January, 2006

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An adventure ends, another begins

This is my last day in Perth, and I’ll be flying back to Singapore for good in a few hours’ time. It hasn’t been a long 3 years. In fact, the time I spent in Perth seemed to whiz past too quickly.

blog-adventure.jpgIf there’s any one remark that I get more often than others from my ex-Informatics students, it’s surprise that I am doing a Ph.D centred on computer games. The usual refrain is “Wow Mr. Foo – why computer games and not software engineering?!” There’s a reason why. During the just over 7 years I spent teaching in that institution, the subject I was most closely associated with was software engineering. This was not just for the students in my lecture groups, but including those outside it in other centres – the old SE203 web site was a regular resource for them – other unit controllers, and the external examiners from the University of Oxford Delegacy of Local Examinations.

There’s a note in the acknowledgements page of my doctoral thesis that remarks on how I left a comfortable position teaching software engineering to pursue a research area driven by keen interest as opposed to as a path of career advancement. Truth to tell, now that the thesis has been submitted for examination, the premise of my changing to teaching gaming, or Internet culture, is now a likely possibility – a fact that while I was cognizant of, never gave much thought to until this week. I wonder where I will teach. Certainly I’ll be looking at available teaching positions at the tertiary institutions in Singapore, but Singapore isn’t exactly known as a hub for computer gaming research (yet).

I remember the several resolutions I made in February 2003 just before leaving Singapore – that I’d learn to cook, finish my Ph.D, and find the special ’someone’. The report card looks good at this end with my meeting all four resolutions, and I thank God for having bless me throughout this time. Right after this, it’ll be the start of another great adventure – my wedding with Ling. It can’t be too hard – I’ve just finished a 103,000 word doctoral dissertation, so how tough can preparing for a wedding be compared to that.

Er… right…?!

I wish I could fly

blog-can-you-fly.jpgNo matter how many times I fly, I never feel comfortable onboard an airplane. When I’m flying, I experience the whole range of emotions that run from “a little terrified”, “terrified”, to “absolutely terrified”. Yeah, I know that flying is the safest mode of transportation known to man now, perhaps short of taking the escalator or lift, and I’m more likely to lose a limb while driving than on a plane. Still, those statistics of safe flying can seem pretty meaningless when you read of yet another airplane accident.

In order to circumvent those fears and stop it from turning into utter irrationality – e.g. I stop flying altogether – I picked up a book written for nervous flyers. There were many nuggets of wisdom in that tome, some of which I’ll share here.

I can smell gasoline! Is my plane burning up??

Fortunately, it’s not. The gasoline fumes one smells while the plane is taxi-ing on the runway comes typically from the rear exhaust of the plane that just took off ahead of the plane you’re on. Whew.

The overhead lights just flickered! Did the pilot recharge the plane batteries??

He did, but those lights flickered not because of failing power. It flickered while the plane was getting ready to take off because it switched from drawing power from the airport to its own electrical generators.

I just saw the left plane wing flex a little! Is the wing coming loose??

Those plane wings are intentionally designed to flex a little. It’s pretty much the same concept when you feel some slight swaying when you’re on the top most floor of a skyscraper on a windy day. If the wing was hard solid and couldn’t flex, it could probably crack from the force exerted by oncoming winds when flying at subsonic speeds.

Funnily, despite all these little pieces of information intended to reassure and comfort the nervous flyer, I still can’t wait to get my feet back on solid ground whenever I’m up in the air flying. I guess that makes me an extreme nutjob that no book or amount of flying will cure.

There’s a joke that I used to crack with my lecture groups while teaching in Informatics – that I’d always sooner rather take a train or a boat than take an airplane. Why? Because if the train fails I can walk. If the boat sinks, I can swim. But if the airplane fails, I sure can’t fly, can I?

Do the Likes Repel?

Call it the intricacies of life.

1 + 1 = 1. The bible defies math…or did it define math?

Life is not so simple.

The likes can attract. Yup, two introverted persons who have pessimistic tendencies can complement each other.

A dear friend of mine recently marvelled at how my boyfriend and I were able to get along well so far given that both of us are neither more sunny than the other. I pondered for a while and realised that both of us do get discouraged or upset at people and circumstances but the saving grace has been that we are triggered by quite different sources.

Take driving for example. While I’m perfectly fine with ungracious and uncouth drivers on the roads here, CY would get all worked up by the slightest sign of ‘dangerous’ driving. I’d normally just let him cool down or sometimes try to explain the mentality of certain drivers.

Or in the case where I met with a difficult person in the work place who really suffered me for a wrong which I was unaware of. CY offered such cheerful and funny perspective of the whole depressing saga that I was very much lifted up then. He could have jolly well joined me in feeling sorry and mournful but I wonder if I’d bounce back to normality sooner.

For the growing person in me, I take delight in discovering this little reality. Thanks, Doreen, for making that precious observation.