than the one category of clubs and societies . I even have points from NUSSU and sports(being the fencing club webmaster).

Wow. I could have the choice of hall I want with these points. Too bad I’m not getting to stay in University.

Missing a Kiss

I just watched The Hours. Beuatiful movie with a wonderful soundtrack, which I enjoyed immensely. The back cover on the VCD packaging quotes Eric Houston of the Houston Chronicle as saying that it is “A compelling, moving film that respects its audience and its source material.” With a label like that you don’t expect it to be an easy movie to watch or make sense of, I suppose.

And it doesn’t. I do agree it’s a really good movie.

What gets me is the censorship of lesbian loving. The scenes in which the women kiss each other were cut out. It was done very well, of course, such that you wouldn’t have known it unless you were looking out for it – and I was, at the second viewing. For you see, the first viewing made little sense to me when they characters’ faces drew closely to each other, there was a sigh and then a breaking away, with the slight impression that a kiss had figured on the horizon but had never made it to centre stage. This would inevitably cause the characters(well, some of them) incredible pain and anguish. Which makes no sense. Only after reading some reviews did I realize the lesbian scenes I had missed, and which were the real sources of the agony, not some phantom fantasy unacted out.

I’m no art critic, but I’m pretty sure that those kisses should have been in. The story just isn’t complete without them. Sigh. But, of course, I live in Singapore, and our conservatives will die before they allow a PG rating for a movie showing females kissing(each other). And R(A) just wouldn’t have earnt as much, I suppose. Although I’d have left the kisses in and given an R(A) anyways. Little kiddies should not see this show. I can’t imagine the damage it’ll do to poor little girls who jump off buildings or go to hotels to down sleeping pills.

But if it’ll give them some life, maybe that’s a good thing.