Sick of Being Sick

I had suffered a long and serious illness for the past month. It did not come as a surprise for I had been warned three months before that. During that period, I had sore throat before I slept but I always woke up feeling normal. It happened for quite a number of time and I guessed that I was saved by taking a tiny bit of manuka honey every night. However, there was also an obvious symptom – my scalp was growing acne and it was irritating.

My body had been “heaty” since young and thus I would fall sick often. I was no fan of food but I most preferred western food, fast food and just any fried food. I had been resisting them throughout my life because they made me fall sick very easily.

However, for this year, I was rather rebellious and did not practise self control. Other than taking fast food numerous times, there was a couple of times I took fried food like char kuey teow as my main course meal. My mum had also bought packet roti prata from the NTUC Fairprice for supper, which tasted quite good after frying them and she replenished it quite a few times. My mum’s porridge for lunch was rather healthy but not her dinner, which usually came with food like nuggets. I was very amazed with myself throughout the months before my body failed me.

As usual, it always started with sore throat, followed by cough and flu. I did not take my temperature but I knew I was having fever occasionally. Phlegm, blocked nose and ears were gifts from them and the worst thing was to bring down my energy. I was pretty slow in my work then.

The terrors did not leave me soon. They stayed faithfully with me for over a month. Doctor told me it was not that my body was weak, but I did not have enough rest. I had to agree.

I was badly disturbed almost every morning by my neighbour’s puppy who barked loudly for a few minutes. It was obvious that I did not sleep early and thus being woke up in the morning was a torture.

Resting during the afternoon was almost impossible with my sticky dog around. I had only two bedrooms and my mum barred Luckie from entering one and my sister-in-law did not like anyone to enter the other bedroom when she and my elder brother were not around. I could not leave Luckie alone in the living room because he would end up crying and barking so loudly that I would end up not able to sleep.

Since I was sharing bedroom with my mum and younger brother and both of them would “die” without switching the air-con on even when the weather was not very bad, I had to bear with it despite I was afraid of the low temperature. Flu was never tolerating.

While I was sick, I still had to continue with my daily administration work. It was not difficult at all but to do the same old time-consuming stuffs for the past few years was really sickening. Those boring work would not make me grow.

One of the most stressful things was to arrange for photoshoot. Things would be better if the parties I had to alias with did not give problems, and eventually, I had actually wasted my time and effort. I was all along very easygoing but some people might be fussier than me. Not everyone was very committed.

I had one of the most challenging tasks on hand, which was to update the website for my “xiao mei”. She had changed her webhost a year ago but did not migrate her files over. Somehow, she was lucky that her old files were still inside the old server and the host did not remove the files. I had to try log into both her new and old webhosts, and of course the latter did not work. In the end, I had to rip the source codes and other files from her own webhost and it included a flash file, which was calling other files. I spent a few days to fix everything for her. It was mind-blowing. In fact, she was not in a rush but I was just too determined and eager to solve her problems.

That week, I had promised to do an interior shoot for my cousin-in-law. During the first day, a Tuesday, he was astonished to see me turn up at the bar. I was wrecked by the full-equipment bags that I had carried all the way to the place when my body was so weak. He checked his phone and realised it was the correct date and time. The problem was that there were many staffs working there to setup the place as they were still in preparation for the opening the week after. Even one of the string of LED light was loosen and hanging around. We agreed to shoot during the next morning but he texted me a couple of hours before the shoot that the bar’s staffs would be there to work and thus we postponed to Friday. I had forced myself to wake up early over nothing. On Friday, I was smart enough to not bring my laptop along, in fact, there was no need to even bring my lighting along to the cramp place. The person holding to the key was not around and I had to wait outside the bar for around half an hour. Then, contractors continued to go in to fix things while the lady staff was cleaning things up. Many items such as fruits were laying around the bar counter and tables. The tables were not even in order. To conclude, it was a disaster for a photographer. I had to move things around by myself and even wiping the surfaces of the tables and it was impossible to even capture the widest shoot using my 24-70mm lens. I had to also wait for the staffs and contractors to move away before I could set the long exposure for my camera. It was one of the most horrible photoshoot I had ever done in my illness and I was not even satisfied with the angles and lighting.

The thing that had worsen my illness was the NUS TevaSUN beach volleyball competition on that Saturday. Each team consisted of five players, including one substitute. Tony, Gin, Bernard and his girlfriend signed up for it but Bernard had confinement at Palau Tekong and thus I was roped in. As the substitute who had to cover for Bernard, I had to be present so that our team would not be disqualified. I finished my TCM medicine (that was prescribed to me right before my illness turned for the worst) and I did not have time to get new medicine due to my interior shoot. Eventually, I took panadol and flu tablets to fight the virus. On the actual day of the competition, I was still very sick. Every time I tried to use my strength, I coughed badly. My head was heavy and I could not concentrate. I disgraced myself in front of all the girls. Right after showering, as I tried to blow to clear my nose, the mucus came out with blood. I knew it was not due to bruises inside my nose because I did not blow my nose hard. The situation was so bad that after I got home and tried to clear my nose again, the mucus dripped continuously for more than five seconds and it was bloody on my basin. I went to see the TCM doctor again and was lectured by her for not resting. For a week, the blood was a loyal companion. My illness took even longer to go away.

I was naive at times but at least I kept my words to everyone. I did my best but my best was far from even the level that I could accept for myself.

Year 2013 – Year of Stagnant & Frustration

My year 2013 was full of downs. It was a year when things were not moving fast enough.

Family

My elder brother finally got married. There was not much difference since his wife aka my sister-in-law had been staying with us for more than half of the weeks for many years. A joy for my mum was that she needed not be working super hard to find out if both my elder brother and his wife would be joining us for dinner everyday. There was less grumble about this and thus relieving some stress from me.

Luckie was one of my greatest problems apart from the joy and comfort he had given to me. As I was staying at home most of the time, he had been posing lots of troubles to me. I had to clear his pee and poo and he would pester me to bring him down for a walk every now and then. My elder brother would usually lock him out of the bedroom at night and I would still be the one clearing all the shit since my younger brother was not at home most of the time. Luckie was unofficially an abandoned dog since his daddy had been neglecting him as I could use my fingers to count the number of times my elder brother had brought him out of the house. There was a period of time when I felt so bad for Luckie that I tried to bring him down almost every weekday but I gave up, knowing my elder brother would continue to neglect him if he knew someone was taking good care of Luckie. Whenever I thought of the moment I told my elder brother that I would not be free to help to take care of a dog before we brought Luckie home, I felt stupid.

My younger brother moved over to his good friend Derrick’s place for some months as it was nearer to his school. That was a period of time when I became even more stress since he was the one who would settle everything in my house, including sorting out bills and my mum. I was also worried about his safety, especially his illness, when I could not get to see him during weekdays.

Money was the greatest evil in the universe. My family was plagued with issues with money as usual that often I wished I could just move out of the house to avoid torment of my ears. Basically, my mum continued to grumble at my elder brother frequently for she expected him to help out with the household expenditure, including grocery. My younger brother also joined in to nag over the wastage of electricity. Things got better eventually after some dramas. I felt our relationships had improved a lot and the bond was strong.

My mum gave me one of the greatest headaches as usual, behaving like a child most of the time. It would not going to be fun when you already had big problems with your work and someone kept asking you obvious or stupid questions, grumbling over small things or repeating stories over the phone near you. For example, she would watch her favourite Taiwanese drama and turned over to ask what was happening in the show when obviously I was busy with my stuff to even care about the noisy television.

Friends

As I was stuck with work and photography, and facing financial downtime, I did not get to go out with many friends. At times, I rejected gathering invitations in order to cut down on expenditure and it was difficult to make people believe how bad my situation was – besides, I was really busy, with many non-profitable stuffs though. The person I went out most with was Gilbert. Even for my volleyball gang, there was limited number of beach outing and there were groups within group. I did a few voluntary work with the voluntary gang and the experience with them was fulfilling. The few get-together sessions with my younger brother and our common friends were excellent. I got to meet up with old friends like Hoay Min, Guoxin, Xiuwen, Mike and Wanling etc. There was a rare occasion of meet-up with ex primary school friends and unfortunately I had not been keeping touch with them and could not remember the childhood encounters with most of them. I also attended quite a few wedding dinners and was a loner at a couple of the tables. I got to meet quite a number of new friends through photography but I was not able to keep in touch with most of them. Irwin returned to Singapore a few times but I only managed to meet up with him for once.

I learned to distinguish between net friends and real life friends, as well as true friends and fine weather friends. I was, however, still trying to learn to lower down my expectation for people in order not to torture myself. If you were to treat others very good, do not ever expect them to treat you even half as good. Sometimes, I just felt too guilty when friends like Gilbert treated me too well because there was nothing I could offer to him as a buddy.

Somehow, I felt very isolated sometimes despite I had quite a few groups of caring friends. There was no close friend who stayed near me and shared the same hobby – photography.

Health

Ah Pa introduced her friend, Dickson, to me and with his knowledge and experience in Chinese medication, my back problem improved a lot, even though it was still haunting me. I got sick less frequently than before ever since I started taking manuka honey, keeping the usual sore throat, cough and flu away from me most of the time. However, my right arm gave me pain for many months due to beach volleyball. At the last quarter of the year, I also sprained or slightly dislocated my fingers after holding onto the camera for too long hours without rest.

I rarely exercised. It was the thought that I could have spent the time to bring Luckie down for a stroll that placed me in a deep dilemma. He could not run for long.

Relationship

At the beginning of the year, I got close to a girl but she was too busy to keep in touch with me after a week. Then, I realised she was not the one for me. I was never close to any girl despite getting to know many nice girls, especially through photography; in fact, I was too engrossed in photography that most of my chats were just discussions about the shoots. At least I could stand tall to say that I did not use photography as an excuse to get closer to girls.

No girl was able to spend time with me and I would never want to go into a relationship that I could only get to see my girlfriend once every fortnight.

I was also never anxious about getting a girlfriend given my financial situation. Perhaps, I had become a boring person with the countless numbers of worries and problems in my mind. I agreed that nice girls would not mind about my current financial status but I would mind if I could not give my girl a comfortable life. I would rather let nature take its own course.

The route to starting a family was not within my line of sight. I was, perhaps, depressed over the price of HDB flats. The supposed-to-be public housing to make sure every Singaporean had a roof over his head was more like a money-generating tool to push GDP up, so that the rich could become richer. I was not confident, at the moment, that I could afford a house in future.

Finance

I could hardly sustain my life despite I had been ill-treating myself. Income was at all time low since my NS days while I had to continue to give “protection money” every month, which was much more than I would spend on myself. CPF’s medisave extortion and life insurance added on to my burden. Basically, I was draining my saving every month with my bank account getting lighter. I got some of the cheapest camera gears but they were enough to weigh me down further more – photography was an expensive hobby and trade.

Most people who knew me well would know about my thriftiness but many did not realise that I was actually not earning much income. Almost everyone did not know I was in fact making negative income due to various financial loads as mentioned above. It was a joke when there were people who still tried to borrow money from met. Obviously they knew I was a very soft guy, and thus they would rather approach me than other mutual friends who were doing very well. This had helped me to reflect a lot on myself.

Due to the income problem, I hesitated a lot over to upgrade my photography gears that would bring me to a higher level. It affected me tremendously mentally.

On a better note, I would never get starved because I was thrifty and there were many kind people surrounding me. Before my saving could exhaust, I would have done better.

Work

My tuition agency was in a bad state as a few of the more consistent coordinators had left or taking up fewer assignments, and SEO was not well. ET got into a Taiwanese singing competition, Super Idol 8, and he had less time to help out, which resulted in a great fall of revenue since he was a very good worker. Unfortunately, the business model was more about helping parents than making big bucks – I knew of more ways that was less manpower intensive. Since it was my only source of income, it explained how bad my financial state was at. On a brighter side, I was also able to spend more time on picking up photography. That was because I was too lazy and frustrated to work on more features on my website.

I had to spend hours on my work everyday, including weekends. The workload was never consistent but the administration work had to be done daily. The least I had to do was to go through every new and updated tutors’ profiles, and also their submitted documents. I had to do SEO at least once in a couple of days. I had to be consistent with these because I placed myself in the tutors’ shoes that I would be anxious about my account and documents statuses. As for SEO, it would fall badly and would take many months or even years to pick up. Nobody understood how much effort I had to put in daily in order for my tuition agency to be recognised.

The most frustrating thing was that most people would think that I was very free. My time was very flexible but I was never free. I did not like the feeling of being the default person to handle everything whenever shit happened. If things had to be done, they had to be done and I would suck my thumb to settle them but not if being forced to. In other words, I hated to be taken granted of. This was pushing me to give up and simply get a “8 to 5” job instead. A pity that I was a very determined person. I had to work smarter but it was never easy to learn.

Photography

I spent most of my time on photography. I went through countless number of Youtube videos and websites. I took lots of time to go through potential models’ photos, discuss with them, shoot and do the post-processing work, which included filtering the photos and photoshopping. Unfortunately, lots of time for pre-shooting was wasted because of “models” who were wasting my time. It was very frustrating when things were confirmed and the other parties called them off out of a sudden or simply went MIA (missing-in-action).

Through photography, I was able to talk to more people but at the same time, I was also distanced away from many people. In fact, I was too focused in photography that I hardly kept in touch with my models after the shoots. Nevertheless, some of them were in relationship and I had to maintain a safe distance with them. I was also able to find out who were my true friends eventually.

Portrait photoshoot was very tough on me since I was too soft when dealing with my models and the shoots usually did not turn up half as good as I had expected. I was never a commanding person – even when I was lecturing in ITE, I would never instruct any student to help me in anything simple. I did learn a lot but the progress was never fast enough as there were too many things to learn at the same time while my gears were limited. In fact, I had to learn how to use the gears, see lighting, get good composition, watch out for model’s appearance and makeup, and pose the model at the same time.

Tricia guided me a lot through her experience but her critics killed my confidence often. I had problems communicating with her at times because of her extremely serious typing errors in Facebook messenger. There were too much expectation on me, pouring pressure and stress over my helplessness. Sometimes I felt like I was trying to fly before I had learned how to even crawl. Throughout the entire year, I spent most of my days in depression because of the photos I owed people despite I had warned them of the long timeframe before the shoot. I was more anxious than the models to get the photos done so that I could move on to other shoots. Tricia was too busy to go through the photos with me but without her catching errors on the photos (mostly due to makeup and hair), the final photos would not turn out to be good.

I got to realise the limitation of my first DSLR camera – Sony NEX F3 mirrorless. The auto focus speed was simply too slow and I could not expect the models to pause their expression, especially during event shoot. It did not come with a hotshoe and I could not attach an external flash without buying an additional costly adapter. I bought my Canon 650D but things did not go smoothly. I realised the cropped factor of the body was 1.6x, which was lousier than Sony NEX F3’s 1.5x – 1x (full frame) was the best. Since Sony was using Carl Zeiss lens, the quality was much better as well. Canon’s 50mm F1.8 lens was far lousier than Sony’s. Therefore, it was actually a downgrade of image quality that I could never get used to and in fact, it was affecting me badly. Instead of working on my creativity during the shoots, I was badly distracted by the quality of images. I lost my confidence ever since the switch. I knew I needed a better camera.

AFter I got both my photography website and Facebook page up, there were more models approaching me for photoshoot. However, most of them were not serious. Unfortunately, I was someone who would be putting in my best effort every time. I was also disappointed by the results of my Facebook marketing, such that the number of fans for a start was far less than what I had expected.

Through photography, I had learned a lot, especially on human. Most people would not bother much if things were to come for free. I had tasted lots of fake enthusiasm. At least, I was comforted by the existence of great friends, especially Tricia.

Main reason why I rarely do public commenting

One of the main reasons I don’t like to do public commenting on friends’ social media profiles is due to uninvited interruption. Some bees out there are likely to interrupt given any chance if your friend is attractive.

One such example is my conversation with Shujuan in one of her latest Instagram photos. She was telling me that she was lazy to wear contact lens and I teased her that she was just trying to avoid getting more admirers. One of her existing admirers could not maintain. He tagged me in his reply and said he disagreed with my obvious-tease because Shujuan had already mentioned that she was plain lazy.

Stating the obvious won’t help you to impress others.

Anyone with a right mind should see that I was just kidding. Needless to say, her admirer was simply trying to grab attention.

I have too many experiences dealing with attention seekers in the past and I know well one has to be very patient and free in order to reply to such people. In fact, by replying, we are just falling into their, intentional or not, tricks.

Before I did anything, which I didn’t even intend to, the babe had already intercepted to stop us. I was a little irritated not because of the words but the way this guy interrupted.

If any guy wants to grab attention from any of his many dream girls, he better leaves me out of his drama. If he mistakes that I’m in the race with him to get her, I guess I will not be able to do anything because I’m not giving up any friendship for anyone, let alone a clown.

People always welcome more comments and replies on their social media profiles. For now, when I cannot even manage my own time, I will try to stay out of troubles although it will definitely distant me from many friends.

Year 2012 – The Stagnant, The Beginning

Volleyball
I started going back for volleyball with my buddies but things had changed tremendously. I found myself landing in a “foreign place”. My gang was sidelined somehow for we were playing too causally whereas all the competitive players took the main court. I supposed nobody was at fault since everyone had different goals in the sport. However, I was very upset over the distancing of some friends. I did not get to play very often since my team was busy and seldom could make it.

Health
My health was not in good shape. Apart from the long term back injury (frequent aches) from volleyball and feet aching suffered during national service, I had problems with my gums and complexion.

I might have accidentally hit my gum with toothbrush a few times when I was trying to brush my teeth fast. It ended up with a tiny hole where food always got struck inside. I did go to the polyclinic once but the unprofessional doctor turned a blind eye in order to knock off early from his work. Finally I went back and a better doctor assigned me to the National Dental Centre (NDC). I did a minor surgery to borrow some flesh from the upper gum to fill the “hole” before pulling the “skin” up to cover it. The pain lasted for more than a week and I could hardly eat since the donor’s wound was at the centre. Within a week, my weight went down from 54kg to slightly below 50kg. As expected, upon recovery, the gum could only cover the root level and tiny food would still get stuck inside. It was quite a costy surgery that I was not even use my Medisave to pay, which was ridiculous.

On the same consultation day with the better polyclinic doctor, he also assigned me to National Skin Centre (NSC). My main concern was a tiny lump right below my nose, which looked like an acne. I did try to pluck it out with my nails but the wound would stay bloody for some hours before it reinstated. I was told by a friend that it could be due to hardening of pimple that I did not take good care of. While keeping it under observation for months, I also had medication for my acne problems. In the end, I had it extracted, which was a fast surgery.

Financial
My only source of income from Smart Tuition was stagnant and decreased tremendously towards end of the year. With the increase in living expenses, life began to get tough and I started to feel the pinch on my pocket. I was poorest during polytechnic days but at least I did not have the pressure of supporting the family.

Friends
I continued to stray away from friends as everyone progressed with their own lives. Occasionally I went out for volleyball with my gang and other than that, there was very few meet-up with other friends. I did make new friends but none of them was free enough to spend more time with me.

Family
We had a big setback as my younger brother was diagnosed with mild stroke a few days right before Chinese New Year. He had numbness over half of his entire body from head to feet, even though it did not affect his strength. We were all surprised since he was a very disciplined and active guy with no bad habit. All along I thought he would be the most successful guy in my family who could help to take care of my mum if I were to vanish someday.

Photography
My photography journey started after I bought my first decent camera – Sony NEX F3 – a mirrorless camera. I started helping Eng Teck with phototaking of his performance during Sunsilk Academy Fantasia competition. After that, I tried portrait photoshoot and started to learn more. It was a very tough journey for me. I faced countless rejection and many models would “back out” halfway or a day before the shoot after wasting lots of my time. Apart from pre-shoot planning and the actual shooting, filtering and editing the photos robbed me of my time.

Relationship
I had another year of clean sheet with relationship. Other than being busy with my tuition agency work and photography, there was no drive for me to get a girlfriend. I did meet many nice girls but they were never free for me to begin as friends.

Do This or That?

I’m pretty stuck in deciding whether to do this or that first.

I have been busy since secondary school days but as I age, the amount of loads increase rapidly till I have to give up on some. Working on hobbies and jobs are different. It seems that given less time, I become less creative.

This is not life.

My Internet Connection is Up

My internet love-hate affairs with M1 has been temporary resolved by using my own router after more than a day.

What I am amazed about is that the technician has told me that their back-end would need three to five days to configure the setting in order for me to connect their modem to my own router or laptop directly. The duration is unacceptable.

This afternoon, I called them for the second time and finally raised my voice to highlight that I would need the internet access in order to work. It was just another five hours later, the lady called me back to tell me everything was resolved. I connected both my router and home phone line to their modem directly and they indeed worked. Now, I would just need to wait for the arrival of their new router.

The amazing thing is that the job that initially requires “three to five days” to be done can actually be shortened to five hours. The difference is simply the tone of my voice – I was very soft on the first day but harsh on the second day (today).

This is a very different approach I have taken as I have always believed to be courteous and nice to others. Sadly, it seems that our society no longer tolerates such virtue.

The Auntie, My Neighbour

My auntie-neighbour brought her young foreign relative over with a laptop and woke me up from my nap. She spoke to me in both Chinese mandarin and dialect. As the elderly was completely IT illiterate, I had problem understanding what they wanted.

After some time, I thought the little girl wanted me to change the setting for her in order to connect to the internet. So, I asked them in Chinese to confirm. The auntie, upon hearing the word “change”, kept telling me they didn’t want to change the hardware. Yet, she kept repeating “change” in dialect.

I explained to them that when I brought my laptop overseas, I needed not change the configuration, which I assumed laptops brought over from other countries, such as Indonesia, needed not any special configuration as well.

I asked the auntie if she had internet connection at home and she answered no. Alas, I guessed the little girl just wanted to tag onto my internet network. I explained to them that my wonderful M1 network was down and would be down for only-pig-knows-how-many-days and thus could not help the little girl.

The auntie simply replied “You don’t know then it’s okay” as usual.

In fact, when her relatives came over, my family was always more than happy to entertain them…

I wasn’t sure of her actual thought but it kind of sounded like I was either stupid or unfriendly.

I think if you don’t know what you really want or can’t explain the problem, you shouldn’t just blame or think lowly of the person who can’t understand what you want.

Birthday and Friends

Another year had passed and things had remained almost stagnant. There was neither surprise nor excitement. More friends had gone quieter or probably found their fun in other places.

This was the first time my mum was absent in Singapore on my birthday. There was nothing sad about it but merely a new experience to be noted.

The usual trend in this era when social media was dominating was to receive birthday greeting in Facebook. People did find comfort when they received overwhelming wishes from their contacts. As unpractical as it could be, I did not turn off comments by friends because there were reasons to continue receiving the well-wishes.

The greatest advantage of enabling comments from friends on birth date itself was to communicate. We made new friends over the years and strayed away from the old ones, including those we used to chat with daily. It was the best excuse to regain some momentum with friends when they started posting “happy birthday”.

Another reason to be vain was to be able to judge people. Sometimes we had acquaintances who added us into their friend list and we did the same to others whom we found interesting or pretty. Over time, we had too many strangers on the friend list. Besides, we were also uncertain over which old friends would bother about us. Receiving a short text could greatly assure that we did worth something in our friends’ hearts; at least they bothered to sacrifice a few seconds of their time and some energy to move their hands in order to make our days better.

This was the main reason why I had bothered to spend time sending greetings to my friends on their birthdays. It was one of the easiest ways to do my part as a friend to make their lives happier. I doubted everyone would appreciate but I knew I had done my best as a friend or net friend.

The biggest problem with social media network was that not everyone would log in daily even though most young people should have owned an account at least. With the emerging of more platforms such as Twitter, the concentration of users had been diverted or split. As life got more hectic, we began to find friends missing in action from social media.

Social media was kind of an imaginary third dimension. This was the reason why popular school debates had included whether social media was bringing people closer or distancing them away. There was no definite answer.

On my birthday, I had my elder brother and his girlfriend treating me to lunch while Gilbert and Titus showering me with food for dinner. It was far from what my greedy heart had expected. I had the same wishful thinking as most people on their birthdays but I was not lucky enough.

I do not need to own the whole world but just one… just be free for me.

Live Happily for Your Loved Ones

I almost missed the news that Huiting’s dad had passed away. It happened that I went out for photoshoot and did not scroll through my Facebook news feed. On the second day, Ahpa texted me and I felt very guilty for not been there to show prompt concern for the kindest girl I ever knew. Both of us went down but we did not get to talk to her much. After that, I showed Ahpa to the beautiful Henderson Waves. We planned to go over during the last night of the wake with Yonghao to do night photoshoot and then accompany Huiting throughout the night.

On the actual day, Jade went down early. I joined her straight from Tiong Bahru after meet-up with my gang. I had fun shooting Huiting’s cute niece and nephew with my camera. Huiting asked me to take photos of the entire event and I was totally lost as it was weird. Another relative of hers did the job. Ahpa changed her mind of staying overnight since she had to work on the next day but she still came down
at late hour with Yonghao as to wait for the lorry. We had the usual fun of crapping around and I enjoyed the companionship of the innocent people. Yonghao was the kind man who sent bimbo, Ahpa and I home.

Huiting was totally fine in her usual strong self. She did no self pity and faced life bravely.

What I have learnt during the few days are:

1. We should not trust social media to deliver all important news as not everyone log in daily. With the flooding of non-essential information, it is easy to miss out important news as well. If you need any help or listening ears urgently, call me directly.

2. If you want to do something good, just do it. Ever since Huiting’s dad was sick, I wanted to get her family and friends out for a small gathering, probably at Henderson Waves, and help them to take some family photos. It was a long dragged idea that did not surface out until the funeral, I confessed to Ahpa about my regret. Partly, it was due to my lack of photography skill that I had remained conserve about the idea.

3. I need to organise my time better. Before the first night that I went over, Ahpa had told me that Shengyang was not feeling well and had stayed awake the night before. I wanted to get some herbal tea for him but my timing was too packed since I had to meet my relatives for dinner. The idea was to treat Huiting’s boyfriend good so that he could take better care of her.

We should try to live our lives without regret…

Blogspot to WordPress

Many years ago when I knew nuts about the existence of PHP programming language, I had longed to move my blog from Blogspot to my own web server. My aim was to be able to manage my entire website better, which consisted of pages and blog entries. Pages, to me, were more like permanent pages where visitors should have straight access, while blog entries could be archived into the individual months’ links as new entries took over the home page.

Blogspot, at that point of time, did not have the “pages” feature. Even with the late implementation, it did not flatter me with the additional directory URL “/p” on the left of every page’s original URL. I could mask my domain name to Blogspot’s server but I did not want my pages to appear like “http://sillydumb.com/p/introduction”.

Basically, sillydumb.com and my blog had been running on two separated servers – my personal server and Blogger’s server. I had actually synchronized the two websites by using the same layout with some tweaks in JavaScript codes that allowed proper linking of all the pages.

However, I did not like the fact that some friends had linked to my blog directly instead of my main website. I also had problems of having duplicated work whenever I needed to make any changes to the layout.

After years of battling with time, I had finally decided to pamper myself a little by installing WordPress to my server to house all details. It was not an easy task at all and I took much longer than estimated time with unforeseen problems.

Basically, I was not very sure of how WordPress was coded. I took the easy way out by modifying the existing template to fit my design. I was not able to get the final design exactly the same since I wanted to speed up the process badly. In fact, I had spent quite an amount of time just to even make the basic arrangement.

The most challenging task was to import the old entries directly from Blogspot over to my server. There was a WordPress plugin to do that but somehow it did not work. Instead, I started importing the blog entries to my test account at WordPress.com, which was a free blog host like Blogspot with the basic and limited WordPress features installed. After importing my old blog entries over to WordPress.com, I exported the blog entries to my harddisk as XML file. Next, I imported the XML file into my trial WordPress installation in Smart Tuition‘s Singapore server and it worked. After some configuration, I exported the blog entries as a fresh new XML file.

I met one of the toughest challenges when I tried to import the new XML file into my Canada server, which was the home to my personal website. There was an error stating that file size of 2 mb was over and I could guess that the cheap shared server had restricted its users. My Singapore server’s team was much kinder because of the much higher cost and that was why I could import the XML file in without facing such problem.

After doing some researches, I managed to find a solution. I separated the 9 mb XML file into five files. It was not very straightforward since the top and bottom of each file should have the same coding which each blog entry started and ended with both <item> and </item> tags. I uploaded the files one by one and it was a pain in the ass since the server was really slow. Then, I figured out that I could not import my blog entries directly from Blogspot due to the restriction in file size while WordPress.com, running on its own server, was much kinder.

My final task was to import the setting of the blog from my trial blog. I had experiences of backing up the WordPress database and restoring them but I faced another big problem this time since the full URL of my trial server differed from the intended one – http://sillydumb.com. Therefore, I had to start searching through the database tables and made amendments manually before I imported the SQL file directly.

I made quite a number of mistakes throughout the process and had reinstalled numerous copies of WordPress.

Right now, I have to give up on some old features such as my Calendar. Some contents’ display depends on JavaScript with external files and I have to replace them with static texts instead.