Digital Gems

I don’t usually put up links to other people but these are a few that deserve some kudos for making their readers laugh out loud, tears and all.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the webcomic! *big dramatic music*

Randall Munroe’s xkcd
“Fiction Rule of Thumb”

And then yet another…

Jorge Cham’s Piled Higher and Deeper Comics – Life (or the lack thereof) in Academia
“Eating Alone”

Same old, same old.

So a colleague asked me to complete a profile questionnaire for the staff circulations. This was the unfortunate outcome of asking me to talk about myself. Here’s the ramble.

Position: Receptionist, Central Office
What are you doing in the photo?
It was taken at my choir’s rehearsal camp in April. We have a themed dinner on Saturday night of the camp and the theme was Africa…I’m supposed to be a lion.

How long have you been with the department? Since 19 July 2010.

What division do you work in and what kind of work do you do?
I am the afternoon receptionist, as part of the Corporate and Business Support division at central office. I spend most of the time managing the telephone system, randomly sending callers to random important people. We try to keep the randomness to a minimum. However, there was one week when the program went crazy and really did send calls to random people despite our best efforts. We keep the telephone directories up-to-date so that YOU don’t end up calling random people, sort out the incoming mail, couriers, deliveries, visitors etc … always nice to receive stuff. There’s a lot more we do so feel free to swing around and ask if you need anything, I just might be able to help; you know where to find me!

What inspired you to take up your kind of work?
I just graduated with a double degree in Psychology and Creative Arts in March and I figured, it’d be a good idea to start at the bottom, learn the ropes and then see where it takes me.

What has been the most rewarding thing about your career?
Well, that’s a little difficult to answer ‘cause mail doesn’t call back to say they got sent to the right place. And once I’ve transferred callers, not hearing back from them is a good sign that they got what they wanted. But I can say that there are a lot of great things about working here; best of all are the friendly faces that walk by and say hi or stop for chocolate (OH!…and the views out the window…omg! AWESOME!).

What is the best advice you’ve received during your time at the department?
Take it one step at a time. Sometimes things may be overwhelming, but take it one thing at a time and you’ll get it done.

Who do you barrack for in AFL Football?
I’m from Singapore and while I’ve been here for five years, I’ve failed to grasp the concept behind this sport; mostly because the uniforms tend to be rather distracting…who wears shorts that tight anymore? My boyfriend roots for the Knights, does that count?

What is your favourite food?
My top six, in no particular order, is: pasta, mangoes, macadamias, Gummi bears (or Snakes), M&Ms (peanut or crunchy) and Pop Tarts. Can you feel the sugar rush?

Do you have a pet and if so what is it?
I have a cat. She’s a smoochy ginger DSH and thinks she’s a dog. She’s incredibly talkative, can’t be left alone or she’ll whine herself hoarse and will lie on your feet until you pat her. I just need to teach her how to fetch.

What is your favourite movie of all time?
The Count of Monte Cristo – the newer one with Richard Harris in it. Such a well-plotted story.

If you won lotto tomorrow what would you do?
A quater to savings, 10 per cent to charities, the rest to buy my own house. If there is any leftover after that, shopping (Christmas will definitely be special for everyone).

What’s your favourite non-work activity?
Umm…I play board games (like DnD and such…not the casual stuff like Risk/Monopoly) and computer games (role-playing or real time strategy). Yes, I’m a gamer…*hides*.

List up to 10 things we don’t know about you:
1.       I am writing my first novel; it’s a fantasy story that I started writing a few years ago and I hope to get it published within the next six years;

2.       I went to film school before doing psychology and loved it, even got posted to a film documentary company in Los Angeles for two months as part of my school practical. That’s why I’m still writing;

3.       I don’t like capsicums at all,  but for some reason I don’t mind those roasted capsicum dips. Very odd, indeed;

4.       My heritage is very mixed. My father is British-Chinese while my mum is Indian. My sister and I look nothing alike and it’s always been entertaining trying to convince people that we are sisters. She looks like Mum while I look like Dad;

5.       I can barely swim and I’m very susceptible to motion sickness…which is funny considering I’m dating a guy in the Navy;

6.       Being a gamer, I’ve recently joined an online gaming clan (Australasian Expeditionary Forces or AEF for short);

7.       I have a really bad memory. I’m like Dory, honestly. Hmm, wait…what was I saying again?

8.       I really wish I could think of 10 things right now and am glad that the question actually says “up to 10”; and

9.       I’ve become a fan of Japanese anime in the last year or so. I’ve been able to pick up quite a bit of Japanese solely from watching them in Japanese. Exposure is key. Korekaramo ganbatte kudasai. Ja mata, ne! (Keep up the good work. I’ll see you around!).

A change of scenery

I go to work and these are the views that greet me along with all the people.

I’ve been here a while now and the pace is fitting me like a glove. The people are colourful enough to be entertaining but not so over-powering that it’s a chore to be around them 5 hours a day. The work is easy, straightforward and quick…if it’s not, I’m re-working it such that it will be.

Most of all, it’s just nice to be able to go to work, feel a sense of purpose and camaraderie…and not an ounce of stress. It’s quiet most days and it’s nice to be able to help people, even if all I can do for them is transfer them to the right people…at least it’s one step closer to finding what they need. 🙂

I found a Pony theme for the IE8 they recently installed on the work computers. Don’t get me wrong, I despise IE8 but this is a little something to brighten up my day just cause I put in the effort to work with the darn program.

It’s nice to be taking public transport again too. It’s oddly comforting when you don’t have to drive the same old roads to work and back again; that someone else will take you to where you need to be. There is wonder in the freedom you have to look around and appreciate things when you’re being driven around.

Nevermind the car. My house is located just under the middle of that rainbow. 🙂 Say it with me now, Awwwwww.

Rolling with the Pack

So two weeks ago on the 5th, I rocked up to the RSPCA for my first day of volunteering at the kennels. I wouldn’t say I’m not a dog person, but I am a little awkward about their 24/7 lingering expectation of affection which tends to be amplified by every sudden tilt of their head and every bewildered blink in their gawking eyes. Granted, my cousins, aunts and uncles had dogs by the dozens and I, too, did have a dog at some point in my life but it was before the age of 3 so I doubt it counts really. Dogs never really get tired of hanging around you.

That’s what I like about cats – they’ll come to check you out, get a little loving from you, purr like you’re the God of massage but eventually, they’ll up and announce they’re exit. They’ll thank you with a final sniff, throw a parting glance at you with their squinty Humphrey Bogart eyes as if to say, “Here’s looking at you, kid – keep ’em claws clean” before they saunter slowly into the sunset to lick their butt or something.

Anyway, I went for the RSPCA dog kennel volunteering course, watched every single episode of Dog Whisperer, read two books on dog behaviour, thinking maybe that’s more than enough for me to be able to teach these unruly canines some manners. You would think walking a dog and having a bit of playtime in the yard would be the simplest thing in the world. I mean, how hard could it be? I was sorely proven wrong. Literally. My hands were red from hanging on to that darn purple leash.

The day began, bright and early at 8:30am, with this boy.
He was the epitome of an eager beaver.

Meet Wombat. So named, for his resemblance to his namesake. He had no tail; not even a little stump…nothing…just butt. If I hadn’t read his background, I would’ve sworn that he wagged his own tail off. He was such a happy dog. He made a point to sniff everything in sight. He even found the ziplock bag of cheese I had in my jacket pocket. He was VERY friendly after that.

Next up was Tassie. I met her during my volunteering training and she was the one dog I was most looking forward to seeing again. She was an absolute doll. Has an issue with jumping while you’re in the kennel with her but as soon as you get her out the door, she’s an image of perfection. Doesn’t pull on the lead, walks calmly beside your knees, lies on the floor and rolls over for a tummy rub when you sit on the bench. *swoon*

I know the picture looks exactly like Wombat but she’s a totally different dog. She’s the kind that would wait patiently on the other side of your front door until you come home. He would be the dog that chewed off the door frame just to get to you when he heard your car in the drive way. Very loving, but just not the same. Besides, she has a tail.

I figured by this point that it was almost time for lunch but I could do another dog…I thought, hey, that little guy next to Tassie would probably be a piece of cake. Enter Aiden. He was slightly older than the 2 collie mixes that I’d walked earlier so I assumed it’d be a more relaxed walked and I wouldn’t have to run a bit to tire him out. But that’s the thing with Jack Russell Terriers…

Turns out you can’t judge a dog by it’s size or age. He was feisty as ever. Fortunately, he had far more manners than the 2 before him. He’d take it slow on the walks but when you sat down with him, he’d go beserk – he’d jump onto the chair, snuggle under your arm for a cuddle, and then in a schizo-alert frenzy, he’d jump off to have a stare down with a nearby crow before jumping back onto your lap for more cuddles.

So then, after 3 nearly hyperactive dogs and 4 hours of walking/playing in the yard, it was my turn to go back to my kennel for some food and water.

I was going to eat in the volunteers room but it was too close to the kennels and you could still hear the dogs barking for their lives. I proceeded to the car park, opened my boot and sat inside it; looking over the open field used for public dog training. *aaahh* The peace and quiet. 🙂

I felt so reenergized from the quiet boot-picnic, that I got a bit gutsy and went straight for Jerry-lee. He was a massive German Shepard (when he was standing on all fours, his shoulders came up to my waist…o.m.g. huge). On the chart outside his kennel, they wrote that he was apprehensive about the collar and pulled on the leash. They didn’t quite express the severity of it all.

Took me a good 10 mintues to get him to let me put the collar on and while I did the Caesar Milan thing – to wait until he settled a bit before going out – he was quite the handful to put it nicely. He dragged me out to the walking trail and I could feel the blood being squeezed out of my hand by the leash. I promptly wrapped the leash around one arm, round my back and over my other shoulder (very Rambo like…I was just missing the bullets) just to  stop him from dragging me. He may have outweighed me but by the power of physics, I wasn’t going to be a pushover. Obviously, I was very preoccupied with hanging on to the leash so I couldn’t take any photos of Jerry.

Utterly exhausted from a half hour walk with that bull of a dog, I thought, let’s go with a puppy next. Something not so determined to dislodge all my bones. Enter Bullet. The happiest bull mastiff puppy ever. He was so calm and sweet in the kennel; I figured again, how hard could it be? Famous last words indeed. He was a bundle of nerves on the walk; jumped at every bird, freaked at every crack of branch under my feet, but he had boundless energy. I took him for a bit of a run, hoping that he’d tire out a bit. But after Jerry-lee, I didn’t have enough energy to outrun Bullet.

We sat down in the yard and I put the long lead on him and let him run-freely. He sniffed everything with fervour and after a few failed attempts at playing fetch with him, he finally settled down next to me; his chin on my lap and his body weight leaning against the giant exercise ball I was sitting on. It seemed like he really liked the timeout from being in the kennel. I let him enjoy the quiet for another half hour as he sat lazily next to me watching the other dog walkers and their dogs. At one point, he’d even managed to catch a short nap in our sunny spot in the yard. Definitely a keeper if I was interested in a dog…but he’d grow into a slobbering beast of a dog though…

I decided I wasn’t going to pick and choose a dog anymore because it’s failed all day long. So in the kennel next to Bullet was Zeke, a young male Border Collie/Jack Russell Terrier Mix. He had a similar aura as Bullet; a buzzing furball of energy and pure happiness. I couldn’t get him to sit still for anything (especially since I’d run out of cheese treats) but he loved playing in the yard and I had finally found a dog that knew how to fetch. We played with that tennis ball till he punctured it out of excitement in an epic jump and flip and he caught it in mid-air.

Here was a perfect example of the excellent pedigree that you can find in any shelter. He was so attentive to what we needed to do rather than sniffing the entire world as fast a possible. He was more interested in where we were going on the walk than all the birds that walked by us. He looked up at me to check my response whenever another dog nearby started barking. All he wanted to do was sit in my lap like a little puppy. So he continued with jumping all over me, in every attempt to lie down and fit both his butt and front legs on my lap. Good try buddy; yes you may not be much bigger than a Jack Russell but you’re still a little bit too big. Just as cute as a puppy though.

It’s refreshing to be with animals because all they really care about is you. Not your work, not your status, not your money and certainly not your flaws. All they really care for is some food, a pat and to be near you. If only we could be so nice to the people around us, the world would be such a loving place.

I am not your dog, but if every time you saw me, you gave me a backrub, I would run to greet you too.  ~Robert Brault

To love

Not a lot of people acknowledge that they are loved.  It is a universal truth as solid and grounding as gravity itself that everyone is loved; even if it’s only by their dogs or the landlord. Someone, somewhere, does wonder if you’re ok, if you’ll catch up with them soon, maybe if you still have that cute tartan bag they could borrow for a bit, or if you’ll ever update that blog of yours. And yet we carry on our days, blissfully caught in our own little bubbles, unintentionally ignorant of these people.

Some say we are islands. Lone individuals in a vast and interesting network of islands. That we should have the right to enjoy our freedom, our independence, our privacy and our solitude. That we should enjoy being able to do whatever we want, however we want in any space that we call our own. Chilled drinks on tables without coasters, picture frames asymmetrically hung, unsuppressed farts and burps, having the light switches facing a certain direction in the off position, having all the “me” time you could possible imagine…whatever tickles your fancy. That this autonomy is worth living for, is worth fighting for, is worth dying for.

Granted, it *is* as amazing and rejuvenating as people say it is…to a point. Then you realize, it doesn’t matter if you can put your drink on the table when your cup is the only one that’s ever there…it doesn’t matter that you can burp disgustingly if no one is there to be disgusted or commend you on the brilliance of your burping ability. We were born into families, whether we like them or not. We are pack animals by nature. We work in companies, we build trade alliances, we import and export to share profits and cultures. We need other people as much as you hate to admit it (just think how miserable you were when you were single for extended periods in your life). We are unique as compared to other people, we are independent of other people, we are distinguished from other people. So you see, it is only through these other people that we are indeed, special, individual and distinct.

My point is…love the people that love you. Even if they love you in the wrong way, whether they nag too much, or they’re too clingy/demanding, or they aren’t communicative enough…they’re still loving you the best way they can, in spite of everything you do to forget that fact. (Of course, if that is the case, you should talk to them and teach them how to love you.) But always remember, they are there for you in ways that you can’t imagine; someday their actions will catch your breathe and make you cry for joy, other days they will frustrate you to no end with all their wrong ways of loving.

It has been a pleasure to have loved, even if I’ve lost some of you along the way. To all those I’ve loved and, in return, have reciprocated the love in any way, shape and form, rest in the knowledge that you would be good, no matter what. Here’s to you and to many more years basking in your uniqueness.

That I would be good even if I did nothing,
That I would be good even if I got the thumbs down,
That I would be good if I got and stayed sick,
That I would be good even if I gained ten pounds,

That I would be fine even if I went bankrupt,
That I would be good if I lost my hair and my youth,
That I would be great if I was no longer queen,
That I would be grand if I was not all knowing,

That I would be loved even when I numb myself,
That I would be good even when I am overwhelmed,
That I would be loved even when I was fuming,
That I would be good even if I was clingy,

That I would be good even if I lost sanity,
That I would be good whether with or without you.

– Alanis Morrisette “That I would be good”

And in your gratitude, remember that you can’t force someone to love you. You can only be someone they can love; the rest is up to them.


There are days, for some of us even weeks, when we forget to breathe. I’m not talking about that shallow, subconscious thing you’re doing; I mean really breathing…smelling the roses, the coffee, the rain, the wondrous wind that whips around you unexpectedly. When you stop to consider your situation and colour seeps into your perspective of life, when you become truly grateful for the things you have (no matter how small, cheap or old), the people you know (also regardless of how small, cheap or old) and the places you been to get you to where you are.

Birthdays have a funny way of forcing you to stop and breathe. It’s interesting to notice the people who come out of the woodwork, the ones that were always there and the ones that weren’t quite but still were loving enough to keep one eye on you. It’s hard not to take stock of all the things you’ve done till now and to wonder a bit about the direction you’re heading in. Two years ago, I might’ve looked at all these things with such a harsh skeptical eye but today, I know I’m not the best on paper but I sure as hell did what I could to get here and I’ve got a lot of people who give a damn about me. For today, that’s all I need. *sigh of relief* 🙂


Yup. Just felt like saying impulsivity. An interesting concept, indeed.

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